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The 9 Foods To Have Stocked In Your Pantry At All Times

As we’ve learned in 2020, there are all sorts of reasons you can end up housebound. Aside from the communal spread of a virus or flu, a snow day means the kids are home from school and you’ll be ‘working’ from your home office. Sometimes your car won’t start, and alternative transportation won’t be available until the end of day.

No matter the reason, if you’re stuck at home, you’re going to get “hangry” at some point, and before you know it you’ll be searching the cabinets and fridge for something — anything — that you can easily throw together for a quick bite, or a decent meal.

Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, having a well-stocked pantry was viewed as essential, not unhealthy. And while we thankfully know more about eating well in this day and age than we did all those years ago, there are still times when a fully-loaded pantry serves you well. Keep these pantry essentials on hand at all times, and you’ll be able to whip up a quick, low-cost meal in a jiffy.

Photo: Creative Commons/enric archivell


  • Spaghetti
  • Penne

Short noodles can make mac n’ cheese, or pasta primavera that includes leftover veggies. Long noodles are good with sauces like Alfredo, marinara, or pesto.

Photo: Creative Commons/robbplusjessie


  • All-purpose flour
  • Stevia (or even good, old-fashioned, not-good-for-you sugar)

Let’s be clear- sugar isn’t for every day, so don’t get too excited. All-purpose or whole-wheat flour is essential for cakes and breads, but you can also use it to make pancakes, biscuits, or a fresh egg pasta.

Whole Grains And Breads

  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Bread

When you have two slices of bread- voila- you’ve got a sandwich, which, in addition to being super easy to prepare, is a great way to get your hands on some delicious leftovers.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Lavenderstreak

Beans And Legumes

  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans

If you’re looking for an economical protein alternative to meat, beans and legumes are an affordable solution.


Oil And Vinegar

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar

Don’t underestimate the tastiness of marinades and salad dressings, when it comes to dressing up your everyday salad. Apple cider vinegar makes a tasty vinaigrette, and avocado oil added to something like almond butter, with a pinch (yes, only a pinch!) of soy sauce creates a tasty peanut sauce.

Photo: Creative Commons/Pest15

Nuts And Seeds

  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Basic nuts and seeds are a great, healthy snack on their own, but they also add a delicious, crunchy texture to salads, oatmeal, and baked goods.

Canned Goods

  • Tomatoes   
  • Pasta sauces           
  • Coconut milk           
  • Stock or bouillon

Coconut milk, stock, and tomatoes can be used as great bases for soup, chili, curry, and more. You can also cook rice and quinoa in stock or coconut milk to add some flavor to those grains.

Photo: Creative Commons/KrAzY KorY

Herbs And Aromatics

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Italian seasoning
  • Crushed red pepper

Buying pre-minced garlic makes it easy to add fresh garlic to any of your dishes; cumin is a staple in Mexican dishes; and Italian seasoning includes all the tasty seasonings you’d likely want, without having to buy seven different bottles, and measuring out the ingredients of each.

Photo: Creative Commons/ChadMT

Condiments And Sauces

  • Dijon mustard
  • Soy sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Honey
  • Peanut butter

Boring veggies and mediocre meats get very tasty when you add condiments and sauces to them. Mix Dijon mustard with oil and vinegar for a snappy salad dressing.

Eating fresh is always best, but in today’s busy world, there’s no shame in possessing a nicely-filled pantry, especially if you’re staring down the gauntlet of potentially many days in a row where you won’t be leaving the house.