11 Creative Substitutes to Buy When Pantry Staples Are Out of Stock

When you can't find your favorite pantry staples like pasta, bread and peanut butter, look for these options instead.

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Group of joyful young Asian man and woman having fun, passing and sharing food across table during party
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Can’t Find Pasta?

You can use zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash in place of pasta, or if you have flour and eggs, learn how to make pasta from scratch. Check your store’s freezer aisle for alternative pastas as well.

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peanut butter sandwich, dessert (sweets or snacks, breakfast)
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Can’t Find Peanut Butter?

Try different nut butters, like almond butter or cashew butter, or if you’d like to branch out, try allergy-friendly sun butter. If your grocery store still has peanuts and honey in stock, break out the food processor for homemade peanut butter.

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Hands of unrecognisable man holding a jar and putting sauce on his pasta at dinner.
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Can’t Find Spaghetti Sauce?

Stock up on cans of diced tomatoes and Italian seasoning for a fresh, easy pasta sauce in minutes. Have a bit more time? This stamp-of-approval spaghetti sauce will have your entire house smelling like an Italian restaurant.

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Oatmeal with apple, nuts, honey and cup of chocolate on white wooden light background. Top view. Healthy diet breakfast
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Can’t Find Oatmeal?

If the store is out of flavored oatmeal packets, grab a canister of instant oats to make your own. Or simmer quinoa in twice the cooking liquid to create a creamy, oatmeal-like consistency. Add milk and fresh berries for a healthy, protein-packed breakfast. Or try these other mix-ins.

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Woman cooking rice in saucepan on stove
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Can’t Find Rice?

Look at other grains like orzo, barley, farro, bulgur or seeds like quinoa. Cut carbs and add more vegetables to your diet when you learn how to make cauliflower rice; broccoli rice is a great option, too.

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Close Up Of Mature Man Adding Sugar To Hot Drink At Home
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Can’t Find Sugar?

In the mood for some comfort baking? Try cutting the sugar with diabetic-friendly desserts or substituting more natural alternatives like maple syrup, agave nectar and stevia.

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Various legumes: beans, chickpeas, buckwheat, lentils in glass jars on a white background. Healthy vegetarian food, vegetable protein, plant based diet concept.
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Can’t Find Beans?

If canned beans are in short supply, check out the dried goods section. Dried beans are usually cheaper and easier to find; just be sure to cook them properly before eating them. If only your go-to beans are out of stock, try other canned beans you don’t typically cook with.

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Delicious homemade sourdough rye bread on a plate and milk. Homemade baking.
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Can’t Find Bread?

Spending more time at home is the perfect opportunity to make some of your go-to staples from scratch, like basic homemade bread. Check the refrigerated and freezer sections of the grocery store for canned biscuits and dough as well.

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Paper bag and spoon with flour on table
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Can’t Find Flour?

Check your local baking aisle for baking mixes to cut your cooking time in half, or make your own gluten-free flour mix to have on hand any time the baking urge strikes.

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Woman hands holding mug of vegetable soup on white background - healthy winter vegetarian food, cozy warming soup.
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Can’t Find Soup?

When you can’t find canned soup at the store, check the freezer section for easy pasta and rice dishes to have on hand instead. Or spend a quiet afternoon in the kitchen making batches of healthy soup recipes to freeze for later.

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A white bowl of the best baked homemade macaroni and cheese on a table with a blue napkin. The recipe is made with elbow pasta and cheddar cheese. The shot is vertical and has selective focus. Macaroni and cheese is a American comfort food or soul food.
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Can’t Find Boxed Mac and Cheese?

When easy meals like canned pasta and boxed macaroni and cheese are missing from the shelves, make large portions of your own and freeze leftovers in individual portions for quick dinners later this month. You can’t beat the cheesy, creamy goodness of real slow-cooker mac and cheese.

Up next: Learn all about yogurt substitutes!

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.