Having a few extra food items on hand can make last minute meals—or meals on days when you don’t feel much like cooking—much easier. And they can be helpful should you get stuck at home with a sick kiddo. Here are my go-to pantry staples for families.

pantry staples for a familyPantry Staples

I love stocking up on staples when they’re on sale and have enough extras on hand to allow flexibility in my meal planning. This also makes it easy to make lunches and quick meals should our schedule or plans change. The foods here are the ones that I find to be the most helpful to keep on hand for my family meals and meals for just my kids.

Remember: You don’t need to have everything on this list in your house. Maybe you pick 2 from each category or just buy an extra package of the ones you usually buy. These are just to give you some ideas of what you can feed your kids if you can’t get to the store like usual, like if you have a baby with the flu or even if you’re home with a brand new baby and want to stay home.

whole grain pantry staplesBest Whole Grain Pantry Staples

Here are the grains that I love to consider keeping on hand.

  • Couscous
  • Crackers
  • Flours
  • Mac and cheese (we like Annies but pick your favorite!)
  • Noodles
  • Oats
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Tortillas (store in the freezer if needed per the expiration date)
  • Bread (store in the freezer if needed per the expiration date)

TIP: I like to have my usual flours on hand in case the urge to bake strikes, especially since access to a variety of flours has still been so spotty. In which case I also make sure I have chocolate chips🙂

Best Shelf-Stable Fruits and Veggies

These are a few options for shelf stable produce that will be a nice backup should you need them.

  • Applesauce
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned fruit in water or 100% juice
  • Freeze-dried fruit
  • Fruit leather

TIP: You can also use your freezer and stock up on your favorite frozen fruits and veggies.

Best Shelf-Stable Proteins

Here are some great options for proteins that you can keep on hand for months.

  • Almond butter
  • Beans, dried
  • Beans, canned
  • Cheese, freeze-dried (like Moon Cheese)
  • Lentils
  • Jerky
  • Peanut butter
  • Peas, canned
  • Salmon, canned
  • Shelf-stable milk
  • Sunflower seed butter
  • Tuna, canned

TIP: You can also use your freezer and add a few packages of your family’s favorite meat, chicken, or seafood. You can also freeze milk!

healthy fats for the pantryBest Healthy Fats for the Pantry

Keeping some healthy fats on hand can help to make sure that meals taste good, have the right mix of nutrients for developing brains, and help keep digestive systems working well. Here are my favorite ones to keep in the pantry.

TIP: I like to keep eggs, cheese, butter, and milk in good quantities in the fridge too.

Best Shelf-Stable Snacks for Kids

You can find my full list of the best Store-Bought Snacks for Kids here, which includes my favorite shelf stable items including:

  • Applesauce
  • Canned fruit in water or 100% fruit juice
  • Crackers
  • Dried fruit
  • Freeze-dried fruit
  • Fruit leather
  • Granola bars
  • Larabars

TIP: You can also freeze homemade snacks. My Jam Bars, Homemade Granola Bars, and Healthy Muffins are great options to make ahead and freeze.

Best Staples to Keep in the Fridge

I’d add these to my list of foods to pick up at the store (assuming you have access to a fridge and it’s not a natural disaster!).

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fruit
  • Veggies
  • Milk
  • Yogurt

TIP: Add anything else you regularly rely on for making family meals and snacks!

Did I miss one of your family’s favorite pantry staples? I’d love to hear, so please comment below!

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  1. Do you have a list of favorite brands for these items, specifically the whole grains, that you’d recommend?

    1. For the whole grains, I’d look at store brands and Bob’s Red Mill (which is usually available in most stores)