Essential food items: Foods that we should always have in our house

When it comes to having a well-assorted pantry, you most likely think of the following items: flour, sugar, bread and pasta. Since you most likely have these basic items already in your pantry, it is time to step your pantry up to the second level and have some other necessary items on hand.

Whether you need to prepare a last-minute dinner or an improvised dinner party, these following items are indispensible for your pantry, as they will leave you prepared for any emergency meal situation.

Remember that brown rice will take twice as long to cook as white rice

Broth or stock

This basic ingredient is used in many types of soup and sauces. It can also be used to replace water, to add extra flavor to savory dishes such as rice and couscous. You can use it as a seasoned base for a pot roast by adding fresh herbs to the stock.

It can be used in almost any main dish but make sure you have a variety on hand such as beef, chicken or vegetable broth. They come in handy packaging such as in boxes, canned or in dried cubes. Try each one, until you find what works for you.

Canned tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are available in many ways such as whole, chopped, smashed, puree or in a sauce. However you decide you use them, they all have something in common: they are low in calories and high in vitamins. Tomatoes make a tasty addition to stews, chili, Spanish rice, sauces and spaghetti sauce.

If you have limited space in your pantry, then opt for canned whole tomatoes as they can be chopped, smashed or made into a puree to be used in any recipe that you are preparing. Try experimenting with different flavors such as basil, garlic or roasted on the grill.


Dried beans are accessible and versatile. Plus they are high in fiber and proteins, which makes a great addition to any recipe. Rehydrate your dried beans by soaking them in water overnight, rinse then and place in a pot with a chicken broth, some chopped vegetables, meat and cooked pasta (added when beans are cooked) for a soup or stew. Add cooked pinto beans to Spanish rice for an easy meal or throw some cooked black beans onto your next salad for added flavor and texture.


One of the highest sources of vitamin B, fiber and magnesium and iron makes white and brown rice an essential, wholesome and versatile item in your pantry. Throw some rice into your stew or chili for a delicious and filling meal. Or serve it by mixing in some fresh herbs and spices to spice up your meals. Remember that brown rice will take twice as long to cook as white rice, when using this marvelous starch in your meals.

Canned chicken or tuna

Cooking chicken or fish from scratch each night, isn’t the best option, time wise. But using canned chicken or fish can provide you with an easy alternative with the same proteins and omega 3 fatty acids found in the homemade version in less time. Mix a can of chicken with mayonnaise or another creamy salad dressing, season with some herbs for a quick chicken salad. Canned tuna is a common sandwich filling, but it can be added to salads or pasta dishes for extra protein.

Boxed milk

It has the same taste and appearance as fresh milk, plus it contains the same nutritional value, but it can be stored for longer periods and stays fresh in the fridge for months, when the container is sealed. It has been processed for a longer period than fresh milk, making it stable for storing for longer periods as it is not prone to bacterial growth. If you don’t have much space in your refrigerator but need to always have milk on hand for your family, then this is your solution.

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