affordable nutritious pantry staples

Stock Your Pantry With These Affordable, Nutritious Foods That Almost Never Expire

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Grocery shopping these days provides an interesting challenge. What you can buy in the store one day may change drastically the next. We're realizing the importance of stocking your pantry-- buying foods that have longer shelf lives. This makes them easier to store in times of emergency, when ingredients are scarce and shopping unpredictable.

What are some of the best foods to stock in your pantry for emergencies? It can feel overwhelming to figure out. Start with this simple list of 6 inexpensive foods--and what you can make with them.


If stored in a seal, air-tight container, oats can last 2-3 years. Stocking your pantry with several pounds of oats can help make sure you have healthy, high fiber options for to kick-start your day. Try eating oatmeal for breakfast for a hearty, filling meal. All you need is oats, water and heat. If you have fresh fruit and honey, you can add some sweetness. Try this overnight oats recipe to add more protein into the mix.

Soy Sauce

Opened bottles stored in the fridge can last 2-3 years. This makes soy sauce a long-lasting condiment that can season any dish, from chicken to vegetables to noodles. Whisk in a little honey to create a smooth and savory teriyaki sauce. For those eating meat from their freezer's stockpile, soy sauce can add variety to your recipe rotation.


Beans, lentils and legumes are a high fiber, high protein, and high health pantry staple. Even better than its health benefits is its shelf life-- most dry beans will last about a year. You can store them longer, just be sure to cook older beans a bit longer. In emergencies, a red bean and rice mix is an easy recipe that delivers many of the daily nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and strong. 


With a cooked freezer life of one year and an uncooked pantry life of 3, quinoa is a super seed that is also a super ingredient for a stocked pantry. Many people use this healthy alternative to rice and oats, as it has a similar consistency and packs a health punch with 9 essential amino acids. Use it instead of oats for breakfast with fruit and yogurt or to replace the lettuce in a salad at lunch. It also makes a tasty side dish for any entree, especially with a little parmesan and garlic. 

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a pantry staple for a lot of good reasons. On its own it provides healthy fats and proteins essential to preventing type 2 diabetes. Eat it alone on a piece of bread or with crisp apples, one of the few fruits with a longer shelf life. Peanut butter is a great substitute in recipes that call for sugar or other sweeteners. Peanut butter in pastas, soups or breads, it's a truly versatile staple that you'll be grateful you stocked up on. 


Pasta may not be the healthiest pantry option, but it is one of the cheapest with the longest shelf life. And you can transform pasta into a healthy dish by choosing one made from whole grains, chickpeas, quinoas or other base besides enriched white flour. A simple pasta with olive oil, salt, pepper and seasoning can be a good lunch especially if you need some carbohydrates to get you through the day. Pasta can also be a hearty side dish, especially if you choose one rich with fiber.

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the U.S. and the world, many people are learning how to live a little differently. In most cases, this involves learning how to maintain the essentials when grocery stores have become unpredictable. Be smart about how you stock your pantry to help get you through the lean times without sacrificing taste or flavor.