Inside: The top 100 foods that should be in every pantry. Stocking up on pantry staples maximizes your budget and ensures you’re prepared in case of emergency. Prep easily with our free printable checklist!
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What are Pantry Staples?
Pantry staples are your “basics” — food items that you use time and time again. They’re generally shelf stable for long periods of time and great for buying in bulk to save money on your grocery budget or to stock up on in case of emergency.
Having a well-stocked pantry is good even during the best of times. This helps you save money on your grocery bill because you can stock up on nonperishable food items when they go on sale! However, a well-stocked pantry can also help you during the bad times when you’re experiencing a job loss, or it isn’t safe to go to the stores.
If you have the space in your home, keeping your pantry stocked with staples is always a good idea!
Get your pantry ready, and get prepared; here are must-have pantry staples that are always good to have on hand.
How much do I need to buy?
How much you can store is based on what your family eats and how long it takes you to go through everything.
Our rule of thumb is “one for now and two for later.” That means that if something is on sale, we stock up! We buy as much as we would normally use in a week, plus extra to make it to the next sales cycle.
The other factor to consider is your grocery budget. It might not be feasible to fill up your pantry all in one go. Instead, make a plan to stock up when things go on sale and fill up your pantry little by little.
What if I Don’t Have Room in My Pantry?
Building a stockpile of pantry staples means you will likely need some extra storage shelves for your garage or a better way to keep all of those stockpile staples. Here are some great storage ideas if you don’t have room in your pantry!
- Wire Racks: These are great for putting in a spare room or a garage for extra storage. They’re very sturdy so that they can handle the weight of cans and jars. We actually use this same shelf for our craft room storage too!
- Under The Bed Storage Container: If you’re living in a small space, you can utilize the under the bed storage as a way to keep some of your unused pantry staples.
- Can Organizer: A can organizer is a great way to store your canned veggies and other canned foods right in your pantry!
100+ Must Have Pantry Staples
What you stock up on for your pantry should be the items that your family uses all the time. These will vary based on your family’s specific needs and what your family likes to eat. For example, if you have a baby in the home, then baby food might be at the top of your list. But, if you are feeding teenagers, baby food won’t get you very far.
Here are some of the pantry essentials that our family always keeps on hand:
Cooking & Baking Ingredients
These are some of the most common things you’ll find on ingredient lists for cooking and baking recipes. With these staple items, you can make an almost endless variety of dishes!
- All-Purpose Flour
- Almond Meal
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder
- Boxed Baking Mixes (cake, muffin, brownie, etc.)
- Bread Crumbs
- Chocolate Chips
- Cocoa Powder
- Coconut Milk
- Cream of Tartar
- Gelatin (Plain)
- Granulated Sugar
- Jello Mix
- Maple Syrup
- Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts, and Pecans are good options to stock up on)
- Oils (Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, and Vegetable Oil are good starters)
- Pie Filling
- Powdered Sugar
- Pudding Mix
- Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Vanilla Extract
- Vinegar (We love apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, and white vinegar)
- White Chocolate
Spices & Seasonings
Spices have been one of the most desired staple items for thousands of years, because they can help preserve foods as well as add flavor to dishes.
When it comes to stocking your spice rack, you don’t need every single spice known to man. The basics will go a long way!
- Black Pepper
- Chili Powder
- Curry Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Ground Ginger
- Italian Seasoning
- Onion Powder
- Sesame Seeds
Cereals and Dry Goods
This would probably be my kids’ favorite category! These items make for easy snack and breakfasts, as well as can be incorporated into baked goods.
- Breakfast Cereal
- Graham Crackers
- Oatmeal (instant and/or old fashioned)
- Pancake Mix
Jarred or Canned Goods
Canned veggies work great in casseroles or stew, and they can be used for items like beans or vegetables when you can’t get them fresh.
Here are some great canned food options:
- Broth (We keep beef, chicken, and vegetable broth on hand)
- Canned Soup
- Canned Whole Beans
- Canned Vegetables
- Refried Beans
- Canned Tomatoes
- Tomato Paste
Many canned items last for years as long as they are unopened, so they are ideal for emergency preparations.
Jarred food such as peaches or pickles usually don’t last as long as the canned options, but are usually stable for up to a year.
Here are some great jarred food options:
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Pasta Sauce
- Banana Peppers
- Pickles — click here to learn how to can pickles at home!
Nut Butters and Jelly
Peanut butter (or another nut butter of your choice) can be an excellent filling food option to help you bridge the gap between meals or help you prepare a quick lunch option like peanut butter sandwiches. You can also use it to make protein balls or put it in your oatmeal. Jelly is an excellent condiment for topping toast or making sandwiches with too!
No matter what kind of pasta you prefer, having several different types on hand can be a great addition to your pantry. Pasta is a great item to keep in your dry food storage because it lasts so long! You can use it in salads, soups, or as the main dish! Pasta has a long shelf life, so long as you store it properly, it should last for years!
Here are some types of our favorite varieties of pasta:
When it comes to shelf-stable proteins, there are a lot of options out there! Instead, stock up on a variety of protein food that can help you stretch your chili, stews, dips, and casseroles further without giving up meat!
Our top canned protein options:
- Canned Chicken
- Canned Tuna
- Canned Lump Crab Meat
- Canned Roast Beef
- Canned Salmon
TIP: Canned beans are also a good source of protein!
Rice is a filling stand-alone side dish and it can also be the main course, in recipes such as chicken fried rice. There is SO much you can do with rice! Rice also has a very long shelf life, making it the perfect addition to your pantry staples! It’s good to have both white rice and brown rice on hand, so you have them ready for any meal you need to make!
Root vegetables typically stay fresh for weeks or even months in a pantry setting as long as you keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place. You can store potatoes, yams, onions, garlic, squash, lemons, and even apples for months under the right conditions! Before you start stockpiling these items, test out your space with a few of these items, and then slowly build your stockpile as you adjust conditions.
- Sweet Potatoes
Sauces & Condiments
These are the extras that make ordinary meals extraordinary! I’m a ketchup person myself, so I always make sure we have plenty in our pantry!
- BBQ Sauce
- Soy Sauce
While our family mostly sticks to water for drinking, we do enjoy the occasional treat! And of course, mama can’t live without her coffee!
- Drink Mixes
Most of the items in our pantry essentials list could be considered emergency supplies, as well as everyday necessities. However, there are a few more preps here that are helpful when you don’t have electricity or can’t get out of the house in a true emergency. They would also be good to have in your bug-out bag!
Hopefully, this list has given you and your family some great options for where to start when stocking up your pantry! Remember that even just buying a few extras of these items can help you save money and keep you out of the store longer!
Is there anything we should add to our list? I’d love to hear your pantry must-haves in the comments below!
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