How To Stock Your Pantry

Whether you are just getting started in your first new home, or you’re tired of things being an unorganized disaster, meal planning and kitchen organization can be crazy to grasp control of, especially if you have a large family.

It’s important to only keep items that you will use, know what you have, and get rid of things you don’t need. The biggest question you probably have is what DO you need? I will address that, how much you need of each item, and tips for organizing and planning what to keep stocked.

Start with a clean slate

If you are just moving in, you have this step cut out for you. However, if you are trying to get a handle on the chaos that has become your pantry, you have to start by going through what you already have.

Make 2 piles: food you will use, and food you won’t use (either because it’s a random item you can’t see yourself using, or it’s out of date). Throw out the food you will not use (or give to a local food pantry).

With the food you will use pile, write down exactly what you have so you can use that information for meal planning later.

Assess your regular meal plans

If you are a great meal planner, think through what canned and boxed items you use on a regular basis. Write a list. If you do not regularly meal plan, now is the time to start! You will save crazy amounts of money, waste less food and have a much easier time organizing your pantry. If you need help getting started with meal planning, check out this post.

Figure out what your family needs

I do not keep crazy amounts of food on stock. We have a small family, a small house and very limited storage room. My rule of thumb is to keep on hand what I would need to use an ingredient for one meal! If I notice that I don’t have enough of a basic ingredient to make do for one meal, then I know I need to buy some more (even if I don’t have that ingredient in the meal plans for the next week).

What you have to figure out is what your family uses most regularly and how much your family needs for that “one meal” backup for “stock”. Aside from this stock, all you need to be buying is what you specifically need for your upcoming groceries. For example, if I’m planning a meal with green beans, I know that I have 1 can of green beans in the pantry (1 can is our family serving size at the moment), but I will add 1 can to my grocery list anyways. I know that green beans are a very good last minute dinner addition so I want to have that extra can on hand.

Items You Want To Keep In Stock

Canned goods: 

  • Diced/Crushed tomatoes
  • Whole kernel sweet corn
  • Green beans
  • Black beans
  • Chili beans
  • Refried beans
  • Green beans
  • Cream of Mushroom soup
  • Cream of Chicken soup
  • Rotel
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Sliced Peaches
  • Chunked/Crushed Pineapple
  • Pumpkin
  • Peas
  • Tuna


  • Flour
  • Yeast
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Honey
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Vanilla
  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate chips
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Vegetable/Canola Oil
  • Vegetable/Canola Oil Cooking Spray

Dry goods: 

  • Chopped/sliced nuts
  • Dried berries
  • Flax/Chia/Sunflower Seeds
  • Mixed nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Granola Bars
  • Croutons
  • Crackers
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice
  • Granola
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Spaghetti
  • Macaroni
  • Chicken/Beef/Vegetable Stock


  • Salt + Pepper refills for shakers
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Red Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Paprika
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Nutmeg
  • Allspice
  • Ginger
  • Ground Clove
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Salt
  • Taco Seasoning

Refrigerated items: (technically not your “pantry”… but still need to keep these things stocked!)

  • Basic meats in bulk if you have room (chicken breasts, ground beef, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Salad Dressings
  • Butter
  • Minced Garlic
  • Cheese

Get Organized

Stack boxed items together, canned items grouped by type, and oddly shaped items in baskets, tubs or bins. Labels are great for high shelving, and if you have to use lower drawers or shelving you can try labeling your cans with a sharpie to make them easier to grab when you’re cooking! Here’s to happy organizing!

How to stock and organize your pantry


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