12 Items You Should Always Have in Your Pantry

These dozen pantry must haves will ensure that dinner is never more than a few minutes away. Stock up during sales!

There are many good reasons to have a well-stocked pantry. Most of them are practical and immediate: you'll always have dinner items at the ready, especially for nights when you are busy or you otherwise haven't meal prepped. And of course, there are situations like power outages that can make you happy your pantry must-haves were available to you.

Think about what your family likes to eat when looking over this list. Pick up what you can when things are on sale. Or maybe make a point to have two of something on hand (cans of tuna or beans?) at all times so you are automatically stocked. Prepare a list of your own when you have some time, and consider nonperishable foods so they last longer. To help you best prepare, we have prepared a list of our 12 items you should always have in your pantry!

Canned Black Beans

Black beans are an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. Consuming black beans has many health benefits including regulating blood sugar, fighting cancers, aiding eye health, promoting heart health, and assisting with weight control. (We love any canned legumes, so if black ones don't do it for you, try white or red ones!)

High Protein Vegetarian Meal

The most simple meal preps turn out to be the best and this high-protein vegetarian meal prep boasts more than 20 grams of protein.

(Carbs: 75g - Protein: 27g - Fat: 22g)

Canned Corn

Corn has been shown to help with eye health, digestive health, and brain health while providing the body with plenty of B6.

Beef Patties with Sweet Corn and Sautéed Veggies

The key to successful meal prep is to have a plan, keep it simple and make it taste good! This Beef Patties-Sweet Corn, Rice, and Sautéed Veggies meal prep does just that!

(Carbs: 23g - Protein: 28g - Fat: 5g)

Canned Chickpeas

Chickpeas promote blood sugar health, help with digestion, fight cancer, and keep you full longer. They can be used to make hummus or cooked and used as a side dish.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Snack Boxes

This vegan snack box is full of good-for-you nibbles with a creamy tahini and roasted red pepper hummus, fresh veggies, and gluten-free crackers.

(Carbs: 33g - Protein: 9g - Fat: 22g)

Canned Tomatoes

Tomatoes have a great reputation when it comes to cooking usefulness, cost-effectiveness, and healthiness. Canned diced tomatoes (without salt, if possible) can work in a pinch over pasta, but they're irreplaceable in soups, stews, and chilis.

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

Cozy up to this vegan slow-cooker lentil soup chock-full of plant-based vitamins, fiber, and protein. Simply add ingredients to a slow cooker and let it do the work for a no-hassle meal that reheats in minutes.

(Carbs: 49g - Protein: 15g - Fat: 2g)

Canned Tuna

Tuna provides the body with omega-3 fatty acids, which most Americans don't typically get enough of in their diet. This protein source works great in sandwiches, salads, pasta, and so forth.

Tuna Quinoa Salad in Endive Wraps

This Tuna Quinoa Salad is made healthier and packed with protein. Greek yogurt instead of mayo makes for a lighter yet satisfying meal. Paired with endive leaves for easy meal prep wraps.

(Carbs: 34g - Protein: 29g - Fat: 3g)

White Rice

White rice is a low-cost food that is rich in magnesium, can improve colon health, is safe for those with celiac disease, and pairs well with countless foods.

Chickpea Curry & Rice

Plant-based main dish made with chickpeas, spinach, and a delicious coconut broth over jasmine rice.

(Carbs: 57g - Protein: 11g - Fat: 24g)

Brown Rice

Brown rice is often thought to be healthier than white rice but both are good choices. It also happen to be rich in B vitamins, phosphorus, and selenium.

Chipotle Brown Rice Bowl

If you’re craving the spicy flavor of your favorite Mexican spot, try this chipotle brown rice grain bowl with fiber-rich black beans, brown rice, and smoky grilled chicken. 

(Carbs: 45g - Protein: 33g - Fat: 24g)


Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp

Pantry and freezer staples come to the rescue for this quick and healthy meal prep idea, Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp.

(Carbs: 87g - Protein: 38g - Fat: 14g)


Salsa is filled with vitamin C and adds some kick to a whole lot of dishes. Try using it as something other than to serve with nachos; you'll be surprised by the ways in which you can use it (in a slow cooker with chicken, for example.)

Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas

This classic enchilada recipe uses two handy shortcuts: a precooked whole chicken and jarred salsa verde, to which you add some ingredients to make an enchilada sauce.

(Carbs: 38g - Protein: 38g - Fat: 26g)

Canned Cranberry

Consuming cranberries is good for you, and not just for Thanksgiving turkey. These berries have a ton of health benefits including reducing inflammation, maintaining digestive health, preventing cancer, and more.

Cranberry Turkey Lettuce Wraps

This easy turkey sandwich wrap is perfect for busy days. It’s full of protein and fiber.

(Carbs: 11g - Protein: 14g - Fat: 14g)


Easy Chicken Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is high in fiber and protein. It also happens to be a popular gluten-free grain.

Chicken Quinoa Salad combines fresh fruit and quinoa with high-protein chicken breast for a sweet and savory meal prep idea!

(Carbs: 32g - Protein: 64g - Fat: 5g)

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter ought to be in everyone's pantry, provided there are no allergies! It's such a good source of protein and can help keep you full. In fact, some people eat a tablespoon or two before bed to help build muscle.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Muffins

These intense chocolate muffins are a chocolate lovers’ dream, paired with a swirl of creamy peanut butter and low-glycemic sweetener making them great for breakfast.

(Carbs: 47g - Protein: 25g - Fat: 34g)

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