Pantry-o-plenty: Your stock-up plan

animated image of campbell's chicken noodle soup can

Social distancing policy has certainly changed our dining behavior—pointing many back to the kitchen table for home-cooked meals. This requires keeping a well-stocked pantry of staple goods. Use our list of pantry must-haves to help you stock up for a month at a time (and avoid frequent trips out to the grocery store). Also, make sure to look up a few of your favorite recipes and add required items to the list.

Dried or canned beans

Fill your cart with at least a dozen cans of beans, such as black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans. These items are standard in making bean salads, chili or vegetable quesadillas. Dried beans require only an overnight soak and can be used for everything from puréed dips to soups or stews.

Rice and whole grains

Consider some favorites like quinoa, farro, barley, wheat berries and bulgur. These grains can be cooked in bulk and used throughout the week in salads and soups. Identify two or three varieties that your family likes and purchase in bulk boxes or bags.

Garlic and onions

Aromatics like onions, garlic, ginger and chilies add flavor and can last a long time in your fridge or in a cool pantry spot. Do not store these goods in plastic bags or they may get moldy.

Root vegetables and other pantry-safe veggies

In addition to buying frozen veggies, stock up on potatoes, carrots, winter squash, heads of cabbage, celery, brussels sprouts and other sturdy vegetables that keep well. Purchase enough to last you two or three weeks and alternate with frozen veggies to mix things up.

Stocks and broths

Buy six cans or cartons of broth or buy space-saving bouillon pastes or cubes. Use these items to make soups and stews or as a flavor booster for sauces or when you are cooking grains.

Canned fish and chicken

Alternative proteins like canned fish and chicken can add variety to sandwich offerings and also be used in dishes when you don’t have any fresh meat options. Pick up 6 to 8 cans to keep in stock.

Canned vegetables

Stock up on canned veggies that are nutritional and provide a vitamin boost, such as corn, peas, green beans, artichokes, beets and tomatoes. Mix and match 12 (or more) of your family’s favorites to keep on hand.

Canned soup

Canned soups are an easy choice for those nights you just don’t feel like cooking a bigger meal. Buy a variety of flavors to keep on hand.

Pasta sauce

A jar of pasta sauce and pasta makes for a yummy and easy meal. You can also add chicken stock and chopped vegetables to make a minestrone or add to cooked rice for a rich side dish.


Keep a few boxes of whole grain crackers on hand to go with soup, cheese or just for a quick snack.

Healthier snack options

Because there is likely to be higher demand for snacks in your household, make sure you stock up on good-for-you items like pretzels, grain-based crackers and popcorn. If you want sweets, think about purchasing dried fruit, canned fruit and dark chocolate.

Baking supplies

If you like to bake, make sure you add all-purpose and bread flours, baking powder, baking soda and packaged yeast to your grocery list. And don’t forget sugar, dried fruit and chocolate chips in case you want to make muffins or cookies.

Cooking oil and condiments

If your family likes mayonnaise, mustard, relish, ketchup and other condiments, make sure you stock up on these items—as well as any spices you may need.

Nuts and nut butters

Having a variety of nuts in your pantry helps add a crunchy twist to your favorite salad, pasta and curry recipes. Plus, they are great for healthy snacking. Peanut butter and other nut butters are great for toast and sandwiches as well.

Boxed milk

Shelf-stable milk (whether true dairy or plant-based) is a good item to have on hand to replace regular milk altogether or as a substitute in a pinch. You may also want to keep canned evaporated milk on hand.

Coffee and tea

If you crave a cup (or more) of coffee or tea every day, add these staples in bulk to your pantry stock-up list.

Follow our list and your cart and your pantry will be full of everything you need to make delicious meals at home—and can sustain you for about a month (depending on the size of your household). Add fresh fruits and veggies, bread, meat or meat substitutes, and cheese to further prepare for robust home-cooked meals.

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