Pantry Essentials

Many restaurants are now closed and with most of us now working remotely, cooking at home is more important than ever. This blog includes the following:

  • Steps to stock up on non-perishables
  • Pantry essentials 
  • Ideas to use pantry essentials
  • Shelf-life guidelines

The Centre for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) recommends having a minimum two week supply of food at home.

Preparing a pantry to last a minimum of two weeks is not an easy task for many, especially for new cooks and those on restrictive diets. This blog provides the tools to ensure your pantry is well stocked and provides you the inspiration to cook with pantry ingredients.

How to stock up on non-perishable in an effective way

Take inventory of what you have

Begin by looking at what is currently in your pantry, fridge & freezer. Use our PANTRY GUIDE to note anything running low in your pantry

Make sure you have the basics

Some basics are essential to cook virtually anything. These include: oil, vinegar, dry herbs and spices, salt and flour.

Make a meal plan

Shopping for self-isolation does not mean ditching healthy eating. Try to stay away from highly processed foods which can be very tempting during stressful situations. Having a meal plan of how to use your food is a good way to continue to eat whole foods and avoid processed foods. Take 10 minutes to write down a few meals you would like to make in the next 2 weeks. Would you like some freezer meals? If you have any family favourites, you can make a larger batch and freeze them for a few meals. Do you have frozen chicken for that chicken pot pie? Do you have ground beef for that spaghetti meatballs? Ensure to go through the recipes and add any required ingredients to your list. 

Talk with loved ones

If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, remember we are all in this together and we are stronger together. Call your friends and family. If you don’t have ideas of recipes to freeze or make with pantry items, ask your loved ones for inspiration. We are also providing a list of freezer recipes and recipes made with pantry ingredients. If you have extra frozen meals, consider sharing them with loved ones who need a hand. 

Space and Financial Budget

Determine how much space and money you have available to stock your pantry.

Pantry Essential - The Ultimate Guide

How can pantry essentials be used?

Grains & Flour
  • Grains make an amazing side dish. Think: Rice pilaf and quinoa salad. They can also be central to dishes like with paella or vietnamese noodle bowls.
  • Flour is fundamental to many comforting staples: breads, pizza, cake, muffins, cookies, pie, dumplings, and many others.
Dried Fruits
  • Combined with nuts dried fruits make a good snack.
  • Add them to granola, chia puddings or overnight oats for bursts of flavours.
Nuts & Seeds
  • Add them to granola or top oats.
  • Use as topping on salads.
  • Combine with fresh or dried fruits for a snack.
Legumes & Beans
  • Legumes and beans are can be used to make chili, hummus, salads, tacos.
  • Cooked legumes can also be lightly oiled, salted and toasted for a delicious and nutritious snack. 
Oils & Vinegars
  • Oils are an essential to pan frying or roasting vegetables.
  • Combine oil, vinegar and spices to create delicious salad dressing.
Herbs & Spices
  • Is essential to create almost all comfort dishes from bolognese, chili to chicken pot pie. 
  • Use them to easily transform the flavour of a casserole, stew or soup.
  • Frozen meats can be used in a variety of dishes: bolognese sauce, chili, chicken pot pie, beef stew, fish stew, cabbage rolls, and many others.
  • Frozen fruits can be used to make smoothies or to add to oatmeals and muffins.
  • Frozen vegetables can be added to tons of dishes.
  • Root vegetables can be used to make a variety of dishes including: Mashed potatoes, cabbage rolls, borscht soup, beef stew, chili, or as a side dish roasted at 400F for 20 minutes lightly oil and salted.

It is comforting to incorporate a few indulgent foods, like chocolates or other sweets to pantry essentials – especially during stressful times. Ensure to not overindulge by eating mindfully. 

  • Delicious bakings include: cakes, cookies, pies, cinnamon buns, brownies, and many others. 

What's the shelf-life of common pantry items?

The estimates provided estimates. Read all information on packaging regarding expiration and “use by” dates, and how long the item is safe to consume after opening. If a date on a package differs from the dates listed, rely on the package.

Use your senses of sight and smell to be sure food is safe to eat. Even if it says it’s within the expiration date periods, if it smells or looks funny throw it out! Remember that “best before” dates do not mean “bad after”. Use your senses and judgement to minimize food waste.

Must be Unopened

Estimated Shelf-Life


3-5 weeks

Coffee - Whole beans

6-8 months


8 months

Sauces & condiments

1 year

Chocolate chips

1 year

Brown rice

1 year


1 year

All Purpose Flour

1 year

Legumes & Beans

18 months


1 - 2 years

Cocoa powder

2 years

Baking soda

2 year


2 years

Dry pasta

2 years