Keeping a kitchen pantry is a smart thing to do even in non-quarantine times, but what exactly does that mean? Even if you don’t have a dedicated, stand-alone pantry space, setting aside some cabinet shelves to non-perishable pantry food staples will ensure you’re never far from a quick, easy meal.
If you’re not sure where to start, though, refer to our handy links below. They cover everything from what to stock in your pantry and how to store it, to where to resupply and what to cook with the contents of your larder.
Related Reading: Where to Find Food Assistance During the COVID-19 Crisis
Stocking & Maintaining Your Pantry
First, let’s cover the basics of exactly what to stock, where to get it, and how to keep it all organized.
- How to Stock Your Kitchen Pantry – You can probably rattle off the usual suspects: beans, pasta, rice—but there are some other items you might not think to keep on hand. See how to stock your pantry, plus basic guidelines for making the most of it. (And don’t forget to treat your freezer as an extension of your pantry too!)
- The Best & Worst Canned Foods to Stock, According to Nutritionists – Canned foods are not inherently bad, but some are not as nutritionally sound as others. Hence, we spoke to nutritionists to get their recommendations for the healthiest canned food to keep around (also helpful if you’re thinking about donating to a community food pantry in your area).
- Gourmet Pantry Items Worth a Splurge – In addition to your basic supplies, it’s nice to stock some extra-special pantry items if you can swing it. Here are our favorite gourmet pantry food options to keep on hand for elevated (but still super easy) meals.
- How to Deep Clean & Organize Your Pantry – It’s not too late to do some more spring cleaning, and your pantry should be one of the places you hit. Whether it needs a deep clean or just a little tidying up, here’s how to clean and organize your pantry (with a basic checklist of specific food to stock as well).
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- How to Prevent Pantry Pests – You do NOT want weevils, ants, or even worse critters sneaking into your pantry, so you’ll want to do what you can to make them unwelcome. See how to get rid of pantry bugs, mice, and other pests.
- Where to Buy Pantry Staples Online – If your local store is out of essentials, or you just prefer to shop online, there are lots of great sites that sell pantry staples. Here are some of the best places to buy pantry food and supplies online.
- The Best Flour Substitutes – Say that you still can’t find flour anywhere—here are some of the best flour substitutes to keep in stock (for baking and for cooking).
- A Guide to Different Types of Rice (You’ll Want Several) – Rice is an essential, and it lasts forever, so buy the big bags if you have room to store them. We like to keep at least three or four types on hand (jasmine, sticky, basmati, and brown), but you have a lot of options. See our guide to types of rice, with recipes of course.
- All the Whole Grains You Should Have on Hand – Like rice, whole grains are incredibly versatile, though they won’t last anywhere near as long in the pantry; you can stash them in the freezer to prolong their shelf life. Here’s a cheat sheet for quinoa, barley, buckwheat, and all the other whole grains you should know about (plus how to make them all taste great).
- The Best Salts to Stock Your Pantry & Make Food Shine – You don’t necessarily need to pull a Martha (Stewart stocks 47 types of salt in her pantry!), but keeping a few different kinds besides kosher is a smart move. Here are our picks for the best salts to stock your pantry and make your food taste even more amazing.
- Avoid This Mistake When Storing Potatoes – While most pantry staples are jarred, boxed, canned, bagged, or otherwise packaged, long-lasting veggies like potatoes and onions can be counted among your essential pantry items as well. Store them properly and they’ll last a long time.
- 10 Pantry Organizing Photos to Inspire You to Get Started – In case you need another nudge, check out these pantry organizing photos to get you in gear and inspire great ideas.
- 6 Chefs Let Us Peek Inside Their Pantries – For even more inspo (or just for fun), get a peek inside six chefs’ pantries!
Related Video: ‘Top Chef’ Gail Simmons Shares Her Favorite Pantry Staples
What to Do with Your Pantry Stores
Now that you know what you need and how to keep it all in order, here are a whole lot of delicious ideas on how to use it when you cook.
- 11 Easy Dinners You Can Make with Basic Pantry Staples – Use your pantry stores as building blocks for simple, delicious dinners easy enough for any weeknight. See our favorite easy dinners made with pantry staples.
- The Best Ways to Use All the Beans in Your Pantry – Canned or dried, beans are incredibly versatile—here are some of our favorite ways to cook with them. (See also: how to cook dried beans perfectly every time; a simple trick for the best tasting beans ever; and how to store leftover canned beans.)
- 11 Things to Make with Chickpeas Besides Hummus – Not that homemade hummus isn’t an exceptional thing to make with garbanzo beans, but it’s not the only option. Check out our favorite chickpea recipes besides dip—including dessert!
- A Comprehensive Guide to Canned Tomatoes – Every pantry should have an ample supply of canned tomatoes, but the sheer variety of them can be a bit overwhelming. Here’s a guide to types of canned tomatoes and how best to use them all.
- 9 Coconut Milk Recipes That Prove You Should Always Have a Can on Hand – Canned coconut milk is a must in any pantry, vegan or otherwise, but it’s not just for curries. See some of our favorite coconut milk recipes to make.
- Easy Baking Recipes You Can Make with Pantry Staples – Another benefit of keeping more than beans and rice on hand: You can whip up a sweet treat whenever the urge strikes, without having to go to the store. See some easy baking recipes made with pantry staples. (Also: 11 reasons to keep chocolate chips in your pantry at all times.)
- 15 Sardine Snacks to Make You Love Tinned Fish – Tuna isn’t the only tinned fish in town. Stock sardines and you can make all sorts of delicious snacks and easy meals. Just see our favorite ways to eat canned sardines for proof.
- 12 Tuna Salad Recipes You Never Found in Your Lunchbox – We still love tuna too. Here are our best tuna salad recipe ideas when plain old mayo won’t cut the mustard.
- The Best Ways to Use Peanut Butter Besides Sandwiches – A big jar of peanut butter is full of promise—here are our favorite peanut butter recipes that don’t involve jelly (OK, a couple still do, but they’re not sandwiches).
- 11 DIY Spice Blends to Give Pantry Staples More Pizzazz – A well-stocked spice cabinet is your best friend when it comes to jazzing up basic ingredients. It can even be like a mini grocery store, in that you can combine single seasonings to make homemade spice blends for brand new flavors.
- 9 Things to Do with Ramen Noodles That Aren’t Soup – We love instant ramen, and there are easy ways to upgrade ramen with a few extra ingredients, but you can also use ramen noodles in unexpected ways when you’re sick of soup.
- Easy Pantry Pasta Recipes You Don’t Have to Shop For – Pasta is pantry foodstuff 101, and you can use other shelf-stable all-stars to turn it into a super simple meal when the fridge is bare. Check out our favorite pantry pasta recipes.
- An Easy Weeknight Chicken Puttanesca That’s Ready in 45 Minutes – This one-pot dinner is simply delicious. Get the easy one-pan chicken puttanesca recipe.
- A Surprising Pantry Ingredient Stars in This Scramble When You’re Out of Eggs – As egg substitutes go, this one might be unexpected, but it makes a delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Get the vegan scramble recipe.
- This Pasta alla Vodka Turns Tomato Paste into a Superstar – Canned tomatoes’ concentrated cousin, tomato paste, definitely needs to be kept in your pantry too. This easy pasta alla vodka recipe is just one great reason why.
- These Easy Artichoke Fritters Are a Fun New Way to Use Pantry Staples – Artichoke hearts aren’t just for antipasti plates. This easy artichoke fritter recipe is a great way to give new life to a handful of pantry food stores.
- The Pantry-Friendly Potato Pancake Recipe Our Executive Editor Relies On – This gamja jeon (Korean potato pancake) recipe from our executive editor Hana Asbrink is an incredibly easy and delicious way to use the fresh, long-storing veggies in your larder. Plus, you can probably make a dipping sauce from other items in your pantry!
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