How to Stock a Pantry, According to a Kitchen Expert

Keep everything you need for quick dinners and easy snacks with our favorite pantry staples.

Keeping the pantry stocked with everything you might need is a daunting task. One of our favorite secrets for maintaining a well-stocked pantry is to keep it simple. Look for versatile pantry staples that can double as dinners or snacks. A kitchen expert at our sister site Taste of Home rounded up their favorite healthy and inexpensive foods to have on hand for easy meals. While you’re organizing, keep in mind the 15 foods you should never have in your pantry.

Peanut Butter

Full of protein and healthy fats, peanut butter is a staple for simple lunches and snacks. From classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to ants on a log, there are so many quick and easy recipes for peanut butter lovers to try.


Beans provide quick protein and fiber to fill you up without requiring a long recipe or multiple ingredients. Keep a few cans in supply for a quick cowboy caviar snack or hearty slow-cooked chili dinner.


Pasta is the ultimate pantry staple; it’s cheap, quick to prepare and makes an entire meal itself. Just be sure not to make the biggest mistake everyone makes when cooking pasta.


Brown rice or quinoa can be a nutritious side dish on its own or a hearty base for tonight’s dinner. Rice is a dish that can be made simply or dressed up with whatever else you have on hand. Just be sure to follow the 5 golden rules of cooking perfectly fluffy rice.


Having an extra loaf of bread on hand is always a good idea for morning toast, lunchtime sandwiches or a dinner side. Upgrade your usual turkey sammie for one of the best sandwiches in America.

Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are a versatile pantry staple that can go from pasta dish to homemade salsa. Stock up on different flavors like garlic and green chilies to experiment with flavors. Salsa is just one of the recipes of foods you’ve been buying that you should cook at home instead that will impress everyone.


Did you know the right way to store potatoes is in the pantry? Keep a bag on the shelf for baked potatoes on busy weeknights or crispy baked fries at any time.

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

No salad dressing? No problem. Keeping olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the pantry means you’ll have homemade salad dressing or an easy marinade anytime you need it.

food cupboard, pantry with jarsMiroslav Pesek/Getty Images

Italian Seasoning

As long as you have Italian seasoning in your pantry, you can whip up a flavorful dinner in no time. Recipes using Italian seasoning like meatloaf, pasta, and soup are always a hit. Not sure how long that jar of seasoning has been in your cupboard? It may be time to restock. here’s how long spices really last before expiring.

Trail Mix

When the afternoon sweet tooth strikes, resist your child’s stale Halloween candy by reaching for a crunchy handful of trail mix. Want to up the wow factor? Make your own three-ingredient trail mix.


Can’t get to the grocery store and need a fast dinner? Stocking up on low-sodium soups like tomato and chicken noodle can save even the craziest day’s dinnertime conundrum.

Flour and Sugar

There’s just something about baking from scratch that calms us down and brings us back to the present moment. Keep baking staples in your pantry for those unexpected, quiet afternoons when you need a family activity.

Canned Fish or Chicken

Keeping canned fish or chicken in the house will come in handy for making a lunch salad or adding protein to a rice or pasta dish.

Baking Mix

If you’re stuck at home with the kids and can’t go out, you’ll be glad you kept that extra box of baking mix in the pantry. Missing a few of the other additions your boxed mix needs? Here’s how to bake a box cake when you’re missing one or more of the ingredients.


Oatmeal is a filling, fiber-rich breakfast and so much more. Keep a container of quick-cooking oats in the pantry to be used for cookies, breading and protein balls. Missing some other basics? Here are the recipes for DIY pantry staples that you can make with ingredients you already have.

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Originally Published on Taste of Home

Carrie Madormo
Carrie Madormo is a business and wellness writer for internationally-recognized publications. Her writing has been featured in Working Mother, USA Today, and the Huffington Post. As a former nurse, Madormo loves to translate complex health studies into engaging content. She is passionate about empowering readers to live their best lives by taking control of their health.