Your Essential Guide to Pantry Staples

What you eat plays a huge role in your health and immunity. But when trips to the supermarket are few and far between, preparing healthy, fresh meals may seem like a challenge. So if you’re wondering what to buy for your pantry to ensure you continue to eat healthy over the next few months, we’ve got you covered.

The list below is adapted from the Food “Lifeboat” study, conducted in 2007 by a team of Australian researchers at Nutrition Research Australia, which sought to build a pantry list with goals of affordability, palatability, requiring no refrigeration, and meeting macro- and micronutrient needs for 10 weeks. The study also included a trial-and-error process of nutrition modeling, like seeing what happens to vitamin C levels when there is a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables.  And as a result, Dr. Flavia Fayet-Moore, CEO at Nutrition Research Australia recommends a good multivitamin and mineral supplement when access to fresh fruit and veggies becomes limited.

Our adapted list assumes you have access to a fridge and freezer, so includes some perishable items with longer shelf lives like potatoes, carrots, and apples. These items are listed at the top of each list, so just be sure to eat these first. 

Pantry Staples to Keep You Healthy 



Sturdy leafy greens like cabbage, kale, Swiss chard 



Frozen vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, peas, or mixed

Tomato paste

Sun-dried tomatoes

Powdered soup mixes

Seaweed, dried

Carrot juice



Frozen fruit like berries or mango

Fruit pouches like apple sauce

Dried fruit like raisins and apricots 

Orange juice

Healthy Carbs

Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, squash

Whole-wheat flour

Whole-grain cereal like old-fashioned oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Cheerios, or Weetbix 

Whole popcorn kernels


Brown rice, quinoa, barley, or farro

Instant mashed potato or dehydrated potato flakes

Whole-wheat or corn tortillas

Whole-wheat crackers

Corn kernels, canned

Protein Foods

Frozen chicken breasts or thighs, fish, shrimp, or lean meat


Long-life/Shelf-stable milk or milk powder (or soy protein powder)

Canned tuna, salmon pouches, or sardines

SPAM™ or beef jerky

Dried or canned legumes like lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas

Green peas, canned

Three bean mix, canned

Baked beans in tomato sauce

Healthy Fats

Frozen avocado

Extra virgin olive oil or canola oil

Nuts and seeds, like almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, or chia seeds


Sauces like sweet chili, reduced-sodium soy, hot sauce, dijon mustard

Dried spices like garlic, mixed herbs, onion powder

Honey or pure maple syrup 


Herbal tea like green or lemon & ginger 


During this time, your overall nutrition goals are the same—eat regular meals with one to two snacks, at each meal aim to build a balanced plate of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods (half veggies or fruit, a quarter protein foods, and a quarter healthy carbs), and drink lots of water. Remember, you’re likely to be less active, so eat mindfully by listening to your body and try to find healthy, non-eating ways to manage your stress like meditating, stretching, or calling a friend. And Fayet-Moore suggests, “Try a family recipe challenge to see who can come up with the tastiest dish using just a few simple ingredients from the list. And look at this period as a great time to eat more meals together for family bonding.”

Here are a few recipes for inspiration:

Overnight Oats with Berries

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Beans & Greens

Fish cakes

Easy Veggie Soup

Cabbage Pad Thai with Grilled Shrimp

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