Dear Heloise: During the pandemic, I’ve enjoyed watching cooking videos on many of the social media platforms, but it got me wondering: What cooking staples should I keep on hand? What do your readers always have in their pantries?

Lots of the chefs reach for olive oil, evaporated milk, breadcrumbs, different sauces and, of course spices, including garlic, time and time again. What are good shelf-stable items I should always keep on hand to prep these meals?

— Evey W. in Arizona

Evey, it’s always important to keep some basics on hand. I think you’ve got a good head start with the oils, breadcrumbs, canned milks and dried spices. Also consider rice, pasta, chicken broth, vinegar (many varieties), sugar and flour.        — Heloise

P.S. Some items, such as meats — including poultry — and fresh vegetables need to be bought weekly. It might be helpful to make a list.

Where to write: Got a hint you want to share? Send your tips and tricks to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000. Send a fax to 1-210-HELOISE, or email