Stocking Your Pantry for Quick and Easy Meals

Need to throw together a last minute meal after a busy day? Wondering what to make for unexpected company? Keep your pantry stocked with these basics, and you’ll always be prepared.


  • Pasta, rice, and other quick grains. Pasta dishes are fast, easy, and popular. Keep jarred pasta sauce on hand to make prep a cinch. For variety, you can serve pasta hot as a casserole or cold as a salad.
  • Garlic, onions, and potatoes. These items can be used in practically every main dish, and a potato can be a meal in itself with a few toppings. Simple roasted red potatoes or fingerling potatoes make for an elegant side.
  • Oils and vinegars. Olive oil and vinegar are great for marinades, salad dressings, sautés and bread dipping. Add a punch of flavor to almost anything with balsamic vinegar.
  • Pancake or all-purpose baking mix and maple syrup. Pancakes make for an easy, special treat on a weekend. You can buy complete mix that just needs water, or all-purpose baking mix that can be made into pancakes, waffles, biscuits, pizza crust and more with just two or three more ingredients.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables. These items have long shelf lives, so they’re perfect to keep stocked for emergencies when you haven’t made it back to the store yet. 
  • Canned artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, and olives. Whipping up a nice antipasto or salad will be easy with these items on hand.
  • MAGGI® Instant Beef or Chicken Bouillon or canned broths. These can be handy for last-minute hearty soups or to flavor noodles or rice. You can also make simple sauces by combining broth with flour, butter, and even a little cheese.
  • Carnation® Evaporated Milk. Great for cooking, it gives dishes a creamier, fuller depth of flavor. Use it in creamy soups, pastas, casseroles, desserts, and more.
  • Wine and spirits. Be ready to serve drinks to surprise guests, or use wine to add flavor to many different sauces and dishes.

Refrigerator & Freezer

  • Eggs. This is a versatile source of protein that can be used in breakfast, lunch or dinner. Try having breakfast for dinner with the kids and serve up omelets with pancakes. For lunch, egg salad is an easy and yummy change of pace.
  • A variety of cheeses. Cheeses are great for snacking, toppings, salads and perking up a casserole.
  • Meats and fish. It never hurts to have chicken, ground beef, fish, and other meats on hand. You can even buy them in larger quantities and repackage them into half-pound or pound-size portions using a kitchen scale.
  • Frozen vegetables. Steam them, sauté them, puree them to add to sauces – these are one of the most versatile, nutritious items to keep on hand. If your recipe calls for fresh veggies, you can often substitute frozen just by thawing them.

One final tip is to buy in bulk. Anything that won’t go bad during a two-year period is the perfect bulk buy. Have a few favorite easy, go-to recipes? Stock up on the ingredients you need for those so you can always fall back on them.

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