Skip to main content

The Shelf-Stable Pantry Goods Everyone Should Have On Hand

4 minute read

By Heather Fishel

You probably don’t think about your pantry very often, unless you’re reaching inside to grab food for your next meal. But in the event of an emergency, your pantry could become your primary source of food. It’s a smart idea to ensure your pantry is well-stocked at all times, just in case you’re unable to get more groceries.

But what should a well-stocked pantry have? What items are shelf-stable, long-lasting, and able to be used in many different recipes? With the right items in your pantry, you can be prepared to withstand any kind of emergency.

bitt24 / Shutterstock

To prepare your pantry, you need to pick the right foods and goods. You need to choose foods that won’t spoil, are packed with nutrition, and are versatile. The following are some of the best pantry staples everyone should stock up on.


Rice is a very common ingredient, and it’s an excellent food to add to any meal. It’s used around the world on a daily basis – it’s cheap, shelf-stable, and easy to make. You can keep rice in your pantry for months on end. Rice is pretty filling, as it contains carbs and a few nutrients¹. And when you’re ready to cook with it, rice can be mixed with meat or vegetables, eaten as a side, or made as a main dish.

Just make sure to store your rice in a cool, dry place and keep it inside an airtight container so it lasts as long as you need it to². White rice tends to keep longer than brown rice, but both varieties are excellent pantry staples.

Canned Soup

Canned soup is likely something you only turn to when you or someone in your family is feeling under the weather. However, a simple can of soup can be a true lifesaver in an emergency. Canned soup is easy to prepare – it just requires heat – and is tasty enough to be enjoyable. Even more importantly, it can last a long time in your pantry.

And while canned soups can be entire meals on their own, you can also add vegetables and meat for more filling meals or use them as part of a recipe. They’re surprisingly versatile. If you’re looking for the soups with the best nutritional value, you’ll want to look for canned options that are low in sodium and packed with filling ingredients, like beans, lentils, or peas³.

Canned Vegetables

Many people think that fresh vegetables are the best option when you’re looking to get servings of veggies. However, canned vegetables shouldn’t be ignored. They’re quite nutritious, are long-lasting, and can be used in a wide variety of ways. And that makes canned vegetables an excellent pantry staple.

It’s a good idea to stock your pantry with canned vegetables that are low in acid⁴. Carrots, corn, beans, potatoes, pumpkin, and spinach are all great examples. On average, canned vegetables can last between two to five years – meaning you can build up a solid supply over time⁵.

Canned or Dried Beans

Beans are another dietary staple that plenty of people use on a daily basis. An excellent alternative to meat, beans offer protein, fiber, a good amount of vitamins and minerals, and are very filling carbs⁶. They’re a nutritious choice to have on hand, and they can be a great choice during an emergency.

Beans can be used in soups, salads, as a side dish, and even as a meal of their own. You can find beans that are canned, or you can purchase large quantities of dried beans in any variety. If you’re opting for canned beans, shop for low-sodium varieties.


Pasta is a comfort food that’s especially delicious – but it’s also the kind of food that’s desirable in an emergency. Packages of dried pasta can be turned into complete, simple dishes at any time, as long as you have access to water you can boil. It’s a very versatile ingredient too, giving you the ability to create many different types of dishes.

Today, you can stock your pantry with all kinds of different dried pastas. With options like traditional pasta, chickpea-based pasta, lentil pasta, and even bean pasta, you can achieve variety and nutrition with a stash of dried pasta.

And dried pasta should be a stocked-up staple in your pantry. Unopened packages of dried pasta can actually last for several years, despite their printed expiration dates⁷. To extend the life of your pantry’s dried pasta even longer, you can store it in airtight containers.

Prepare Your Pantry for Any Emergency Today

Although you use what’s inside your pantry on a daily basis, there are many good reasons to stock up on your favorite shelf-stable items. You never know when an emergency might strike, or when you might be unable to visit your local grocery store. And if you have the right foods in your pantry, you won’t have to worry about these problems.

You can ensure your pantry is well-stocked and ready for anything with the foods mentioned here. You can also add variety to your canned and dried goods by stocking up on anything that’s shelf-stable and nutritious at your local grocery store. Look for foods that don’t expire quickly, and check their nutritional labels to see if they’re filling and good for you.

Heather Fishel