What Pantry Staples to Buy

Confused on what you should have on hand in your pantry right now? We’ve got you covered with pantry staples.

Confused on what you should have on hand in your pantry right now? We've got you covered with pantry staples.

There’s no way around it, we’re living in a different period of time. 

Businesses are shutting down, events are cancelled, cruise ships to be docked, and the entire world to come to a screeching halt in just the last few days. 

But life has to go on, right? You still have to eat. 

What should you be buying in preparation for what could be a few weeks or more? 

In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at what people are buying to prepare for the coming weeks, and making some recommendations of our own. 

What are People Buying Right Now?

According to some market research, there are four main areas in which people are stocking up. 

  1. Shelf-Stable Foods, such as pasta, dry beans, and other canned goods. 
  2. Bottled Water/Energy Drinks
  3. Pretzels and Fruit Snacks
  4. Frozen Foods

You can’t go wrong with the pasta, dry beans, canned goods route. These are non-perishable items that you can store for the long haul, if needed. 

As for bottled water, that’s a no-brainer. Water is an essential part of human life, and no one really drinks tap water anymore. Making sure you have bottled water handy is going to be important. 

As for energy drinks? Sometimes you need a pick me up and not everyone is a coffee drinker. 

Snacks are clutch and make for an easier time hunkering down. Take comfort in your comfort food. Pretzels and fruit snacks are especially good because they last a really long time and don’t have to take up space in your refrigerator. 

As for frozen foods, yessss. 

The best way to preserve food for the long haul is to freeze it. Whether you’re buying frozen bags of ingredients, freezing fresh meat, or buying pre-packaged frozen meals, you freezer should be full. 

What Should You Stock Up On?

In the last section, we touched briefly on what people are buying in stores right now. But we’re here to expand a bit on that list and zero in on some specifics. 

Here are some of the top foods we think you should have on hand for the weeks ahead. 

Canned Beans and Tomatoes

Canned beans are a perfect side dish. Pair it with some rice and you have a nice protein-rich, meatless meal (check out this Black Bean Soup and this Costa Rican rice and beans dish called Gallo Pinto, for example). 


As for tomatoes – chopped, crushed, pureed, or even whole canned tomatoes can be an ingredient in everything from chili to pasta sauce. 

Of course, it’s recommended that you buy them canned, and not from the produce section. 


Fresh ripe tomatoes will eventually go bad. Canned tomatoes can stand the test of time. 

Rice and Pasta

Throw that low-carb diet out the window for the duration. Carbs like rice and pasta are some of the easiest staples of the kitchen to make when times are tough. 

Rice and pasta can be the difference between a snack and a meal. Stock up on these and use them well! 

If your store is running low on these things, try some alternatives like farro, quinoa, and barley. Look for canned potatoes too! They’re actually surprisingly good roasted, just pat them dry and then give them a good douse of oil before putting them into a hot oven to brown.

Learn how to make farro using three different methods, stove-top, oven and slow cooker.

Canned Fish and Canned Meat

Canned fish can be used for a lot more than sandwiches.

You can turn a can of tuna into a casserole, you can mix it with pasta or rice. You can even add some bread and cheese and pop it in the oven to make a tuna melt. 

One of my favorite pasta dishes is to mix canned salmon with sour cream or cream cheese, warm it lightly in the microwave, and then toss it with hot pasta.


If you’re a carnivore, you’re gonna want your meat. But meat goes bad quickly. 

Freeze it! 

Get a bunch of chicken breasts or some steaks, cook up with you need, and then freeze the rest to have later. 

If your grocery store is out of your usual everyday meats like chicken breasts and ground beef, look for other things to try. If you’re going to be home during the day, you’ll have more time for doing big roasts and braises. The best part of these bigger cuts of meat is that there’s enough for dinner, leftovers for tomorrow’s dinner, and meat for sandwiches or burritos or all kinds of things after that (right now I’m contemplating some chopped roasted pork in a skillet with those above-mentioned canned potatoes. Yes!).

Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and veggies are an important part of a balanced diet. The only issue is that they tend to go bad quickly. 

That’s why, when stocking up for a quarantine, load up on frozen vegetables and fruits. 

They won’t go bad and they’re easy to prepare. You can use frozen fruits in a smoothie. They also have frozen vegetables that you can microwave and steam in the bag. 

Canned fruits and veggies are fine too. I just prefer the frozen versions because they tend to be frozen right at picking and aren’t as mushy as canned. Whatever you like best and whatever your store has is what you should get.


You can’t go wrong with soup. It’s a simple staple of the American diet. 

Try to get a variety of soup, but most notably chicken noodle or broth-based soups. 

You could also get some chicken, beef, or vegetable broth to make soups yourself. Bouillon cubes work for this also. 

If you want to make your own soups, here are our favorite 15 minute soup recipes, including a very delicious Chicken Noodle!

Lickety Split Chicken Noodle Soup

Root Vegetables

If you’re buying fresh produce, consider root vegetables like carrots, beets, and potatoes. They are good for you and they last a lot longer than something like lettuce. 

Carrot sticks could also be a great healthy snack. Garlic and onions can promote a healthy immune system as well, which is needed right about now. 

Ramen Noodles

Relive your college days! 

Ramen noodles are yummy, they’re cheap, they’re easy to make, and they’re non-perishable. 

It’s easy and inexpensive to stock up on Ramen. Just get a few different flavors so that you don’t get sick of it too fast. 

It makes a great substitute for traditional pasta if your store happens to be out. And you don’t just need to eat them as directed on the packet. I love cooking the noodles, draining them, and adding diced ham and defrosted peas. Or, I leave that hot broth in there and crack an egg in, stir it gently until it cooks. So good! Let your imagination go wild! 


It’s never a good idea to skip breakfast. Oatmeal is always a good go-to. Not only is it nonperishable, but it doesn’t need milk. You can make it with water and BOOM, instant breakfast.  Of course, cereal can be eaten both with milk or dry. Sometimes, dry cereal can be a great snack. 

Shelf-Stable Milk/Milk Substitutes

A lot of recipes need milk. By purchasing shelf-stable milk or a milk substitute like powdered milk, you can ensure that you’re not missing out on some of your favorite dishes once the expiration date on your milk carton flies by. 

You can also buy a large container of heavy whipping cream. Drizzle it into pasta sauces, soups, or gravies for richness. Or thin it down to use as a milk substitute. I have a pint of cream in my fridge right now and the sell-by date is May 20. It’s going to get a few different uses between now and then for sure! Oh, and if you start to worry that it could be going bad, use it in your morning tea or coffee for an extra rich start to your day!

Sliced Bread

You’re going to want to have some bread handy for sandwiches and simple quick items like that. But, why stock up on something that goes bad so quickly? 

You can put your extra bread in the freezer and keep it there until you’re ready for it. 

If you’re a baker, or if you want to try something new while stuck at home, get flour and yeast. You can make loaf after loaf of bread whenever you need it! Do try these homemade English muffins too. Oh my!

Homemade English Muffins

Nuts and Peanut Butter

Nuts are a great snack and a surefire source of protein. 

Peanut butter is another great pantry staple that you’ll get a lot of shelf life out of. Consider getting some creamy and chunky peanut butter so that you don’t get sick of it. 

In Conclusion

Just because you’re quarantined doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy some stellar meals. Stock up on these suggested items and relax. We’ll keep bringing you ideas of what to cook with these pantry staples in the days ahead. Head over here daily to see what’s new.

What Pantry Staples to Buy
What Pantry Staples to Buy

Kevin Kessler

Kevin J. Kessler is an experienced professional writer and published author living in Orlando, Florida. With a lifelong passion for food, this sandwich loving Italian boy enjoys exploring unanswered questions about the foods we all know and love so well. Kevin’s foodie lifestyle was born through his love of Walt Disney World and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. A lover of stories, he enjoys trying new dishes from all over the world and learning everything there is to know about where food comes from, how its prepared, and what variations on it exist.