As a gig worker, my schedule changes daily, which means I don’t always have time to shop for groceries or prepare elaborate meals. That’s where pantry essentials with a long shelf life come in handy. I stock the following five items in my pantry so that I always have a backup meal on hand. These suggestions can simplify and make your life easier, too.
What are Pantry Essentials
Food ingredients you always have on hand are considered pantry essentials. Use these ingredients to make a selection of versatile and tasty meals you and your family will want to eat.
The ideal pantry essentials are shelf-stable and don’t spoil or expire quickly. I store and organize pantry essentials on sturdy shelves in my kitchen, but you can use any accessible location in your house or garage.
How To Choose Pantry Essentials
At your local grocery store, you can find dozens of shelf-stable pantry essentials. To create your list of essentials, first consider your meal plan. I stock the ingredients I use regularly and the items my family enjoys eating. As your needs, preferences and tastes change, alter the specific items you stock.
Five Pantry Essentials
I generally keep five categories of pantry essentials on hand. With these meal ingredients, I can create tasty and healthy meals any day or time of the week.
1. Canned Goods
Soups and vegetables last for years in cans. Add a selection of regular and low-sodium canned goods to your pantry to supplement any meal. Some canned goods I stock include:
- Broths — beef, chicken and vegetable
- Coconut Milk
- Vegetables — beans, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes
Add bulk, flavor and texture to meals with grains. As long as they’re stored away from air, heat and moisture, grains can keep for a long time. I stock a mixture of quick-cook and whole grains to add variety to every meal, such as:
- Rice — basmati, black, brown, wild
Quick to cook and a comfort to eat, pastas come in numerous varieties. Pasta also features a long shelf-life. My favorite pastas originate around the world and include:
- Asian Rice Noodles
- Buckwheat Soba Noodles
- Israeli Couscous
- Italian Pastas
Legumes, meats and peanut butter are a few protein options you can turn into a filling meal or side dish. Plus, proteins can last for a year or longer when stored away from direct sunlight or heat. I like to include these protein options on my shopping list.
- Hemp Hearts
- Legumes — lentils, chickpeas, beans
- Meats — chicken, salmon, tuna
- Peanut Butter
- Seeds — chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
- Tofu and/or Tempeh
Marinades, marinara and other sauces complement a variety of meals. Mix and match sauces based on your tastes, cuisine preferences and needs. I stock my family’s favorite sauces, such as:
- Hot sauce
- Salad Dressings
Pantry Essentials Simplify Your Life
When you need a quick and easy meal, you’ll be grateful to have these five pantry essentials on hand. And for an even easier way to manage your meals, consider a service like Freshly that delivers fresh, portioned and prepared meals right to your door.
About the Author: Jennifer Turner writes web content for a variety of clients. As a gig worker, she understands the benefits and challenges of the industry, which is why she prioritizes daily self-care. Find her at WriterAccess.