If you really think about what meals we all prepare, the pantry needs these simple items I will list below. I want to make this really easy for anyone wanting to know how to get started with food storage. I bet most of these items are in your pantry already. You may even have some that I do not have in my pantry. I tend to buy enough canned food for a family of eight when there is only two living here right now.
I was raised by a mother that made sure we always had extra food for anyone who might stop by to visit our family. There’s always food for one more, right? Please remember, you do not have to buy #10 cans. Buy what you eat and eat what you buy.
Simple Pantry Needs:
- 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. Here is how I make French Bread In One Hour by Food Storage Moms. You can make muffins, pancakes, waffles, cookies, cakes and so much more with flour of any kind.
- 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 the amount of yeast I will use for a month in the refrigerator. The rest of the packages I store in my freezer. They have lasted three years 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 a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. I make homemade whole wheat bread which is a bonus for my budget.
- 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? Man, I can’t wait to make some hot cocoa from scratch this fall. Here’s my recipe:
Grandma’s Hot Chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dutch cocoa, or any dry cocoa
2/3 cup water
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
whipped cream (optional)
peppermint bark (optional), place a small piece in the bottom of each cup and pour warm hot chocolate over the peppermint bark if desired.
Place the sugar and cocoa in a saucepan and blend the mixture. Add the water and stir until blended. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir constantly for two minutes. Add the milk slowly and heat thoroughly, but do not boil. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
- Garlic: now you can buy a HUGE jar like my daughter, Heidi and store it in the refrigerator, buy some fresh garlic or buy it like I do from North Bay Trading Company. It’s 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 with 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.
- Olive oil/Coconut Oil: we can make so many things with oil. I just added it to the list because we know we need some.
- 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: its all about flavor.
- Sugar: I have to have sugar to make my bread, cookies, cakes and to put on certain cereals.
- Honey: you can make bread with honey, peanut butter with honey sandwiches, make 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 to make my biscuits and play dough for kids.
- Canned meats: if you can your own that’s awesome! I buy mine at Costco. I like the 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 rice or quinoa.
- Dehydrated carrots and celery are always in my pantry. I can throw them in soups and stews.
- Salsa and green chilies: I can eat these on everything, just saying.
- Water: store as much as your budget allows. We need water to survive and to make most meals out of our pantry stash.
Please tell me your pantry needs that I should add to my list. Thanks so much!