I can't lie. This has been a difficult one for me. It's hard to come up with a pantry that will work for everyone. Personal taste and dietary restrictions certainly play into what goes into a pantry quite a bit, but this should be a pretty good multipurpose pantry, especially if you're stocking it for the first time. This pantry will include perishable items, but only those that should be in your fridge most, if not all, of the time.
Shelf-Stable General Pantry Items
Beans, dried and/or canned – I suggest kidney, pinto, chickpeas, split peas, and black beans
Oils – canola oil for frying, sautéing & baking, extra virgin olive oil for sautéing & salad dressing
Pasta – spaghetti, linguine, lasagna, macaroni
Tomatoes – fresh or canned (diced & crushed is what I suggest); keep only canned tomatoes during fall and spring, fresh tomatoes at that time are pretty bad
Broth or stock
Rice – long grain white, long grain brown, Arborio
Oats – rolled, steel-cut, instant
Couscous - I choose whole wheat
Vinegar – white, balsamic, cider
Sesame oil - great for Asian dishes
Roasted peppers - this and the previous two go great in pasta
Canned veggies - I'll admit it. I keep them around for a quick side dish. I even cook them in the microwave. (What kind of foodie am I?)
Tea - I'll restore my cred here by telling you that I brew loose leaf tea. Make chai this way. You will never go back.
Canned fish - tuna, salmon, anchovies if you eat Italian a lot
Flour – all-purpose, whole wheat
Dried Herbs & Spices
Chili powder - It's a good multipurpose spice mix for chili (of course), barbecue, etc.
Nutmeg - I like buying them whole. They're the easiest to grind. You can just use a grater.
Paprika - Once again, good for a lot of things. My favorite use for it is fried chicken.
Cayenne - Good for cajun cookery and chili
Cumin - Good for mexican food and chili
Peppercorns - I keep them whole becuase they are so much more versatile than ground.
Red pepper flakes
Celery - mixed with carrots and onions, you get the basis of just about all French cooking
Bell peppers - mixed with celery and onions, you get the basis of just about all Cajun cooking
Peanut butter or other nut butter
Cheese – mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar
Apples and/or pears
Frozen fruit – berries, cherries, and peaches
Frozen veggies – spinach, peas, fries