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A FREE Pantry Staples Checklist to help you know what to try and keep on hand in the pantry for cooking and baking. Also, information about how long this food lasts in the pantry!

FREE Pantry Staples List

Why to have Pantry Staples on hand?

Pantry meals really come in handy during tight budget weeks or in cases of emergency where you can’t get to a grocery store or there isn’t much at a store. You know what else they’re good for?

Every day cooking and baking!

It’s good to have those staples on hand so that you have the most basic ingredients needed for most recipes.

We also like to keep track of these items, because it’s what we meal plan with. Each week, we go into the pantry and make our shopping list and weekly menu plan based on the ingredients we have. It helps so much and keeps us prepped with food to last for weeks (and or months).

Keep scrolling to the bottom to download your free pantry staples list. 😉

Are Pantry Meals Unhealthy?

Lots of people think that pantry meals have to be unhealthy and just be made out of pasta and cheese. But that doesn’t have to be the case! 

  • You can start storing whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa or whole wheat flour to increase the vitamins and minerals you can get from those ingredients. Meal substitutions can be a great way to increase the health content for most recipes.
  • You can use lots of frozen veggies or canned veggies if you don’t have money or access to fresh veggies. Frozen veggies have the same nutritional content as fresh veggies since most are frozen at the peak of freshness.
  • Use low fat options or healthy substitutes like greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • Incorporate fresh veggies or fruit wherever possible.

Where to buy food pantry essentials? You can buy pantry essentials at any grocery store or even bulk stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. Make sure that you buy appropriately for your size family. This means that it might be helpful to buy bulk pasta, beans, or rice. Now if you are interested in food storage pantry items that would be considered long term food I would look to brands like: Thrive Life, Augason Farms, Wise Company, and Legacy Food Storage.

How to make pantry staple meals

It’s easier to do than you think.

  • Always use stuff on hand
    • Even including leftovers (cut up veggies etc)Always use stuff on hand
    • Use things that will expire or go bad first (raw meat, eggs)
  • Look at the fridge first…
    • Meat, cheese, fresh fruit and veggies
  • Then the pantry…
    • Pasta, rice, bread, other grains
  • Then the freezer…
    • Frozen meat or veggies
  • Make it simple, but use your spices to make it fun and flavorful!
    • Something like jalapenos or chili powder for spice
    • Use chopped garlic or dried onion for classic flavors
    • Also don’t underestimate the power of delicious sauces!!

How Long do Pantry + Fridge Staples Last?

As you can imagine, they’re all different – and it all depends on how they’re boxed/canned/refrigerated/frozen.

We wanted to break it down for you so you knew the average expiration for each item. And we put them into different categories to help you out!

    • Canned fruit (1-2 years)
    • Canned veggies (1-2 years)
    • Canned chicken (3-5 years)
    • Beans (3-5 years)
    • Olives (1 year)
    • Tomatoes: diced, stewed etc (18-24 months)
    • Tomato paste and puree (18-24 months)
    • Pasta sauce (1 year unopened)
    • Shelf stable milk (2-4 weeks after expiration date)
    • Chicken broth (1 year beyond printed date)
    • Cheese
      • Block: 1-2 months
      • Sliced: 1 month
      • Shredded: 1 week after best by date
    • Milk (5-7 days after expiration date)
    • Butter (6-9 months)
    • Yogurts (opened 1-2 weeks, unopened 1-2 weeks after expiration date)
    • Sour cream (3 weeks)
    • Pasta (dried pasta will last 1-2 years after best by date)
    • Rice (indefinite shelf life)
    • Breadcrumbs (8-10 months)
    • Cornmeal (1 year)
    • Oats (1-2 years)
    • Potato flakes (10-15 years)
    • Frozen veggies and fruits (8-10 months)
    • Onions (2-3 months in fridge)
    • Garlic (3-5 months)
    • Carrots (3-4 weeks in fridge)
    • Potatoes (2-3 months in cold dark place)
    • Citrus fruit (1-2 weeks in fridge)
    • Apples (3 weeks in fridge)
    • Peaches, pears, plums (3-4 days in fridge)
    • Chicken (9 months raw, cooked chicken 2-6 months)
    • Ground hamburger (best within 4 months)
    • Cheese (6 months)
    • Bread (3-6 months in freezer)
    • Milk (3 months)
    • Flour (1 year at room temp)
    • Yeast (2-4 months past expiration date if unopened, 4-6 months in fridge once opened)
    • Baking soda (2 years unopened, 6 months opened)
    • Baking powder (9-12 months)
    • Vanilla extract (5 years)
    • Cream of tartar (6 months)
    • Sugar (2 years but technically forever)
    • Powdered sugar (2 years but technically forever)
    • Brown sugar (2 years)
    • Cocoa powder (2-3 years)
    • Chocolate chips (2 years)
    • Pancake mix (opened for 1 year)
    • Honey (2 years)
    • Maple or agave syrup (2 years)
    • Olive oil (2 years)
    • Vegetable oil (6 months)
    • Soy sauce (2 years in fridge)
    • BBQ sauce (refrigerate opened for 6 months, unopened in the pantry for 1 year)
    • Salt (forever!)
    • Pepper (3-4 years)
    • Chili powder (3-4 years)
    • Bay leaves (1-3 years)
    • Garlic and onion powder (3-4 years)
    • Paprika (3-4 years)
    • Italian seasonings (2-3 years)
    • Cajun seasonings (2-3 years)
    • Nuts and seeds (6 months in fridge or 1 year in freezer)
    • Nut butters (1 year)
    • Granola bars (6-8 months)
    • Crackers (6-9 months)
    • Cereal (6-8 months after expiration date if unopened)
    • Dried fruit (1 year)
    • Chickpeas (dried lasts for 2-3 years)


About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

So Easy & So Yummy

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  1. Pam says:

    Your Pantry Staples List and the List of How Long Do Pantry & Fridge Staples Last are so helpful and you saved us a lot of time by giving these to us.
    I am having copies made of both (blown up at Staples) framing them and hanging them in my food closet. I also am making up a framed set for my friend to put in her walk-in pantry.
    Thank you for “these gifts”, they are much appreciated.

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Oh you’re so welcome! That makes me happy to know these will have a permanent spot in your pantry! 🙂

  2. Jane says:


  3. Lisa K. Anderson says:

    I have been called a food hoarder by family members and while I agree, for living alone, I have a lot of food! It started decades ago growing up poor. But, with your pantry list I just feel like I am very prepared for company or another grocery shortage. I kid you not, I have EVERYTHING on your pantry list except vanilla ice cream only because I finished it this past Sunday night!

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Oh that’s awesome!!

  4. Barbara says:

    I got the Pantry Staples checklist. I would like to get the list how Long Staples last

    Thank you for your help with this.

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      We don’t have a printable list of how long the pantry staples last, but they are all there in the blog post. That’s great feedback though! Thanks for sharing.

    2. Lisa K. Anderson says:

      If you look on the website for a large food bank, like Los Angeles Food Bank, they usually have real shelf lives posted.Canned goods for example are 5 years after expiration date on can. Ketchup is I think a year after expiration.

      1. Robin Taylor says:

        Grat idea. I never seem to have what I need when I see a good simple recipe!

      2. Lil'Luna Team says:

        You’re welcome!

  5. Carrie says:

    I love these lists. It would be super helpful to have the expiration dates in a document that can be easily downloaded. I have a notebook that I keep handy with all I need for weekly meal planning. It has the inventory of my freezer, pantry and spices. This would make a great addition to that handy notebook.

  6. Noor says:

    Great info. Very helpful and handy to have.

  7. Susan Shea says:

    I love your emails. Keep up the good work!

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Thank you!! So glad you enjoy them!