Pinchin' Pennie$ in the Kitchen: What's in your Home Food Pantry?

(FN1706, Reveiwed Aug. 2019)

Having essential nonperishable food items in your pantry can save you both time and money. When your cooking you won't have to run to the store as often, you'll already have the essentials at home.

Lead Author
Lead Author:
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist
Other Authors

Leah Haak, Dietetic Intern (former)

Available in print from the NDSU Distribution Center.

Contact your county NDSU Extension office to request a printed copy.
NDSU staff can order copies online (login required).

Publication Sections

A pantry stocked with essential nonperishable food items can save time and money. Making dinner becomes a snap when you have most of the ingredients you need for a recipe already in your cupboard. You can cut back on trips to the grocery store.

You can save money by taking advantage of sales at the grocery store. When your commonly used nonperishable foods go on sale, stock up on them. Pantry foods last a long time on the shelf in a cool, dry place, so you won’t need to be as concerned with spoilage as you would with fresh items.

Be sure to label and date items and arrange your pantry in “first in, first out” order. See the “Food Storage Guide” (FN579) at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn579.pdf for more information about food storage.

The following list includes some ideas for common pantry items. Personalize your pantry to include the ingredients that you use when you cook or bake. For recipe ideas, see www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/recipes to view NDSU Extension recipe database.

Check the items that you use on a regular basis.

Baking supplies

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Brown sugar
  • Chocolate chips
  • Granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla, other flavorings
  • Whole-wheat flour**
  • Yeast*

Condiments, seasonings and oils

  • Barbecue sauce, other ready-to-heat sauces*
  • Honey
  • Hot sauce or chili paste*
  • Fruit preserves/jam (reduced-sugar)*
  • Ketchup*
  • Mayonnaise, reduced-fat*
  • Mustard*
  • Olive oil, other cooking oils (canola, sunflower, etc.)
  • Salad dressing (French, ranch, etc.)*
  • Salsa*
  • Soy sauce, reduced-sodium*
  • Taco sauce*
  • Vinegar (cider, white, etc.)
  • Worcestershire sauce*


  • Dry milk
  • Evaporated skimmed milk


  • Canned fruit, packed in fruit juice or light syrup (applesauce, peaches, pears, etc.)*
  • Canned pumpkin*
  • 100 percent fruit juice* (shelf-stable containers)
  • Raisins and other dried fruits


  • Canned soup (reduced-sodium tomato, vegetable, etc.)
  • Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste
  • Canned vegetables
  • Garlic (fresh and/or prepared*)
  • Onions (fresh and dried, minced)
  • Pizza sauce
  • Potatoes (fresh and/or instant potato flakes)
  • Spaghetti sauce


  • Bread crumbs
  • Pasta (whole-grain and regular spaghetti, macaroni, etc.)
  • Plain and seasoned rice, preferably brown
  • Quick bread mixes (for example, biscuits, cornbread, pancakes and pizza crust)
  • Quick-cooking oatmeal
  • Saltine crackers
  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Whole-grain crackers

Herbs and spices

  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Chili powder
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Onion powder
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Salt
  • Thyme


  • Bouillon cubes (chicken and/or beef)
  • Condensed cream soups (reduced-sodium cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, etc.)
  • Cornstarch
  • Chicken or beef broth, reduced-sodium
  • Instant pudding mixes (vanilla, chocolate)
  • Gelatin (various flavors)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Solid shortening

Protein foods

  • Canned beans, lentils and chickpeas***
  • Canned fish (tuna, salmon, packed in water)
  • Canned meat (chicken)
  • Dry beans (kidney, black, navy, etc.), split peas and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds**
  • Peanut butter

* Refrigerate after opening.

** Refrigerating or freezing extends shelf life by preventing rancidity.

*** Drain and rinse canned legumes (beans, etc.) to reduce about 40 percent of the sodium.

Check out the recipe database and other cooking/nutrition tips at www.ag.ndsu.edu/food