Pantry Staples – Items You Should Have on Hand

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A well-stocked pantry can be a lifesaver! Make sure you check out this listing of pantry staples you should have. Make meal planning easier.

Pantry Staples – Items You Should Have on Hand

A well-stocked pantry is a game-changer when it comes to being able to prepare a meal without having to run to the grocery store.

Having a well-stocked pantry can be a lifesaver on weekdays when unexpected expenses may be cutting into your grocery budget, or maybe bad weather is coming and you don’t want to fight the panicked shoppers at the grocery store.

Which happens often in Upstate New York. Snowstorms coming, and everyone fights to get a gallon of milk, bread, and other pantry staples. If you have a full pantry, you have nothing to worry about. So what pantry items should you always have on hand? Let’s cut to the chase and break down those pantry essentials.

I believe every family should have their very own list of pantry staples. Every list will vary slightly based on budget, taste, and diet restrictions. But I am sure this list below will help you to better understand your essentials.

Read More Great Ideas About Meal Planning on Inspiring Savings

Pasta, Rice, and Grains

Your pantry should include a variety of uncooked pasta, rice, and grains. These items can be used to fill out a meal to make it stretch further or as the main component of a meal.

These items are relatively inexpensive and can be kept for a long time. Quinoa, oatmeal, grits, or polenta are also very filling and can help to give your pantry meals some versatility. 


Spices are a very important part of giving the food you cook flavor, and having a variety of spices on hand means that you have a lot of flavor options to choose from. You may not be able to get all the spices you would like to have at once, because they can be a little expensive, but they do last a long time.

Some basics to start with are salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, curry powder, cumin powder, cinnamon, ginger, mustard powder, and red pepper flakes. 

Dried Herbs

Dried herbs can give your meals a lot of flavors when you don’t have fresh herbs on hand. You can use them to make a rub for meat or to give a jarred sauce or soup a kick of extra flavor.

Some of the most commonly used dried herbs are basil, oregano, and thyme, but there are lots of others to choose from. Make sure to keep your favorites on hand. 

Baking Supplies

If you have the proper supplies on hand, you can whip up a loaf of bread, rolls, cake, or brownies in no time. Some basic baking supplies you will need to keep in your pantry are flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, yeast, cornstarch, brown and white sugar, oil, cornmeal, and vanilla extract. 

With these pantry staples on hand, you will never have to worry about not having baked goods in the house.

Peanut Butter

Nothing sounds more comforting than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Peanut butter (or another nut butter – due to an allergy) can be a quick and filling food when you need to get your hunger under control.

By just grabbing a spoonful can help fill in the gap as a snack before you prepare a meal, it will satiate quickly. Use it in sandwich form, like a classic PB&J, or mix it into oatmeal for a breakfast that packs a punch. We love to bake.

One of our favorite quick-fix snacks includes peanut butter. Here is that recipe; No-Bake Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars – Gluten Free.


A well-supplied pantry should also contain a variety of beans, both canned and dried. Dried will keep much longer, but they also take longer to cook. Having a few cans of beans on hand as well is good for convenience. Beans are full of protein, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates.

You can use them to create or stretch a filling meal. Pinto beans, red beans, chili beans, black beans, navy beans, and lentils are all good choices. 


Rice can be a meal by itself or used as a side. You can even use it as a dessert or have it for breakfast. Rice is used in a variety of cuisines. It is no wonder it should be included on this list.

When you purchase in bulk, you can never go wrong. It will eventually be consumed and the price per pound makes it perfect for your budget. Our family loves jasmine rice because of its sweet flavor and ability to cook quickly.

Canned Tomatoes 

Canned tomatoes can be used to make sauces for pasta, as the base for soups or stews, or simply as an extra boost of flavor to a casserole or other dish. Tomatoes keep much longer than their fresh counterparts, so you should always have a selection of them on hand.

Just make sure that when you are using canned tomatoes, you cook them for a while so that they lose that fresh-out-of-the-can metallic taste. 

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips will last for several weeks if you keep them in a cool, dark place like your pantry. Likewise, winter squash like acorn and butternut will last for months in a cool, dark pantry. 

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic can be used to add extra texture and flavor to any dish that you might make. All types of onions and garlic will keep for a very long time if you store them in a cool, dark pantry.

Just make sure that you keep your onions away from your potatoes because the gasses that the onions put off can cause your potatoes to sprout. 

And Lastly

Having a full pantry gives you the peace of mind to know that no matter what happens, you can make dinner without having to run to the grocery store. A well-stocked pantry is also a key component of successful meal planning.

Remember that you don’t have to stock your pantry all at once. You can wait for good sales and stock it gradually. Is there anything that you find to be a must-have in your pantry that wasn’t mentioned here? 

To recap, here are the 10 Pantry Staples to Keep on Hand!

  • Pasta, Rice, and Grains
  • Spices
  • Herbs
  • Baking Supplies
  • Peanut Butter
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Root Vegetables
  • Fresh Garlic & Onions

Other Helpful Resources

5 Tips on How to Save Big At the Grocery Store Each Week

The Best Time to Buy Anytime – A Month-to-Month Grocery Sale Cycle Guide

Learning How to Menu Plan: Plus Get Free Menu Printables

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  1. Although I don’t cook at home, and my hubby is in-charge of the kitchen, I make sure that our pantry is complete with the spices that he needed. I’m only good for filling up the pantry!

  2. Yes and yes to peanut butter! It’s even criminal to me, to have a whole pantry that doesn’t have peanut butter in it. (hihi)

  3. Haven’t thought of this before. I just go out to buy anything I need. Your list is really for me to keep checking the stuff.

  4. Spices are important to keep on hand, and I don’t. My daughter recently went grocery shopping and then stopped at my place. She said they had to go home and unload first because they were going to cook dinner at my place, but then remembered I have too bland of a kitchen (in terms of spices). LOL She was not wrong.

  5. I have a lot of these spices that’s about it. I really need to stock up on things and start cooking at home more! Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. I’m happy that most of these items are already in my pantry, I will go and organize it. This is such a really great post!

  7. Understanding and knowing your essentials for the pantry is important. I’m glad to have all these.

  8. As an American living in France, peanut butter has become a staple now more than ever. I’m surprised as well at how versatile it can really be in recipes, as well as in snacking! Awesome list.

  9. We keep a lot of these as well, but I’ll have to add some of these to the list. I just started a new job and it would be helpful to have more staples on hand for putting together meals.

  10. As a cook, I really appreciate this post. If you have your staples in place, you have the base for all kinds of recipes. You can even make tasty, simple recipes without having to buy anything else.

  11. Very helpful list. I always try to have a couple of these at home so there’s no need to always run to the market for every meal.

  12. When I first started a real pantry inventory , I went to Aldi’s to stock up on inexpensive spices for my pantry to get my spice inventory started. Can’t beat the low low prices.

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