Here are the best pantry staples to keep on hand at all times
This list of 18 food items that you should always keep in your pantry, will help you create frugal, healthy, and quick meals. When you keep these pantry staples on hand, dinner time is so much smoother. These items will help you to feel great about your grocery budget and what you’re feeding your family.
I would highly recommend buying in bulk, the items you know your family loves, to get the best bang for your buck.
1. Nut or Seed Butter
Nut butters and seed butters are not only great for sandwiches, but can be a great addition to sauces and baking!
Pasta allows for so many meal options! And with a variety of pastas on the market for various dietary needs, pasta is a real family favourite.
3. Rice or Quinoa
Having rice or quinoa on hand allows for great nutritious side dish options that cook quickly.
4. Canned beans
Dry beans are a great inexpensive option as well, but for quick meals, canned is the way to go! Here are some I like to keep on hand: Pinto, Chickpeas, Garbanzo, Kidney, Black, Cannellini and Refried.
5. Canned tomatoes
Canned tomatoes are so versatile they can be used in things like chili, soups, fajitas, spaghetti and more! I like to have these in my pantry: Tomato Sauce, Diced Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes and Tomato Paste.
No meal is complete without some seasoning from spices! Even if it’s just pepper and salt! Here are some of my favourite spices that get regular use around here: Onion powder, Garlic powder, Ginger, Cumin, Seasoned Salt, Cinnamon, Salt, Black Pepper, Chili Powder, Dried Basil and Dried Oregano.
Applesauce is a great food staple to store in the pantry because it can be used to replace oil in a crunch. It binds all the ingredients together while baking things like cookies, loafs and cakes. If stored properly, it can last 12 to 18 months on the shelf.
8. Canned Tuna
Canned tuna or salmon are excellent sources of protein and omegas that don’t have to be cooked.
9. Stock or Broth
Pre-made stock or broth makes so many meals faster and easier. Some varieties that I like to have on hand are: Chicken, Vegetable, Beef, Bouillon cubes or powder.
Oatmeal is a breakfast staple in a lot of homes, especially when the temperature gets cold in the winter. Not only does it make for a great hearty breakfast, it can be used to make oatmeal cookies, granola bars and even bread.
11. Baking Ingredients
Having staple baking ingredients on hand at all times will save you big bucks on your grocery bill. It’s always so much cheaper (and tastier) to create from scratch than to buy something pre-made. Here are the baking ingredients I suggest you have on hand: Flour, Sugar (white, brown and powdered), baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, yeast, oats and chocolate chips.
12. Condensed soups
While you can make your own cream of “something” soups, I highly recommend having a few cans of condensed soup on hand to make meal prep really easy on hectic days.
Having condiments on hand at all times is something else I recommend to make delicious meals. Here are the ones we regularly keep on hand: Ketchup, mustard, dijon, soy sauce, vinegar (white, apple cider, red wine, rice), BBQ sauce, Worcestershire, honey, maple syrup, peanut butter, mayonnaise and salad dressing.
14. Pasta sauce
Spaghetti is a meal that is on regular rotation here. I don’t over complicate it by having a few jars of pasta sauce on hand. Sometimes I like to add some fresh vegetables like carrots or mushrooms to jazz it up a bit along with the usual ground beef.
Tortilla shells are so versatile. They work for taco night, pizzas, wraps and so much more! I even have a recipe for making your own! See the homemade tortilla recipe here.
Potatoes can keep for a long time if they are kept in a cool dark place! The same goes for sweet potatoes too.
17. Frozen vegetables
I prefer having frozen vegetables over canned vegetables because I find they are more cost effective and I can control the sodium. (I always have fresh on hand too!) Frozen vegetables make for great quick side dishes and additions to soups or casseroles.
18. Cooking oil
My favourites are olive oil, grapeseed oil and avocado oil. I use each of those oils for stove top cooking, but I only use grapeseed oil and avocado oil for baking because they don’t have a strong flavor.
Related pantry staple articles:
- Basic Pantry Staples List (and free printable)
- How to make a meal with what’s left in your pantry
- How to eat from the pantry to actually save
- How to stock your pantry on a budget
In case you need some easy cheap meal ideas that you can create with some of these staples, I created a list of ideas for you!
Pantry Staple Meals
- Quesadillas: Butter one side of a tortilla shell, place grated cheese and other toppings (meat, salsa, tomatoes, peppers…etc), then fold the tortilla in half and fry until lightly browned and cheese is melted.
- BBQ Chicken: Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker and pour a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce over top. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours. Shred chicken with a fork and serve over buns or potatoes.
- Spaghetti: Brown some ground beef and stir in a jar of pasta sauce after draining the grease. Red lentils also work really well in pasta sauce! Boil your favorite pasta noodles.
- Italian Chicken: Place chicken breast in the slow cooker and pour a bottle of Italian dressing over tip. Cook on high for 3 – 4 hours or low for 5 – 6 hours. Shred with a fork.
- Tacos: Brown a pack of ground beef, turkey or chicken. Drain the grease. Add a packet of taco seasoning and some water. (You can also make your own taco seasoning.) Serve in tortilla shells or crunchy taco shells with your favorite toppings.
- Pizza: Using a homemade pizza crust, store bought crust, tortilla shell, naan bread, pita bread or even bagels, spread pizza sauce over top and sprinkle with mozzarella and your favorite toppings. Bake at 400℉ for about 15 minutes.
- French Toast: Mix 2 eggs with 2/3 cup milk. Dip 6 pieces of thick bread into the mixture until fully coated. Cook in a frying pan on medium heat. Flip once, until both sides are browned.
- Pork Chops with Cream of Mushroom or Chicken Soup: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pork chops in an oven safe dish. Mix cream of mushroom or chicken soup with water until smooth. Pour over pork chops then bake for about 25 minutes or until the pork reaches a minimum of 145 °F in the middle. Serve with rice or potatoes.
What are some of your go-to meals using pantry staples? Any staples you would add to my list?