Well-Stocked Pantry tips and recipes from WeeliciousPin

How many times have you found yourself standing in front of your pantry, ready to cook dinner, but realize that you can’t turn anything in front of you into a balanced meal? Maybe, you think to yourself, you lack that special kitchen vision–the ability to find the meal in anything. Or perhaps you just haven’t stocked up on the kitchen staples that will help you turn even canned ham (not that we ever suggest you put canned ham on the table) into something your family will love. Don’t stress out. Here are a few quick strategies!

What goes into the well-stocked pantry?

Well-Stocked Pantry tips and recipes from WeeliciousPin

1. Shelf-Stable Pantry Basics

The easiest way to reduce the almost-meal-time anxiety is to always keep foods on hand that are easy to prepare, nutritious and have a long shelf life. By staying on top of this list you’ll reduce the number of last minute grocery runs, and always have something healthy and quick within reach. Here are the shelf-stable ingredients I always have on hand, and some recipe ideas!

Grains, Rice, and Pasta
Keeps these whole grains on hand to quickly whip up Mushroom Barley, Carrot Broccoli and Cheese Orzo, or Tex-Mex Rice Cakes.

Beans, dried or canned
Beans are packed with protein and can be used on their own, or in soups, taquitos, or salads!

Spices_ cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, vanilla extract
Add tons of flavor to chicken, savory muffins, or sweet potato fries!

Honey or Maple Syrup
We always have these on hand to naturally sweeten greek yogurt, pancakes, and smoothies!

Nuts and seeds
I like to add a small handful of nuts to school lunch from time to time and I always have Fruit and Seed Bars on hand in the freezer for an easy snack.

Whole Grain Bread, bagels, and pita
Sushi Sandwiches, Pizza Bagels, and Baked Pita Chips are all within reach if you keep these staples on hand.

Baking powder, Baking soda, Olive oil, and Kosher salt are all essential ingredients to have on hand for everyday cooking and baking.

Fresh Produce
This isn’t exactly shelf-stable, but we go to the farmer’s market once a week and buy enough fresh fruits and vegetables to have on hand to add to meals the entire week. On the rare occasion that we bought more than we could finish, I like to puree them up into smoothies and fruit leather.

Well-Stocked Pantry tips and recipes from WeeliciousPin

2. Refrigerator and Freezer Basics
Keep your favorite style on hand for your morning cereal, coffee, or to add to any recipe. We love vanilla almond milk, coconut coffee creamer, and good old fashioned cow’s milk.

These protein powerhouses are great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Use tofu when you’re in the mood for a healthy vegetarian protein. Add it to lettuce wraps or noodles for a quick and easy meal.

Frozen Vegetables
Keep these on hand for a quick side dish on their own, or add to Asian Succotash or Spinach Ricotta Bites.

Frozen Wild Shrimp
You can open our freezer at any time and find at least one bag of shrimp just waiting to be made into Shrimp Un-Fried Rice, Coconut Baked Shrimp, or Shrimp Gumbo.

Well-Stocked Pantry tips and recipes from WeeliciousPin

3. Family Favorites

Aside from the basics, the go-tos for what should be in your cupboards are the foods you and your family like best. Keep a list of the family favorites on your pantry door (the healthy ones, at least) and keep these ingredients handy at all times. This will help you recognize when you’re down on certain meal or snacktime essentials, keep things stocked, and ensure that quick bites or yummy meals are never too far from the table. These are our family favorites_

Nut and Seed Butters
Whether I need to pull together a quick breakfast or whip up a classroom snack, nut and seed butters are always in our pantry.

Cream Cheese
This vegetarian protein makes a frequent appearance in school lunches and makes a quick cupcake frosting!

Can you ever get enough cheese? I sure can’t. Pizza, quesadillas, and casseroles get a major flavor boost from this refrigerator staple.

Add pesto to pasta, sandwiches, and even meatballs for a new twist on an old favorite.

Organic Ketchup and Ranch Dressing
Sometimes serving a dip is just what the kids need in order to try a new food or finish their dinner.

Good, healthy meals don’t need to come from a professional kitchen. They don’t need fancy ingredients like saffron or truffle oils. Stock your pantry with these versatile basics, and you’re on your way to making quick meals when time is short and the kids are hungry.

About the Author

Catherine is a mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.


  1. This is fantastic, Catherine — thank you! I’m often in this position, and it’s so helpful to have a reminder of what bases I need to have covered in the pantry to avoid being stuck!

  2. An awesome roundup! I’m trying to get better at having an organized pantry …nothing worse than going to prepare dinner only to realize you’re out of one crucial ingredient!

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