14 American Staple Foods That Should Be In Your Pantry

Keeping your kitchen pantry well-stocked with non-perishable and everyday staple foods is always a good idea. And it can be especially advantageous during the winter months or when every penny starts to count in the budget. But even in the best of times, staple foods can make your meal preparation easier by providing a foundation for a variety of meals. With that being said, what staple foods should be kept in your pantry?

Here is a list of staple foods that should be kept in the pantry:

  1. Canned Tuna
  2. Nut Butters
  3. Grain Bread
  4. Nutrition Bars
  5. Cereal
  6. Dark Chocolate
  7. Oats
  8. Olive Oil
  9. Pasta Sauce
  10. Soup
  11. Mac & Cheese
  12. Coconut Oil
  13. Salsa
  14. Pasta
  15. Dried Fruits & Nuts

With the above-mentioned foods, you can make several meals--and many within minutes. Even if you have a smaller pantry, you can stock up with a few of these essential foods without taking up too much space. Let's take a closer look at these foods and how they can be used!

Organised pantry items, 14 American Staple Foods That Should Be In Your Pantry

14 Staple Foods To Keep In Your Pantry

Pantry shelves filled with groceries

You never know when an emergency will necessitate you staying home for days or weeks at a time. Things such as brutal snowstorms, health pandemics, or food shortages can mean days or even weeks in the house without making a trip to the grocery store. But the good news is that you don't need to go out or even spend hundreds of dollars at the grocery store to stock your kitchen pantry with these food items.

You can simply start with the basics and expand your pantry staples over time or as you build your meal repertoire. As you begin to prepare more meals, you'll find that it's much easier to make a quick meal from scratch using the foods that you have on hand.

1. Canned Tuna

Keeping a handful of tuna cans in your pantry for a cheap and quick source of protein, minerals, and vitamins can make life easy. Tuna, mackerel, sardines, and oysters are all great sources of omega threes and can be easily be combined with crackers or tossed between a couple of slices of bread for a tuna melt.

You can also toss it in a bowl with a bit of sandwich spread to make a tuna salad. It is advisable that if you consume more than 25 grams of fish a day that you ensure that it's from BPA-free cans.

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2. Nut Butters

Another great source of healthy fats is nut butter. Over the past five to seven years, there has been a significant increase in the types and number of nut butter options available on the market. They include peanut, almond, cashew, pistachio, and pecan nut butter.

Nut butter is packed with protein which can be beneficial if you are looking to build muscle. Nut butter can be used as a sandwich spread, fruit topping, or as an ingredient in your favorite dessert.

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3. Grain Bread

Since the beginning of time, grain bread has been a staple food in societies all over the world. Popular grain bread includes rye, whole wheat, millet, oat, and barley bread. Your average slice of bread will only contain about 80 calories, making it a great low-calorie snack option when combined with a slice or two of meat. Grain bread is also a great source of fiber, typically containing about 5 grams per slice.

4.  Nutrition Bars

Nutritional bars are another stable to keep in your pantry. Not only are these bars satiating, but they can be the perfect snack to grab on the go. If you're someone who has a daily sweet tooth, ditch the candy and grab one of these fiber-filled bars to help satisfy it throughout the week.

Click here to see this on Amazon.

5. Cereal

Cereal will always be a staple item in most American households. One of the most inexpensive breakfast options, it can be fortified with several vitamins and minerals to add nutritional value. You can also sprinkle cereal in your yogurt or oatmeal to add a bit of texture to your morning breakfast.

6. Dark Chocolate

If you are someone who loves baking goods, keeping dark chocolate on hand is an absolute must. You can sprinkle it in your cookies, yogurt, and even use it to make s'mores. You can also use it to make simple recipes such as homemade Reese's cups, non-bake brownies, and chocolate bars. Dark chocolate, unlike milk chocolate, is full of antioxidants and fiber, making it a perfect addition to your daily nutritional goals.

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7. Oats

Oats can be used to make several baked dishes and dinner meals. You can also have instant oats for breakfast or pour them into a morning smoothie with fruit and milk. Or, if you love creating your own baked snacks, you can make your own oatmeal bars and combine them with granola, nuts, and fruit preservative.

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8. Olive Oil

A quality bottle of olive oil can be one of the most important items in your cooking repertoire. Not only does it contain healthy fats, but it can be used to prepare meat, sauteed vegetables, and it can be poured over salad with vinegar for a quick dressing.

Click here to see this oil on Amazon. 

9. Canned Soup

If you're someone who has a busy lifestyle or prefers not to touch the stove at all, soup can become your lifeline. You can simply toss it in a bowl and then in the microwave for 2 minutes.

Click here to see this soup on Amazon. 

10. Mac & Cheese

Mac & cheese will always be an American favorite, and the fact that you can buy it in a box makes it even more admirable. If you're looking for a quick meal that's filling and tasty, keep a few boxes of mac & cheese on deck.

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11. Coconut Oil

Whether it's cold or expeller-pressed, organic coconut oil can be a healthy alternative to your everyday cooking oil. It can also be a great go-to oil for several baking recipes.

Click here to see this coconut oil on Amazon!.

12. Salsa

If you are someone who loves to snack, consider keeping a jar or two of salsa and a bag of tortilla chips on hand. Not only can you avoid the oven and the microwave, but you get a tasty snack that is on the healthier side.

Click here to see this salsa on Amazon.

13. Pasta

Whether you're whipping up a last-minute dinner or putting together a pasta salad for the workday, pasta is another one of those easy grab-and-go staples. It's super-filling and it's really cheap.

Click here to see this pasta on Amazon.

14. Dried Fruits & Nuts

Nuts are another cheap snack that you can keep in your pantry. Whether you use them to snack on the go or add them to your yogurt, this staple will always be a great pick.

Click here to see this set on Amazon.

What every baker should have in their pantry?

Organised pantry items on white pantry shelves

There are several items that most bakers typically keep in their arsenal. Let's take a look at some of them.

Flavored Extracts

These concentrated flavoring ingredients can be used to make several baked dishes including cakes, pies, and cookies. You'll be happy to know that they also last for very long periods of time.

Baking Powder

Baking powder is used to help baked goods rise during the cooking process. Keeping it in your pantry will ensure that all of your baked goods are moist and fluffy.


Salt is essential to any baker's dish repertoire. It can greatly enhance the flavor of your dishes as well as accentuate other flavors in your cookies and pies.


Butter can give your baked goods the fat that they need to create unique flavors. Be careful to watch the expiration on your butter.

Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils are another staple to keep in your baking pantry. These oils contain the fat content necessary to add a crumbly moistness to your baked goods. Common oils to use include olive, coconut, and grapeseed oil.

Sour Cream

Sour cream is made from fermenting cream with lactic acid bacteria and it can be used to make homemade yogurt and various cakes and pies.


Flour is the base ingredient of most baked goods. Over the past 5 to 10 years there has been an increase in the number of flours available (i.e. rice, almond, oat, etc.), including gluten-free options. And the good thing is that it's super cheap.

What food never expires?

There are certain food items that you can hold on to for--well, pretty much forever without having to worry about them expiring. Here we'll discuss a few of them.

White Rice

White rice has a very low oil content. Not only is it cheap and versatile, but if stored properly inside an airtight container, it can last for years and years.


Cornstarch is another staple additive that you should keep in your pantry. It can help add texture to several baked goods and soups. And best of all, it will stay usable as long as it's stored in an airtight container without light.


Salt is fairly inexpensive. It also remains usable for several years.

How long does UHT milk last? powdered milk?

UHT milk is known to have a shelf life of anywhere from 6 to 9 months. Powdered milk is said to be good for 18 months.

In Closing

Modern classic kitchen pantry storage shelves and maple cabinets

We hope that this post has introduced you to the numerous staple items to keep in your pantry. Making sure that your pantry is stocked with the main cooking essentials can come in handy when emergencies arise. Before you go, be sure to check out some of our other posts:

How To Organize Glass Food Storage Containers [4 Crucial Tips]

Can You Recycle Plastic Food Containers? (Inc. Take-Out Containers)

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