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Which Shelf-Stable Pantry Good Are Smart Buys?

Having a well-stocked pantry is a relatable goal for many home cooks. When your pantry is well-stocked, you’re able to create tasty meals on a moment’s notice, without having to head to the grocery store. But even more importantly, a well-stocked pantry can be a lifesaver when supplies are limited and you’re unable to leave home.

It’s a good idea to stock your pantry with shelf-stable items so you have a supply of food at all times. And it’s also hugely helpful in the event of an emergency. Having shelf-stable foods on hand ensures you have everything you need to eat and get important nutrients no matter what’s happening in the world.

What should a well-stocked pantry include? Here are the long-lasting, shelf-stable pantry items you should keep on hand, just in case.

Beans (Canned or Dried)

Beans are one of the most versatile foods in existence. They’re filled with protein, meaning they can be used instead of meat. They’re also packed with nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and highly filling carbs. Beans can be added into meals or become the centerpiece of a meal all on their own.

That’s why it’s a good idea to have beans of all kinds in your pantry. You can choose between canned beans or dried beans. Both have a very long shelf life, and both can be used in many different ways. If you choose canned beans, try to stock up on low-sodium options. If you choose dried beans, remember you’ll need to soak them before you can use them.

Aim to have a variety of different types of beans on hand. Budget Bytes recommends these commonly used kinds: black beans, kidney beans, white beans, and garbanzo beans.

Canned Tomatoes

You probably don’t think about canned tomatoes too often. Many people prefer the fresh variety, which is great when you’re able to purchase them (or even grow them in your own garden). But tomatoes are central to a number of easy-to-make recipes, and you can do a lot when you have them on hand, regardless of whether they’re fresh or not.

That’s why it’s a good idea to stock up on canned tomatoes. You can find canned tomatoes in a number of different varieties, like tomato paste, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, peeled tomatoes, and pureed tomatoes. Tomatoes are nutritious and filled with vitamins.

But most importantly of all, you can do a lot with a few cans of different types of tomatoes. You can turn canned tomatoes into a sauce, puree them into soups, and use them to add flavor to many different dishes. Canned tomatoes have a much longer shelf life than fresh tomatoes, and you can keep them in your pantry for years and years.

Canned Vegetables

Everyone knows it’s best to eat fresh vegetables. After all, vegetables are one of the most important foods to fill your plate with – and you need them to round out any diet. But how can you stock up on vegetables when they expire so quickly?

That’s where canned vegetables come in. While they aren’t as nutritious or necessarily as tasty as fresh veggies, canned vegetables should be in everyone’s pantry. You can do so much with canned vegetables, and they’re very nutritious and last for years if unopened.

Look for low-sodium canned vegetables. You should supply your pantry with a mix of different types of canned vegetables so you have flexibility and variety. Consider options like carrots, spinach, corn, pumpkin, green beans, and even potatoes.


Rice is a staple food in nearly every household around the world. It’s filling, it’s hearty, and it’s very versatile. Rice can be an entire meal on its own, and you can up its nutritional value by adding other ingredients (like canned vegetables and beans) to it.

And rice is something everyone should have in their pantry. Rice, when stored in a cool, dry place and airtight container, lasts as long as you need it to. White rice tends to last longer than other varieties, but the nutritional value of brown rice is also a factor to consider. It’s a good idea to have a few different types, such as white, brown, and long-grain rice, on hand.

Soup (Canned or Frozen)

There’s a lot to love about soup: it’s warm and inviting, hearty and filling, and always tasty. Soup comes in plenty of different varieties, from creamy to broths with vegetables and proteins. And in an emergency, soup can be a fantastic food to have on hand.

Homemade soup isn’t something you can stock up on. But canned soup is. You can purchase canned soup in countless flavors and varieties, including chicken noodle, clam chowder, and tomato. Canned soups can be an entire meal on their own, or you can use them in recipes or as sauces. They’re a versatile pantry item, and they can last for years.

Frozen soups are another option. Of course, you can’t add frozen soup to your pantry. But if you’re unable to get canned soup, you can also stock up on a supply of this hearty and nutritious meal by purchasing pre-packaged containers of soup at your local grocery store and freezing them. Frozen soup won’t last as long as canned soup, but it’s a good alternative.

Stock and Prepare Your Pantry With These Items Today

Adding the items mentioned here to your pantry can help you feel – and be – prepared for just about anything. Whether you fall ill and can’t make it to the grocery store or need to rely on an emergency supply of food, having these shelf-stable, long-lasting foods in your pantry will be a huge help.

If you’re looking to build a well-stocked pantry, make sure to do over time. Add a few extra cans of soup to your shopping list, or pick up a couple of boxes of dried pasta when you’re at the store. That way, you’ll have more than you need on hand in the future, without over-stocking or hoarding supplies.

With these staples in your pantry, you’ll be ready to cook nutritious meals in any kind of situation.

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