How to Stock a Pantry, According to Our Kitchen Expert

Keep everything you need for quick dinners and easy snacks with our favorite pantry staples.

Keeping the pantry stocked with everything you might need is a daunting task. One of our favorite secrets for maintaining a well-stocked pantry is to keep it simple. Look for versatile pantry staples that can double as dinners or snacks. We’ve rounded up our favorite healthy and inexpensive foods to have on hand for easy meals.

Peanut Butter

Full of protein and healthy fats, peanut butter is a staple for simple lunches and snacks. From classic PBJ sandwiches to ants on a log, there are so many quick and easy recipes for peanut butter lovers to try.

Beans

Beans provide quick protein and fiber to fill you up without requiring a long recipe or multiple ingredients. Keep a few cans in supply for a quick cowboy caviar snack or hearty slow-cooked chili dinner.

Pasta

Pasta is the ultimate pantry staple; it’s cheap, quick to prepare and makes an entire meal itself. Opt for long spaghetti noodles or short macaroni and get creative with our favorite 30-minute pasta dinners.

Rice

Brown rice or quinoa can be a nutritious side dish on its own or a hearty base for tonight’s dinner. Look for simple rice dishes like lemon chicken and rice or Spanish rice with ground beef.

Bread

Having an extra loaf of bread on hand is always a good idea for morning toast, lunchtime sandwiches or a dinner side. Upgrade your usual turkey sammie for a toasty hot sandwich tonight.

Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are a versatile pantry staple that can go from pasta dish to homemade salsa. Stock up on different flavors like garlic and green chilies.

Potatoes

Did you know the right way to store potatoes is in the pantry? Keep a bag on the shelf for baked potatoes on busy weeknights or crispy baked fries at any time.

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

No salad dressing? No problem. Keeping olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the pantry means you’ll have homemade salad dressing or an easy marinade anytime you need it.

Italian Seasoning

As long as you have Italian seasoning in your pantry, you can whip up a flavorful dinner in no time. Recipes using Italian seasoning like meatloaf, pasta and soup are always a hit.

Trail Mix

When the afternoon sweet tooth strikes, resist your child’s stale Halloween candy by reaching for a crunchy handful of trail mix. It’s a satisfying snack on its own, or up the wow factor with trail mix slices.

Soup

Can’t get to the grocery store and need a fast dinner? Stocking up on low-sodium soups like tomato and chicken noodle can save even the craziest day’s dinnertime conundrum.

Flour and Sugar

There’s just something about baking from scratch that calms us down and brings us back to the present moment. Keep baking staples in your pantry for those unexpected, quiet afternoons when you need a family activity.

Canned Fish or Chicken

Keeping canned fish or chicken in the house will come in handy for making a lunch salad or adding protein to a rice or pasta dish.

Baking Mix

If you’re stuck at home with the kids and can’t go out, you’ll be glad you kept that extra box of baking mix in the pantry. And shh—here’s the secret to making cake mix taste homemade.

Oats

Oatmeal is a filling, fiber-rich breakfast and so much more. Keep a container of quick-cooking oats in the pantry to be used for cookies, breading and protein balls.

Try These Recipes to Make with Pantry Staples
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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.