Having a list of items to keep stocked in your pantry will give you a good starting point for many different meals. That means you will make less trips to the grocery store, and it will be easier to cook meals at home so you won’t be tempted to eat out. Each family is unique but this list of items to keep stocked in your pantry is a good place to begin.
If you’d like a list of items to keep stocked in your pantry that you can print out and use, there is one available at the end of this article. There is also a blank version you can fill in with a list of essential pantry items specific to your family’s needs.
List of Items to Keep Stocked in Your Pantry:
Rice is an inexpensive way to enhance or complete a meal. You can have an assortment of varieties on hand, or stick with the cheapest. Some of my family’s favorites are jasmine, parboiled, brown, and long grain white rice. A box of instant rice is also nice to have for times when you need to cook rice at the last minute.
We have a rice cooker similar to this one (I no longer see exact model we have). I know many people have Instant Pots these days, but not us. We have an Aroma rice cooker and a slow cooker. I use both several times a week. (I use one or the other nearly every day.) If you don’t have an Instant Pot, and your family eats rice often, you may want to consider getting a rice cooker. They are easy to use–just add rice and water–and some are even programable so you can dump the rice in anytime during the day and set it to be ready at dinnertime. Ours is programable and I love that feature!
If you buy rice in bulk (as we do) I also recommend buying some airtight containers to store it in. We have three large ones, my favorite one is this one. It is very big and really easy to wash, fill, and reseal.
You can add lentils to many different types of soups or side dishes. You can even make them into burgers! They don’t cost much, can be stored for a long time, and are filling.
Beans are very cheap and filling. You can find many different types of beans at the store—both dry and canned. Consider stocking up on both kinds. Canned are nice to quickly dump into a soup or sauce. Cooking dry beans isn’t hard, it just requires a little planning. Make a big batch of beans when you do make them, then freeze some of them. Later you’ll have cooked beans ready to go when you need them.
My husband is Guatemalan so we eat mostly black beans. (Black beans are typically eaten every day in Guatemala.) I prepare black beans in the slow cooker. If I get them started by late morning or lunch time, they are ready to go for dinner.
Pasta is also budget friendly and there are many different kinds and shapes. You can use it with a sauce, soup, stew, salad, or even by itself. Having bags or boxes of pasta in a variety of shapes is helpful to keep stocked in your pantry.
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It’s a good idea to keep an assortment of sauces in your pantry. Tomato sauce, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, alfredo sauce, salsa, and soy sauce are some of the types to keep stocked. They can be used to enhance dishes or even be a vital part of the main dish.
Dried soups in packets and canned cream soups will both prove useful in helping create meals for your family. Dried soups can be simple and cheap or there are premium packets of soup that cost a little more. Often these soups are high in sodium so you may want to limit the use of them, but there are times they come in handy.
You can also make your own dry soup mixes to be ready whenever you need them. Cream soups can also be homemade but not all of the ingredients will be shelf stable.
Seasonings and Spices
Dry dressing mixes, taco seasoning (as well as fajita, etc.), chili seasoning, dry gravy mixes, seasoned breadcrumbs, and plain breadcrumbs are all good items to have in your pantry. Keep the spices your family uses the most stocked, as well.
Ideas for basic spices: pepper, salt, cumin, dried herbs, chili powder, paprika, minced onions, onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Those are just a few, add to the list any others you use often.
Oatmeal can be added to many recipes or prepared as directed on the package for a quick breakfast or other meal. It is inexpensive and nourishing.
It is a good idea to keep a variety of oils stocked in your pantry. At the very least, consider having olive oil, vegetable oil, and a cooking spray.
Related: Meal Planning Tips
Bread & Tortillas
Whether you buy bread or bake it yourself, it’s something almost every home has and eats regularly. Flour or corn tortillas can be used to create a quick meal like enchiladas or tacos, along with many other meals.
Keeping sugar, flour, brown sugar, powdered sugar, baking soda, baking powder, corn starch, cocoa powder, and cornmeal on hand will make it easy to bake almost anything from desserts to muffins or biscuits.
You can cook potatoes in many different ways and add them to almost anything. Having a bag of potatoes in your pantry will give you several different options for dinner, included simple baked potatoes.
I prefer solid white albacore tuna packed in water, but you can use any type you like. You can eat tuna on its own, in a sandwich, or as the main dish.
Unless there is a peanut food allergy in your house, peanut butter is great to have on hand. You can cook and bake with it, use as a side for a snack (like celery or apple slices), or use it to make a sandwich.
Does your family eat cereal? Mine does and we try to keep several different types of cereal in our panty. It’s a quick breakfast or snack.
Keeping your pantry stocked with these items will save you money and make it easy for you to prepare several different meals.