Non-Perishable Foods to Stock Up on + Easy Pantry Recipe Ideas

Stock up on these non-perishable food items and pantry staples so you are always well-prepared for the unexpected. Plus get a few pantry recipes ideas and tips for easy meals without fresh foods.

pantry staples: non-perishable foods list and easy pantry recipe ideas

Having a well-stocked pantry is always a good idea!

With all of your pantry staples on hand, you can prepare a quick meal on demand, even if you didn’t have time to go to the grocery store.

It’s also good to have non-perishable foods on hand in case of emergencies. Whether it’s due to the weather, or due to something even more unexpected (like what we’re currently dealing with amidst the coronavirus), the reality is that emergencies do happen.

So when you find yourself unable to go to the grocery store for one reason or another, unable to use fresh foods and left with what’s in your pantry, you’ll be glad you stocked up!

I’m sharing my non-perishable food list so you know what to buy, plus some quick pantry recipe ideas so you can whip up meals with just a few ingredients.

rice dish in a cast iron skillet

What is a non-perishable food item?

If a food is “non-perishable,” it means it doesn’t require refrigeration and can last for a long period of time in your pantry. Think foods that are canned, dried, jarred, or dehydrated. 

Keep in mind that some of these foods may need to be refrigerated after being opened.

What are the best non perishable foods?

The best shelf-stable foods are pasta, rice, dried or canned beans, and canned vegetables. These are easy to stock up on in bulk, they’re affordable, and they can be combined to make simple meals.

Is bread a perishable food?

Yes. Fresh-baked breads only last a few days. Bagged sandwich bread that you typically see at the grocery store can last a little longer if stored in a dry, cool place (up to 2 weeks). If you want to stock up on bread, you can store it in the freezer and thaw it as you need it.

Are potatoes perishable?

Yes they are, but they last a relatively long time if stored in a dry, cool spot. They can last up to 1 month, making them a good thing to keep on hand.

What food never expires?

There aren’t many foods that truly never go bad, so always take food safety into consideration before consuming something. However, there are a handful of things that last soooo long that it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself unable to eat it in an emergency.

  • Honey is possibly the only food that truly never expires. Keep a jar of it in your pantry to add flavor to other things, like bread, oatmeal, or crackers.
  • Rice can last for a very long time (almost indefinitely), so always keep a bag of it in your pantry.
  • Dried beans last longer than canned beans, although both last for years (dried = indefinitely, canned = up to 5 years).
  • Unrefined coconut oil doesn’t really expire, and it can be used in all kinds of cooking. It works as a regular cooking oil, it can be warmed to a liquid consistency, and can also be used in its more solid form.

Check the USDA’s website for more information about food safety and shelf-stable foods.

Non-Perishable Foods List to stock up on

  • Beans: Pick up canned or dried beans and lentils. You can get black beans, garbonzo beans/chickpeas, red beans, white beans, kidney beans, any beans. You could also grab cans of baked beans or refried beans.
  • Canned Vegetables: The variety of canned veggies isn’t quite as wide what you find fresh, but you can get most of the usuals. Stock up on cans of peas, green beans, corn, carrots, beets, etc. You can even get cans of vegetable medleys.
  • Dried Grains: Grains are a great base for meals, and you can get large quantities of them for really cheap. Get bags of rice, quinoa, and cous cous.
  • Cereals: Breakfast cereals and granola in unopened packages can last up to 8 months, so it’s a good thing to keep on hand.
  • Nut Butters: Peanut butter is considered safe by the USDA up to 3 months past sell by dates, however it typically is safe to eat a little bit longer. 
  • Honey: It never goes bad, so honey is possibly the best emergency food to have.
  • Canned Protein: Stock up on cans of tuna, chicken, or ham for protein.
  • Pasta: Pasta is one of my top pantry staples because it lasts for such a long time, and there are so many different types. Spaghetti, rotini, macaroni, penne…plus it always tastes good even with just a little bit of seasoning, oil, or sauce and veggies if you have it.
  • Shelf-stable Milk: Buy shelf-stable milk that doesn’t need to be refrigerated right away. You can get dairy milk, almond milk, or other plant-based milks in this form. They typically last 6-8 months in the pantry, but need to be refrigerated once opened.
  • Soup: Canned soup is a lifesaver in emergencies. It’s a full meal with veggies, protein, and lots of flavor packed into one can. They can last up to 2-5 years.
  • Canned Fruit: When fresh fruit isn’t an option, canned fruit makes a great replacement. Canned peaches, pears, and fruit medleys are often high in sugar since they’re preserved in syrups, but they last for a couple of years in the pantry. 
  • Dried Fruits: Another option is dried fruits, like raisins, dates, dried apricots, mango, bananas, etc.
  • Granola Bars: Individually-wrapped granola bars are great to keep in your pantry for emergencies because they last for 6-8 months.
  • Jarred Sauces: Grab shelf-stable jars of sauce to eat with pastas, grains, or veggies.
  • Canned Coconut Milk: This can be used in cooking and baking, or it can be warmed and consumed as a liquid milk.
  • Oats: A large container of quick oats can make a whole lot of oatmeal, and they’ll last for a couple of years in a sealed container. 
  • Tortillas: Tortillas are great because you can freeze them and they take up so much less space than bread. Frozen they can last 6-8 months.

A few more pantry staples…

  • Olive oil and other cooking oils
  • Spices and seasonings
  • Crackers
  • Shelf stable juices and drinks
  • Bottles or jugs of water
  • Instant coffee
  • Dried meat like beef jerky

And some freezer staples

  • Frozen veggies
  • Frozen meat or seafood
  • Loaves of bread to freeze
  • Frozen pizzas or meals
  • Frozen fruits and berries (think easy smoothies)

Grab a free printable grocery list to help you stock your kitchen!

pasta dish in a silver pan

Pantry Recipe Ideas

I know a lot of us feel like our cooking options become limited when we don’t have fresh foods to use and can’t go to the grocery store to grab our ingredients, but pantry staples and non-perishable foods can go a long way to making fun and tasty meals (plus they’re super easy to make).

You can combine things like rice, pasta or any kind of grain with canned veggies, beans, and sauces in so many ways to create quick meals. 


Stock up on boxes of pasta, canned veggies and jarred sauces, and you’ll have quick meals that last in the pantry for months.

Recipe Ideas:

  • Pasta shells + jar of alfredo sauce + can of sweet peas, then add some black pepper.
  • Spaghetti + can of tomato paste + raid your spice rack for oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, or any Italian seasonings you have.
  • Penne pasta + can of chickpeas + canned mushrooms and drizzle it with olive oil and sea salt.

Freezer Additions: Stock up on frozen shrimp, veggies, and meats to add into your pasta dishes.


Grab a large container of rolled or quick oats, combine with water or milk to heat, then add a variety of toppings to make delicious oatmeal. It’s a great breakfast but can also be a good snack or even dessert with the right ingredients.

Recipe Ideas:

  • Oatmeal + peanut butter + honey + add bananas if you have them
  • Oatmeal + chocolate chips + dried cherries
  • Oatmeal (made with canned coconut milk instead of water) + coconut flakes + dried pineapple & mango

Freezer additions: add in frozen berries for more topping options!


Soup is a go-to for pantry meals. Grab cans of soup at the grocery store and they’ll last for years. You can also make your own concoctions with soup broths, beans, and veggies.

Recipe Ideas:

  • chicken broth + canned chicken + veggies
  • veggie broth + chickpeas + garlic + cous cous + veggies
  • can of tomato soup + beans + veggies

Freezer additions: frozen veggies can add a lot of variety to your pantry soups. Plus with a freezer, you can make a big batch to store for later.

Grain Bowls

Grain bowls are a favorite because you can just throw whatever ingredients you have together to make a tasty meal.

Recipe Ideas:

  • brown rice + black beans + corn + can of diced tomatoes or jar of salsa
  • cous cous + chickpeas + turmeric + veggies
  • coconut rice (jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk) + sweet potatoes + veggies

Freezer additions: Frozen vegetables and meats are a good way to add in ingredients that aren’t available for the pantry. Frozen chicken and seafood, or frozen broccoli and brussels sprouts make great additions for grain bowls.

bowls of vegetable soup

Cook with what you have

The point of these quick recipe ideas is to show you that sometimes cooking is just about using what you have.

A dish doesn’t have to be intimidating, it doesn’t have to have a long list of ingredients, and sometimes all you need to do is combine what you have and add some seasonings!

Even during those times when you can’t go to the grocery store, a few non-perishable ingredients in your kitchen is enough to make a meal.

If you want to make a certain recipe but lack a couple ingredients, see if you can make it without. Usually you can get creative and skip a few ingredients that you might not have access to. This is especially true with garnishes. They’re nice when you have them, but totally optional.

Tips to modify recipes when you don’t have fresh foods

If you’re following a recipe but don’t have fresh food options, don’t worry! A few modifications on the fly means you can still make that dish. With non-perishables and frozen foods, anything is possible!

  • For the most part, if a recipe calls for fresh produce, you can easily substitute canned or frozen options. Just be sure to thaw frozen veggies before adding them in to cook, or cook veggies separately before combining them with the rest of the dish.
  • If you don’t have meat to use in the recipe, try replacing it with another type of protein. Beans work great in soups, tacos, rice dishes, and all kinds of meals. You could also stock up on canned or vacuum-sealed tuna or chicken to use in different recipes.
  • Fresh fruits won’t last very long, but dried fruits and jams can add the same fruity flavors to dishes. You can also stock up on frozen fruits and berries to substitute in recipes.

I hope this post can help you to continue preparing delicious meals for you and your family, even during busier or rougher times.

From my family to yours, enjoy!

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