Pantry Staples List

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on March 17, 2010

I recently asked on the $5 Dinners Facebook Fan page what you would like to see in a “grocery shopping list” template.  And while I have a few shopping lists in the works, several of you asked for a basic pantry staples list.  So I wanted to ask everyone for help in creating an Pantry Staples List.

  • What ingredients MUST be in your pantry at all times?
  • What ingredient would you make a special trip back to the grocery store if you ran out?
  • What is your favorite “pantry” meal…meaning a meal that you can whip together with a few ingredients from the pantry?!?

Thanks for helping me put together a comprehensive and useful Pantry Staples List!

P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Erin Go Bragh!!!

{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather March 17, 2010 at 8:28 am

flour, sugar, butter, salt, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, brown sugar, tomato/pasta sauce, pasta, rice, chicken/beef/veggie broth, cinnamon, pepper, italian seasoning, jar minced garlic, garlic powder,shredded/block cheese

id make a special trip back for flour seen as most of the stuff i make doesn’t come out of a box now so this is a staple.

a go to meal would be spaghetti and sauce


Connie Petertonjes March 17, 2010 at 8:31 am

My staples are:

Canned Potatoes
Canned Carrots
Canned Tomatoes
Broth (chicken, beef and vegetable)
Cream of Chicken Soup
Pasta Sauce
Peanut Butter
Soups (like chicken noodle, vegetable beef, etc.)
Pancake Mix
Madarin Oranges
Pudding mix

These are the things that I hate to be without. I figure, I can always whip up some soup and sandwiches on a night when things don’t go as planned. I love using canned potatoes in things like stews and even for stuff like pot roast. Same with canned carrots. That way, I don’t have to worry about whether or not they are done. I add pureed tomatos to things like taco meat and sloppy joes so my kids get some extra veggies. I always like to have pasta and sauce on hand. It is super easy to brown some frozen ground beef or turkey, add some cheap pasta sauce and serve over pasta for a quick and easy meal. ANd, I seem to use broth and cream of chicken soup in a lot of recipes. We are cereal fanatics, so we go through that like crazy. And, when all else fails, we can always have pancakes or waffles for dinner and the kids think it is a super special dinner, when in reality, I am just exhausted and don’t feel like doing anything else! Instant pudding and a little whipped cream makes a super fast dessert. Finally, I like keeping peaches and oranges in the pantry because I try to serve fruit at every meal.


Megan March 17, 2010 at 8:38 am

Flour, potatoes and eggs. It has to be stocked at all times otherwise I will make a special trip to the store. With that I can always throw together some pancakes/waffles, hashbrowns and eggs and everyone is happy.


Mama Laundry March 17, 2010 at 8:49 am

Must be in my pantry:
white flour
AP Flour
Salt/spices (Cumin, cinnamon, cream of tartar, nutmeg, garlic and onion pwdr)
Crisco (I know, I know…but I can’t make a good biscuit without it and I AM a southern girl )
Sugar – white and brown
Ritz Crackers/Bread crumbs
Confectioner’s Sugar
Olive Oil
Vegetable Oil
Baking soda and powder

I always have ingredients in my pantry for Chicken Enchiladas. It’s one of my family faves! Something is drastically wrong if I am out of the ingredients for it.



Jennifer Markowski March 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

Not including basic baking supplies & spices, I’d say:
rice, lentils, canned tomatoes, pasta, breadcrumbs, almonds, walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, honey, cornmeal, snack crackers for baby, dark chocolate


Debbie March 17, 2010 at 9:01 am

A must for MY pantry is
1. Pasta
2. chili beans
3. canned tomatoes
4. soup
5. crackers
6. olive oil
7. pasta sauce
8. beans
9. rice
10. spices
11. flour
12. sugar


Annie March 17, 2010 at 9:07 am

Yeast is a must for me. I make a lot of pizza dough and other breads that require yeast and I would totally make a special trip to the store to get some.
As far as other staples; I would say the other ladies have pretty much covered all the basics for me.

My pantry meal is homemade pizza! It’s so versitile! You can keep it simple with just cheese or make it with whatever meat and veggies you have on hand!


Tacy M March 17, 2010 at 9:18 am

Flour is a must in my baking house, butter too. My kids would say tortillas.


Amanda March 17, 2010 at 9:49 am

My basic pantry list: sugar, flour, butter, baking soda, spices, rice, pasta, canned tomatoes, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, olive oil or vegetable oil, eggs, ketchup, peanut butter, bread, potatoes, canned or frozen veggies, pasta sauce, beef/chicken broth cubes or liquid broth, shredded or block cheese. These are things I don’t usually go without. My favorite pantry meal is spaghetti or any pasta with tomatoes or sauce.


KNC March 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

In addition to what everyone else wrote, I always have:
canned beans (black, garbanzo, kidney)
canned corn
jars of artichoke hearts
enchilada sauce
canned olives
canned chiles
Great topic!


Candi March 17, 2010 at 9:55 am

Dried Beans (various kinds)
Baking Soda
Baking Powder
Vegetable Oil
Brown Sugar
Powdered Sugar
Spices (various but definitely Salt & Pepper)
Peanut Butter
Pasta Sauce (spaghetti sauce)
Canned Tomatoes
Canned Green Beans (the only kind my hubs will eat)

I’d run back out to get sugar, flour, oil (eggs or milk).

My easiest pantry meal is Chicken & Rice Casserole.


Jen March 17, 2010 at 9:55 am

Besides baking essentials (flour, sugar, baking powder and soda) and several seasonings (cumin, cinnamon, Italian seasoning), I always have canned tomatoes, re-fried beans, tuna and pasta of some sort.


fairydust March 17, 2010 at 10:27 am

brown rice, pasta, canned broth, jar salsa, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, canned beans, dried beans, lentils, honey, tuna, soup, evap milk, green chiles, dried fruit, nuts, olive oil.

Honestly, now that it’s just the hubs and me (or more recently just me), I can’t think of anything other than milk that I’d run to the store for, and probably not even that.


Allison March 17, 2010 at 10:30 am

canned tomatoes, canned black beans, chicken broth, rice (typically both brown and white), pasta, pasta sauce, soy sauce, cream of mushroom soup, baking mix, plus all the baking stuff like flour, sugar (brown, powdered, & granulated), vanilla, baking soda & powder, yeast

My go-to meal is pasta & sauce (or something with the canned tomatoes) and I usually have a bag of frozen meatballs to throw in. Or we’ll have breakfast for dinner as a go-to meal, typically pancakes and eggs.


fairydust March 17, 2010 at 10:36 am

whoops, forgot a biggie — peanut butter!


Robin March 17, 2010 at 10:38 am

Italian Spices
Spaghetti Sauce (which lately has been my own canned tomatoes)
Spaghetti Noodles (preferably whole wheat)
Egg Noodles (also preferably whole wheat)
Mushroom Soup
Canned Green Beans
Canned Peas
Canned Chicken
Taco Seasoning

Now if we add in the fridge and Freezer…
Hamburger (any kind)
and most important!! Cheese! (any kind)

My off the cuff meal would be spaghetti or tuna noodle casserole.


Suz March 17, 2010 at 10:43 am

our fave pantry meal is California Baked Beans & Mac & Cheese

requires 1# frozen pre-browned ground beef/chuck
1 can baked beans
brown sugar

box of mac & cheese, margarine, milk

can of green beans or corn for a veggie, boxed brownie mix baked up for dessert

my kids & dh inhale it. every time.


Kristine March 17, 2010 at 11:19 am


AMEN on the brownie mix! We are always having a luncheon or some type of get together at work. When I forget to plan ahead, brownies are the easiest thing for me to bake!


Kristine March 17, 2010 at 11:17 am

All of my staples have already been covered, but some of my favorite pantry meals are:

1. Taco bake: salsa, macaroni and cheese (from a box), and beef
2. Shake n’ Bake: it can be adapted to whatever meat is on hand
3. Canned tomatoes and rice will always make a meal if you have some chicken on hand.
4. Of course spaghetti!
5. I ALWAYS like to have a can of cream of chicken soup!! It can go with any kind of meat, then add a can of veggies and we have dinner!


Reid March 17, 2010 at 11:32 am

Cream of Chicken (or mushroom)
wheat flour
AP flour
canned pumpkin (make homemade waffles for the kids)
Flax seed meal (goes in waffles and alot of other stuff)
French onion and Beef consume soup (to whip up brown rice)
different kinds of pastas
speghetti sauce
tomato sauce and paste
diced tomatoes
cheeses (ok, not pantry technically but always make sure we have some on hand)
chicken broth
chicken and beef boullion

ok, I think that it he majority. And while there isn’t one specific ‘pantry meal’ I like to whip up, I always make sure I have Speghetti supplies on hand. And now that I make my kids’ waffles at home (to add protein in), I usually have all those things stocked as well. A double batch will last me two weeks. Love those!


Marie @ Filling My Family March 17, 2010 at 11:50 am
Amy March 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm

HMMMM. Some of your readers have things in their pantries that I never buy – let alone stock regularly.
My staples:
salt/pepper/spices (especially no-salt seasoning)
rice (different kinds)
beans (canned & dried – different kinds) lentils & the like
canned tomatoes (paste/sauce/diced)
potatoes (fresh – sweet & white)
onions (fresh)
canned mushrooms
pasta sauce

not unlike most of the other responders – pasta & sauce with a can of mushrooms is an “in a pinch” pantry meal. But I also can easily make your lentil bake – with just the addition of cheese.


Amy March 17, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I forgot
olive oil
& your basic baking supplies – flour, sugar (white & brown), baking powder, baking soda

& several baby/toddler foods that I hope we will start to phase out. Seriously for how long do you give them puffs/cheerios?


Kim March 17, 2010 at 1:23 pm

My pantry favorites have pretty much been covered, but one of my go-to meals would be risotto. 1 cup of arborio rice, 3-4 cups chicken broth, simmer, stir in whatever other stuff you have on hand at the end (veggies, meats, cheeses, pretty much anything goes) and you have a delicious one pot wonder!!


Jennifer March 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm

spaghetti sauce
mozzarella cheese
hot dogs
taco bell dinner kit (DH doesn’t eat any other brand lol)
Ground meat
cereal (mommy just isn’t a morning persons)

I will leave the house to buy just milk but the rest are things i will buy weekly if I don’t have any in the stockpile.


Shandra March 17, 2010 at 1:50 pm

flour,sugar, pastas,potatoes,tea, cream of mushroom and chicken.

Will run out for sugar and potatoes


Jenn March 17, 2010 at 3:05 pm

All my standards have been covered. As long as you have canned tomato products, cream of X soup, rice, pasta, spices, oils and soya sauce you can always whip up something.

My favorite totally pantry meals are tuna noodle casserole (tuna, noodles, cream of X soup, canned peas, onion flakes and dried dill – if not limited to just the pantry I’d rather use fresh onions and frozen peas and top with shredded cheese). Another all pantry meal is vegetarian chili – tomatoes, sauce, kidney beans, canned corn, onion flakes, chili powder and cumin. Adding ground beef and fried onions and green peppers makes it much better but it can be done completely from the cupboard.


Jenn March 17, 2010 at 3:08 pm

We all got hung up on the food and completely missed the most important item. COFFEE!


Kristie Speakman March 20, 2010 at 10:14 am

@Jenn, If we were out of coffee I couldn’t even make it out to get more, I would have to send the husband!!!

Reply March 17, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Canned Soup (especially of the creamed varieties)
powdered eggs
dried beans
whole wheat

Those basics can create many meals for us!


Laura @ PARING DOWN March 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I would add Ro-tel tomatoes and Ranch-Style beans.

Happy SP Day!


Tina March 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I need to show you a picture of mine. I all my baking items in a basket. So when I bake all i do is pull it out and ready to bake.


Hilary March 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I think the only thing I would run to the store for is milk. I grew up on a dairy farm and milk is essential for every meal.

Pantry meal definitely pasta and sauce. We also make soup and sandwiches as a quick meal.


janet March 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm

My staples are all very similar to those listed. Honestly, I will not make a special trip for anything. I will work around what I have available.

My “go- to” pantry meal is crock pot chili. Anything and everything can go into it and it is a fabulous, unique dish each time :)


Makenzie March 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I think you’ve got the pantry covered. My go to meal is taco soup. All from cans!! Love it!


Laura K. March 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm

In addition to what others have said…chocolate chips, raisins, honey, and oats.


Betsy March 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Rice is a big one for me, too. Salsa, coffee. I was thinking the other day–the only things I would run out for in an emergency would be coffee (for me) and milk (for my kids). Everything else can wait.

My best pantry meal is probably beans and rice, with salsa and usually cheese.


Barbara(fast, fit, frugal, foodie March 17, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Im in agreement with many items above, the abosolutes “musts” I CANT do without are- salt(kosher preferably) extra virgin olive oil, canelloni beans, canned tunafish, whole wheat noodles, garlic cloves, canned diced tomatos. I can make many a meal out of those items, and very frugally(:


Barbara(fast, fit, frugal, foodie March 17, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Im in agreement with many items above, the abosolutes “musts” I CANT do without are- salt(kosher preferably) extra virgin olive oil, canelloni beans, canned tunafish, whole wheat noodles, garlic cloves, canned diced tomatos. I can make many a meal out of those items, and very frugally(:


Lou Ann March 17, 2010 at 7:58 pm

I am a bachelor living on unemployment benefits and when I am not I still living on a tight budget, so my pantry has easy stuff to make in a couple of minutes.
Peanut Butter
Mac N Cheese
Canned fruit
Canned diced tomatoes
Jar of spagetti sauce
Seasonings –especially Natural Seasonings which has several seasonings in it. I can put that on anything from meat to salads
Salad dressing
Rice a roni pasta
Fruit cups

I would run back to the store mostly for tuna, pasta and fruit cups–for pantry.

My favorite pantry meal seems to be a meal only people from Indiana know about. It is called macroni and tomato. It is very simple.

Macroni or some other pasta of your chosing
Can of diced tomatoes

You just boil water, put in elbow macroni or what ever pasta you want to use and cook it till it is done. Then drain the water from the macroni, add some margarine, add the whole can of diced tomatoes with the liquid, salt and pepper to taste and return the pot to the burner and cook till the tomatoes are warm. Then serve as a side dish. I like to use diced tomatoes with jalapenos in it. It makes it spicer and has more flavor.


Katharine March 17, 2010 at 8:56 pm

For my pantry: Canned beans, canned tomatoes, rice, pasta, canned corn – I always have the basics (salt, pepper, olive oil, spices, flour, etc.)
I’d definitely go back for: Canned beans/canned tomatoes
Go to meal: A fave for all of us – Beans and rice – with corn, diced tomatoes, lots of spices and salsa – yummy, quick and healthy!


Rachel March 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm

My go-to pantry meal has to be Tuna Burgers – 3 cans tuna, bread crumbs, mayo, dijon mustard, hot sauce, s/p. I cannot be without the ingredients for Tuna Burgers! They are extremely economical – especially when you can get tuna for less than $0.50/can.


Jen Hames March 18, 2010 at 2:01 am

I would probably go back for eggs and milk.

And my “go-to” pantry meal is “rice stuff” – rice, canned tomatoes, some sort of canned beans, spices, and whatever veggies I have on hand.


Leann March 18, 2010 at 9:00 am

Must have
Beef/Chicken Broth
Chicken Breast
Pancake mix
Turkey Bacon


Becca March 18, 2010 at 9:27 am

I keep a 3 month supply of ready to go pantry foods in my house, so almost anything we eat can come from the pantry (especially if you include the freezer). That being said here is a rundown of meals we can make from the pantry:
1. Soft Tacos (we don’t season the meat and we can use lentils or beans if we run out), cheese, Rotel and if we have it fresh spinach or lettuce
2. Mac&Cheese. Nothing fancy here, my husband and toddler LOVE it from the box.
3. Spaghetti with pasta sauce and parmesan cheese
4. Tuna salad sandwiches
5. Shepherd’s Pie (canned meat is ok in this, as is lentils instead of meat or mixed with meat; I have also made a version with chicken that was greatly enjoyed)
6. Lentil and Rice Casserole
7. Anything you can think of with rice in it, I can make from my pantry (including veggi sushi with scrambled eggs as the protien because we keep the seaweed wrappers in the pantry).

I heavily rely on my pantry for cooking. The only time my pantry has not been stocked was when I made several months worth of freezer meals right before by baby was born. And now that he is 2 months old we have been stocking it up again. I haven’t even mentioned the super simple recipes like canned chili or soup and crackers (for those nights when 15 minutes is too long a wait for dinner).


knikki2000 March 18, 2010 at 9:51 am

My pantry is mostly covered already, but has to have:

Rice – Brown and Arborio
Tomatoes – Sauce, diced, and paste
Green beans
Mac and Cheese
Pasta – Egg noodles, rice noodles, and spagehtti
Pasta Sauce
Baking stuff – flour, sugar, yeast, etc.
Beans – Black and kidney at a minimum, usually garbanzo and white and others as needed or on sale
Spices – I have one cupboard full

My go to meals are Hillbilly Housewife’s 5-can bean soup or mac and cheese with tuna and peas (always have these in the freezer)

The only thing I will make a special trip to the store for is milk and that is only because I have a 21 month old at home who needs it every day. Even with milk we usually keep a coupld of boxes of LaLa brand shelf stable whole milk in the cupboard. It is about the wam price for a quart that we usually pay for a gallon, but I like to have one or tow in reserve incase we run out and can’t get to the store. Plus I buy it on sale so it is not so bad.


Rhonda Hall March 18, 2010 at 9:53 am

Staples have pretty well been covered but I keep canned chicken on hand and can make chicken enchillada casserole in a pinch..Layer tortilla chips in a 9x 13″ dish ,(mix in a bowl ) 2 cans of chicken, 1 can rotel tomatoes with chiles,1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 medium onion cut up, and 1 egg. pour on top of chips then add a layer of any kind of shredded cheese and bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes…Fast and Good!
I would make a trip to the store for French Vanilla Creamer..Can’t have coffee without it!! Powered or liquid


Alyssa March 18, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Have you created the list yet? Will you be posting it here on the BLOG?


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom March 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm


Working on it! And yes, I hope to share it next week!


teresa March 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

In addition to what are the general basics for most folks, I always have:

Canned Tuna in water
canned black beans
canned corn
jar of yeast
3 or 4 different styles of salsa
misc canned veggies (canned due to health issues otherwise I would only have fresh)

Yeast is probably the one ingredient I would make a special trip to the store for. This is besides eggs and milk.

As long as I have tuna, butter, flour & milk, I can make Creamed Tuna. Served over either pasta, rice, or toast. That is my main pantry meal as my kids love it. My 20yo asks for it frequently and has made it into her one ‘go to’ meal when she is cooking for her boyfriends family.


Becky March 19, 2010 at 11:01 am

Most of the basics are covered, but I always have:
1. AP flour (I buy in 25 lb bags from Sams)
2. Bread flour (same, in 25 lbs bags, I bake my own bread)
3. Yeast
4. Kosher Salt
5. Any baking supplies – baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, honey, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc
6. Old-fashioned oats
7. Goldfish (my toddler’s favorite snack!)
8. Pasta sauce or tomato sauce
9. Pasta
10. Dried beans
11. Seasonings – taco seasoning and other spices
12. Eggs
13. Shredded cheese
14. Butter
15. Chocolate chips :)

I also have to have some bananas on hand for snacks and there are always a few in the freezer for quick banana bread – also a favorite snack for the toddler and DH. I buy flour, honey, yeast and butter in bulk for bread making, pancakes, other baked goods and granola for cereal and for chewy granola bars. I PANIC when I’m low on flour, butter and eggs. :) I can’t wait for the comprehensive list. My go to meals are usually in the freezer, but if nothing is there, we do pasta and sauce with homemade bread, butter and garlic salt (and cheese if we have it) under the broiler for garlic cheese toast. That is DIVINE. :)


The Prudent Homemaker March 19, 2010 at 7:17 pm

My pantry list:

Two weeks worth of meals from pantry-only items:

I don’t usually go to the store for just one item. I rarely have that luxury, as we’re often living from our pantry for months at a time!


Debbi March 19, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I shop at Costco and buy a lot of things in bulk. I feed about 12 people per week with daycare, sometimes more so we go through a lot of food. Items that I always have on hand, cream of chicken and mushroom soup, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, rotel, canned beans, mostly black and kidney but then I keep white, chickpeas, pinto and refried too. Pasta and noodles are a weekly meal for the kids. I buy my chicken and ground turkey in bulk and always have baggies of frozen chicken portions and portioned out ground turkey. I always have a variety of canned soups and canned pastas (spaghetti-o’s) when they are on sale and I can match up with coupons. I almost always have at least one can of artichokes, pumpkin and green chiles. Peanut butter of course. And syrup as we eat a lot of french toast and pancakes. I keep several kinds of vinegars, white, balsamic, red wine and apple cider. I always have canned fruit, usually in the big 10# cans that are much cheaper. Plus I keep a steady supply of ritz crackers and pretzels to subside the munchies. That’s just the cupboard items. In the frig, we always have brick colby jack cheese and salad lettuce. We always have ham and turkey lunch meat and a variety of veggies. Always apples on the counter and usually banana’s as well. Those are pretty much the items that are ALWAYS here. Hope this helped. Thanks!


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