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7 Pantry Staples to Always Have (Never Run Out Again!)

by | Jan 30, 2021 | Thrive

When the world seems unstable, it’s time to take stock of your food supply. That way, no matter what’s going on, you know you can always feed your family a good quality meal. Here are the seven pantry staples I always have on hand.

Pantry staple items sitting on a counter.

We’re big proponents of having a well-stocked, organized pantry and building up your long term food supply. Not only is having food on the shelf as good as having money in the bank, but it will give you peace of mind knowing you’ll be able to feed your family well, even in stressful or difficult times.

(Read this post for 9 emergency preparedness tips to be ready for anything.)

In this post we’re covering the basic pantry staples we’re never without. If you follow these basic principles, you can rest easy knowing you’re prepared and well-stocked, even if the grocery store shelves are stripped of certain food items as they were this past year.

When keeping your pantry stocked with food, there are a few principles to remember…

Only Store What You Will Eat

It can be tempting to buy a bulk container of food when it’s a great deal at the store, but if your family will never eat it, then you’ve wasted money and not actually gotten ahead.

Instead, wait for the great deals on the food you and your family love, then stock up on those items. It’s better to have 50 cans of your favorite soup than it is one tin of anchovies you’ll never eat (although we happen to love anchovies!).

Stay Ahead of Your Consumption

Always stay ahead of your consumption by planning to shop for extra of your pantry staples. When you grocery shop for the week, toss a couple extra bottles of oil, pasta sauce, or a few bags of beans into your cart to start stocking your shelves.

You don’t have to go out and bulk buy everything all at once, this can be both overwhelming and cost-prohibitive. It’s much easier to build up your food supply a little each week.

Before you know it you’ll have a well-stocked pantry you can be proud of and take comfort in.

Canned food arranged on pantry shelves.

Know How You’ll Store Your Food BEFORE You Buy

Consider storage first! Ask yourself some basic questions such as…

  • Do I have space for this?
  • Is this item shelf-stable as is, or does it need a different container?
  • Do I need to break the container down into manageable or useable sizes?

Knowing how you’re going to store what you buy before you buy it will help save a headache (or wasted food) later on. If you buy a large bag of flour, but don’t have the ability to store it correctly, that flour could go bad, get bugs in it, or collect moisture.

Read this post for more info on how we bulk buy and build up our long-term food storage.

Pantry Staples List – Items To ALWAYS Have On Hand

Here are the seven pantry staples I always have on hand. These are items that I set a base amount and never go below. If we get down to one five-gallon bucket of grain, we replenish our supply as if we were out!

  • Grains & Legumes
  • Fats & Oils
  • Sweeteners
  • Baking & Pantry Staples
  • Meats & Proteins
  • Fruits & Veggies
  • Convenience Foods
  • BONUS: Comfort Foods

Grains & Legumes

Dry beans spilling out of a jar next to some other pantry staples.

I always have grains and legumes on hand and I buy them in bulk because they store really well. I can save money by buying these items in bulk and I don’t have to worry about the food spoiling with a short expiration date.

Then I always have a variety of dried beans stored in buckets or jars because they make a great complete meal that will keep everyone full and happy. I often can beans to make them readily available for those nights you need a quick meal. We love all kinds of beans, but some common beans are pinto, kidney, and black beans. Buy what your family loves best.

Wheat is a pantry staple I’m never without (which can be cooked whole or ground into flour) and we love buying in bulk from Pleasant Hill Grain. Two more items are oats for oatmeal and white or brown rice.

Fats & Oils

Two gallon jugs of olive oil, a gallon of coconut oil and a gallon of honey on a shelf.

Fats and oils are typically one of the first items to disappear off grocery store shelves in an emergency. They’re great items to stock your pantry with because they add flavor and essential fat that will both give you energy and help you stay full.

My favorite oils are homemade butter, which we make all throughout the summer and store in the freezer, plus olive oil, lard, and coconut oil stored in large gallon buckets. Other options are vegetable oils like avocado oil.


Honey being ladled from a five gallon container into a one gallon jar.

Sweeteners also disappear quickly off the grocery store shelves (and even our own home shelves), so keeping extra stocked up is a really smart decision.

Not to mention, having sweeteners means you can make up a delicious treat to bring comfort in the midst of a pandemic, and that helps alleviate a little bit of stress for everyone.

If regular sugar becomes scarce, consider stocking other forms of sweetener such as molasses, brown rice syrup, and even monk fruit or stevia.

Baking & Pantry Staples

Bread, flour and other wheat baked goods on a table.

Some basic baking and pantry staples I like to stock up on are things like vinegar for salad dressing, baking soda, baking powder, and salt for baking. Basically, all the staples to continue baking regular food for your family.

One of my favorite places to stock up on pantry staples is Azure Standard.

For us, this also includes things like dried herbs (learn how to dry your own herbs here), and any other seasonings or spices your family uses often. This may look different for you, so consider what you cook and bake at home on a regular basis and what common ingredients those items require.

Meats & Proteins

A woman lifting jars of canned stew up into a pressure canner.

I like to keep a variety of meats in multiple forms. We have frozen meat in the freezer, canned meat on the pantry shelf, and even dehydrated meat.

Eggs are another protein item we like to store. You can preserve eggs by water glassing, we like to freeze eggs in ziplock bags, but one of our favorites is pickling eggs to store in the pantry. This year we’re even experimenting with freeze-drying eggs.

Fruits & Veggies

A large jar of dehydrated tomatoes.

Fresh fruits and veggies are the best way to go, but sometimes you won’t have access to them. Unless you can garden year-round, you’ll want to keep some canned, frozen, dehydrated, and even freeze-dried fruits and veggies on your pantry shelf.

We love having fruit-bearing trees on our property and we’re continually doing our best to prune and maintain our fruit trees for the best production. We definitely recommend planting some if you have the space to do so as this is the most cost-effective way to get stored fruit on your pantry shelves.

Convenience Food

Three jars of home canned food.

Last, but certainly not least, are convenience foods. We like storing quick and easy meals such as canned beef stew that we can heat and eat (or even eat straight from the jar if heating isn’t an option).

Another favorite is homemade canned tomato soup (which you can learn how to make here for free!). Something else we do on a regular basis is to cook once and eat twice. When you cook a meal you can double it up and freeze one for later.

Also having simple shelf-stable pantry meals like dry pasta and a jar of marinara sauce or macaroni and cheese are a good thing to have on the shelf just to keep everyone fed and happy in a pinch.

Comfort Foods

An old fashioned hand-crank ice cream maker with fresh vanilla ice cream.

Coffee anyone?

A bonus pantry staple that we just had to mention are comfort foods. They don’t necessarily need to be coffee or sweets (although having a well-stocked coffee supply and a stash of chocolate for mom is a must in our home!), so consider the items that bring you comfort and keep some extras on the pantry shelf, in the freezer, or wherever makes sense.

The biggest thing to remember in stocking up your pantry is that it doesn’t have to happen overnight, but it should happen.

If space is an issue, consider having a few small totes you can store in a back closet, under a bed, or even in the garage (as long as the temperature isn’t an issue).

Get a plan, make a list, and take it one grocery trip at a time!

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– Carolyn and Josh 


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