What You Need In Your Food Pantry

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Have you often wondered what you need in your food pantry? Sometimes it’s hard to get started. It can be overwhelming sometimes, I know. This is one question people ask me whenever I’m asked to speak on food storage or how to stock a pantry. I’m really lucky because my mom taught me how to stock a food pantry. Her example also taught me how to cook from scratch.

I remember years ago thinking, what can I fix for dinner tonight? Breakfast is easy, lunch is a snap. But dinner takes a little more thought regarding how to pull everything together. My husband and I purchase ready-made salads every 10 days. That’s how long the salads last, according to the packaging.

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Now, you may wonder why am I buying salads when I can make salads. Here’s the deal, in the summer when my garden is growing fabulous vegetables I can make my own salads. But in the winter I calculated the price of these bagged salads with the dressing, nuts, etc. you add before serving, it’s cheaper than if I bought all the stuff separately.

Plus, there is no waste. The restaurants all serve chopped salads in a bag, so I thought, why not? Unless you are eating at a 5-star restaurant they are serving bagged salads because they are a time saver. I watch for them to go on sale, and life is good at dinner time with less time and money spent to prepare meals.

I can make something from my pantry to go with a fresh salad and dinner is ready in no time. Let’s get started, so you know what you need in your pantry.

What You Need in Your Food Pantry:

  1. Beans
  2. Rice
  3. Soups
  4. White bread flour
  5. Yeast
  6. Crackers
  7. Peanut butter
  8. Jams and jelly
  9. Powdered eggs
  10. Instant milk
  11. Popcorn
  12. Dehydrated onions
  13. Lemons juice
  14. Cocoa
  15. Garlic
  16. Raisins
  17. Spices
  18. Tortillas
  19. Chicken broth
  20. Olive oil/Coconut oil
  21. Dehydrated or fresh potatoes
  22. Pasta: who loves spaghetti?
  23. Tomato paste or flakes
  24. Salt
  25. Sugar
  26. Honey
  27. Baking soda
  28. Baking powder
  29. Cream of tartar
  30. Canned meat
  31. Wheat
  32. Dehydrated carrots & celery
  33. Salsa and green chilies
  34. Water
  35. Fruit
  36. Vegetables
  37. Oatmeal
  38. Cornstarch

What You Need In Your Pantry:

Beans:

You can buy dried beans in a bag or purchase ready to use canned beans. You can make soups, hummus, side dishes, or chili, and you have a great protein at the same time. I can make a meal with beans and my favorite spices then add some tortillas and salsa.

Rice:

White rice has a longer shelf life than brown rice so I store very little brown rice. I can use rice to stretch so many frugal meals, love it! It’s fairly inexpensive, even in smaller bags. I like to buy white rice in #10 cans, the shelf life is 30 years (unopened) because it is commercially packed compared to the bagged rice from supermarkets.

I prefer not to use mylar bags. I only want to buy food storage once with zero waste. Brown rice lasts about 6 months from the grocery store because it has a higher fat content over white rice. You can store brown rice in the refrigerator for 2-3 months longer if kept in an airtight container.

Soups:

Some people make their own creamed soup from scratch. I buy Campbell’s cream of chicken by the case. I can make just about any casserole or soup with it. I watch for the case lot sales in the fall. Be sure and check the expiration dates.

White Bread Flour:

If you can make bread you can barter and survive. Trust me, people love hot bread right out of the oven. You can make muffins, pancakes, waffles, cookies, cakes and so much more with flour of any kind. Please remember, if you buy 25-50 pound bags as I do, it is only good for 12-18 months. Please be safe, mold spores can develop in flour. Be safe, not sorry.

Yeast:

I purchase the brand SAF Yeast for my bread and biscuits. Period. I have not had good luck with other yeast brands. I store in the refrigerator the amount of yeast I will use for a month. The rest of the packages I store in my freezer. They have lasted three years or more for me in the freezer if unopened. If you can’t find it where you live, you can buy it online: Saf Instant Yeast, 1 Pound Pouch

Crackers:

Need I say more. Crackers are great with chili, soups and topped with your favorite chicken salad made with mayonnaise.

Peanut butter:

Sometimes my husband and I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. I make homemade whole wheat bread which is a bonus for my budget.

Jams and jelly:

We can use them for sandwiches, biscuits, rolls, and bread.

Powdered eggs:

For baking only, it’s nice to have a can of powdered eggs in the pantry if you run out of eggs. Of course, fresh eggs are better, but if you have an ice storm you can still make cookies and stay off the icy roads if your egg cartons are empty.

Instant milk:

This is a bonus for every family. I store my opened #10 can of instant milk in the refrigerator so it’s ready in a flash if I run out of milk. It’s good for two years opened. Check the date on the milk you buy because every manufacturer is different.

Popcorn:

Popcorn is a great tummy filler and comfort food in a bad storm. Add some melted butter to popped corn with a smidge of salt and you have a great treat for everyone! You can add other spices as well and flavor the popcorn to your preference.

Dehydrated onions:

I personally rarely buy fresh onions, except maybe in the summer if my garden hasn’t produced enough yet. I love knowing I can add a scoop of dehydrated onions to taco meat, soups, chili, casseroles, omelets and not have to peel, cut or chop them. Love it!

Lemon juice:

I do buy lemon juice for the refrigerator, but I also buy these packets I use every day and for emergencies: True Lemon Bulk Pack, 500 Count

Cocoa:

Can you smell the chocolate cake baking or relish the taste of hot chocolate right now?

Garlic:

Now you can buy a HUGE jar of garlic like my daughter, Heidi and store it in the refrigerator. Buy some fresh garlic or buy air-dried minced garlic and it is so awesome! I love that I can store it in my pantry, no refrigeration necessary.

Raisins:

These are great for snacks, muffins, bread pudding, etc.

Spices:

Be sure and keep your pantry full of your favorite spices. I can’t get by without vanilla, chili powder, and cinnamon. You know the ones you need, right?

Tortillas:

I can make my own tortillas with the stuff on this list, except my corn tortillas. Keep a few tortillas on your pantry shelves (check the expiration dates) and a few in the freezer. If you feel so inclined, learn to make tortillas. They taste yummy and fresh!

Chicken broth:

If I have some leftover from cooking a chicken I will freeze it, but I prefer to use: Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base 8 oz. Of course, you will need water. If I see a good buy on canned or boxed chicken broth I will pick up a few for the pantry. You can always boil a carcass too.

Olive Oil/Coconut Oil:

We can make so many things with oil. We need it for cooking and baking.

Dehydrated or Fresh Potatoes:

We can mash, fry or bake potatoes. I love dehydrated potatoes to add to soups and chowders, no peeling, chopping or dicing. I can add them right from the can to my soups.

Pasta:

Who loves spaghetti? Oh, and mac and cheese. Everyone needs pasta in a pantry, right?

Tomato paste or flakes:

You can make soups, spaghetti, chili, stews, etc.

Salt:

It’s all about flavor and using it for baking.

Sugar:

I have to have sugar to make my white bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies, cakes, and to put on certain cereals.

Honey:

You can make bread with honey, peanut butter with honey sandwiches,  cookies, and all kinds of other baked goods. I only buy honey from Cox’s Honey because it’s pure, raw honey. Honey is a natural food and is so good for you. Give it a try in place of sugar next time.

Baking soda:

I need it for baking muffins, cookies, etc.

Baking powder:

I need it for baking, muffins, biscuits, etc.

Cream of Tartar:

I know this is a spice, but I need it to make my biscuits and play dough for kids.

Canned Meats:

If you pressure can your own that’s awesome! I buy mine at Costco. I like chicken and tuna with water. I stock up big time when they go on sale.

Wheat:

If you can grind wheat and make bread that is awesome. You can also make hot cereal with just the wheat and water to make a wholesome meal. Here is how I make hot whole wheat cereal: 1 cup washed whole wheat berries, 3 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional), place all the ingredients in a slow cooker at night for 12 hours and you will have hot cereal in the morning. Drain off excess water and store unused wheat in the refrigerator. Add a little milk and honey when serving, if desired. You can double or triple the recipe if your slow cooker will hold it. You can add the cooked wheat to many meals, as you do with rice or quinoa.

Dehydrated Carrots and Celery:

These are always in my food pantry. I can throw them in soups and stews.

Salsa and Green Chilies:

I can eat salsa on just about everything, just saying. Plus, green chilies are good in casseroles.

Water:

Store as much as your budget allows. We need water to survive and to make most meals out of our food pantry stash.

Fruit:

Cans of fruit, freeze-dried fruit (longer shelf life) or dehydrate your own for a shorter shelf-life option.

Vegetables:

Store canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated.

Oatmeal:

Typically lasts about 2-3 years depending on the type you buy, whether it’s steel cut, old-fashioned or instant (quick). Always store these in airtight containers in a cool dark place.

Cornstarch:

We can always use a thickener, right?

Final Word

Please start stalking your food pantry today, one can at a time. You can do it, I promise. If you follow my recipes you can learn to cook from scratch. It’s easier than you may think. If you were lucky enough to have had someone teach you to cook from scratch, please pass on that awesome skill to friends and family. May God bless this world. Linda

Food Storage by Linda

Utah State University Extension Canning

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15 thoughts on “What You Need In Your Food Pantry

  • February 11, 2019 at 9:44 am
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    Great list Linda,
    However, my wife is allergic to wheat, yeast and chicken eggs. This severely limits our purchases of many of the things on the list. We can find wheat free items but many are baked with yeast and chicken eggs. So, we have to be careful there. For fresh baking, we can find wheat free flour and duck eggs. Luckily the yeast allergy is the least bothersome, so she can tolerate that in moderation. However, this certainly alters what we can store for a crisis. I know there are quite a few folks who are gluten intolerant, so perhaps sometime you could query the experts and come up with a list for those who need gluten free food. Just a thought. Thanks for listening to me.

    Reply
    • February 11, 2019 at 10:09 am
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      Hi Harry, oh my gosh I love your comment! I know you and your wife are not the only ones allergic to these items. Great comment, I need to work on a list for you!! Great idea!! Linda

      Reply
  • February 11, 2019 at 10:19 am
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    Linda ~ Love your post.
    I need to relate an interesting story:
    We are in a pretty major snow storm here in the Pacific Northwest. Since it started, we have had (per my measurements) over a foot of snow. For the west side of the state of Washington, that is a MAJOR storm. And we have had wind up to 16 mph along with it. SO, before all of this hit, I went to the store and stocked up on a few things that I wanted – mainly popcorn! (a girl has got to have her snacks!). Anyway, I don’t eat much bread but I decided to make a loaf of bread for, well, you know, to eat!! One of the ladies here in my apartment complex (and we are all over 62 years of age) asked where I found room for my bread machine. I asked her that, “what bread machine?” I told her that I made bread pretty much in the same fashion as my mother and grandmother did, with plain ol’ arm muscles. No Kitchenaide mixer either!!

    Last night, because I have chicken broth in my cupboard, and fresh veggies in the fridge, I made home made chicken noodle soup. I even made my own noodles, ’cause why bother with home made soup if it has store bought noodles?? Of course, my noodles are more like dumplings because I like them fat and chunky.

    Also, because of the storm that we are in the midst of, it was predicted that we could lose power and that if we did, it likely would not be back on for days. I live very near a major hospital and that generally means that our power is back on pretty fast but not always. I explained to several residents that they need to make sure they have water, and plenty of it in the event the pipes freeze; plenty of food that does not require cooking. One lady, I am very pleased to say, is going to get a butane stove to have for the future (when she can get out to the stores).

    Not many people here are prepared enough for this kind of storm that lasts over a week. Most have, at best, 3-4 days worth of food in their cupboards (we don’t have pantries) !! I am at a point where I have talked to people here until I am blue in the face and I am not feeling very sorry for them anymore. If they will not take this advise, they will suffer and I cannot help them.

    Sorry for the rant, Linda, but this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I mean, if we lost power, I would still be able to cook, have hot coffee/tea/hot cocoa. I would/will not let someone go hungry if I have enough to share but, they are only going to get the basics: soup and bread or a stove top casserole.

    It will be a heavy shopping trip for me when this storm is over. I can see the shelf! I was taught by my mother that if I can see the shelf, I don’t have enough. She lived through the Depression and it was panic mode if the shelves started getting bare.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    • February 11, 2019 at 10:45 am
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      Hi Leanne, oh my gosh I love your comment! I love your statement “If I can see the shelf, I don’t have enough”!!!!!! I LOVE this!! I totally understand the rant, although it didn’t seem like a rant to me, girlfriend! You and I have tried to teach people and they either get it or they don’t. I have to take care of Mark and myself, I can’t feed the neighborhood. I sure hope some of my neighbors get their act together! We can only do so much and they have to hurt to understand. It’s called tough love. I have always believed in tough love. God bless you for trying to teach others! Stay safe and stay warm! Linda

      Reply
  • February 11, 2019 at 10:52 am
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    Yes I too have been eating gluten/wheat free for over ten years and I would be very sick eating much on this list, especially wheat which actually Dr. Tom O’Bryan says 8 to 9 out of 10 people cannot tolerate. Most just are not aware of this or that wheat is actually a mild toxin. I’ve been learning from him for about 9 years. I do have a pantry list on my blog after shopping, cooking and eating gluten/wheat free for ten years. Corn causes me serious joint pain too when I eat it for too long. I stop eating it and the pain is gone. A lot of gfree packaged stuff contains corn so personally I have to be careful of binging too long on it. I use arrowroot or gfree flour for thickening gravies, etc. I cook mostly from scratch and use a lot of onions, fresh garlic, fresh herbs from our garden and spices in my cooking so everything is very tasty. In fact, everyone who eats my food when I bring it to pot lucks at our church loves it. I often have to set some back to be sure the people who are also gfree get some! I often wonder about stocking up like you’re talking about because there are so many people with wheat and food allergies and Dr. O’Bryan explains why in his lectures. Feel free to Google him to find out more plus he does a lot of research in this area. Guess we would need to learn to Forage for food. Always appreciate your input Linda!! Be well all!

    Reply
    • February 11, 2019 at 12:11 pm
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      I have been laying low on the carbohydrates for the last 3 years: bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, etc. This storm I did make bread and noodles but for the most part, I try to stay low carb. And those carbs I do eat on a regular basis typically come from fruit and veggies. I think that I was wanting “comfort” food for this storm we are in the midst of so the bread and noodles.

      When I was growing up, we ate primarily meat and veggies. We did eat bread and carby vegetables but it was mostly meat and veggies with those things thrown in occasionally. I think that Dad ate most of the bread (well and my brother probably ate most of the bread) but basically we could survive without bread. They say it is the “staff of life” but if one is allergic to those things, not at all!

      Stay healthy.

      Reply
      • February 11, 2019 at 12:38 pm
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        Yes according to Dr. Tom O’Bryan and other experts in this area wheat is toxin for the gut and not just for people like myself, it is for most, they just don’t know it. But it is a cheap filler and quite addicting. It always was for me before I changed my diet. Now I cannot even stand the smell of the bread isle at the store. We can always do canning of veggies!! I bet Linda does a ton of that with her garden goodies!! 🙂

        Reply
        • February 11, 2019 at 4:49 pm
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          Hi Sue, yes we can pressure can so many vegetables, life is good. Linda

          Reply
    • February 11, 2019 at 12:28 pm
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      Hi Sue, great comment today!! Thank you! I store most gluten-free food because I have cases of freeze-dried fruits and vegetables and not just a little. I hope people realize so many foods are gluten-free because they are just fruits and vegetables and the meats I buy are just that, only meat with no additives. I do not purchase meals in my food storage. There are so many foods available for people with gluten issues. Whole foods and meats with zero additives. I’m glad you have found a solution to your gluten issues. Linda

      Reply
      • February 11, 2019 at 12:39 pm
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        Yes!!! For sure girl! I Will check out your articles on this! Thanks again! Blessings!!

        Reply
  • February 11, 2019 at 2:14 pm
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    Wonderful list, Linda. I love dehydrated onions for cooking. I would buy them, even if I didn’t buy anything else.

    Reply
    • February 11, 2019 at 4:50 pm
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      Hi Janet, I love dehydrated onions, I’m with you we need them!!! Linda

      Reply
  • February 11, 2019 at 2:50 pm
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    Hi Linda,
    I too am in the PNW and we are on our 4th snow storm and the entire region is shut down. I always keep a well-stocked pantry then you just need to fill in here and there. By the way, the stores ran out of supplies here and getting them in to replace what was sold may be difficult. Lines to buy groceries wrapped around the store. We are snug and doing well with our pantry supplies.

    Reply
    • February 11, 2019 at 4:54 pm
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      HI Gayle, I really admire YOU for being prepared for this crazy weather. I know snow is crazy this year! We need the moisture but oh my goodness, we are being slammed in areas who are not prepared for snow. Thanks for letting me know the stores ran out of supplies. You know people think we prep for a grid down, yes we do but we need it for things like 500-year rain storms or snow like you have been getting. It’s a great feeling to be “snug” and doing well with your pantry supplies. You are my hero for doing what you know is right! It’s called being prepared! Linda

      Reply

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