Staple Foods

Stock Your Kitchen with Staples.

Planning meals is easier when you have staples on hand. Staples are foods that your family likes and uses often. In the cupboard, staples are foods that keep well for a long time — like pasta, dry beans, and canned vegetables. In the refrigerator and freezer, staples are foods that you use often to prepare meals.

Cooking and eating meals at home is a key step toward healthy eating.  Stock your kitchen with staples from each food group so you will be ready to make quick healthy meals.

This tip gives ideas for stocking healthy staples from each food group:

“Shop” for ingredients in your own pantry!

Staples can help you save time and money.

  • No more running to the grocery store midweek when you can “shop” for ingredients in your own pantry! 
  • You can make a healthy meal at home for less time and less money than you’d spend going to a fast food restaurant or ordering take-out (Food Hero Quick to Fix recipes). 
  • Stocking your kitchen with staples means you can buy them when they go on sale. This will cost you much less in the long run.

Grain Staple Ideas

  • Crackers — at least half your supply should be whole grain
  • Breads and bagels — at least half your supply should be whole grain
  • Rice — brown, wild, white, flavored
  • Spaghetti, macaroni and other pasta — at least half your supply should be whole grain
  • Noodle soups
  • Oatmeal — regular or quick-cooking (instant oats are higher in sodium)
  • Cereals — at least half your supply should be whole grain
  • Granola
  • Grits
  • Packaged quick bread mixes (such as biscuits, cornbread, pancakes, pizza)
  • Tortillas — at least half your supply should be whole grain or corn (refrigerate or freeze)
  • Rice cakes
  • Cornmeal
  • Flour — whole grain or white

Vegetable Group Staple Ideas

  • Fresh vegetables in season
    • Keep in a cool place away from sunlight: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions
    • Keep in the refrigerator: carrots, cabbage, celery, broccoli, lettuce, and others
    • Keep on the counter: tomatoes
  • Low-sodium canned beans and vegetables (such as peas, pumpkin, carrots and beets)
  • Low-sodium vegetable soups and juices
  • Spaghetti sauce, barbeque sauce and other ready-to-heat sauces
  • Salsa
  • Canned chilies and peppers
  • Frozen vegetables
You can find fresh pears nearly year-round depending on the varietyYou can find fresh pears nearly year-round depending on the variety

Fruit Group Staple Ideas

  • Fresh fruits in season — apples, oranges, pears
  • Fruits canned in juice or light syrup
  • Canned or frozen fruit juice (check the label for 100% fruit juice)
  • Raisins or other dried fruits
  • Frozen fruit

Dairy Group Staple Ideas

  • Fat-free or low-fat milk (refrigerate)
  • Canned milk
  • Dry milk
  • Cheese (refrigerate)
  • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt (refrigerate)
  • Low-fat cottage cheese (refrigerate)

Protein Food Group Staple Ideas

  • Dried or canned beans (such as kidney, pinto, black, garbanzo)
  • Dried peas and lentils
  • Canned chicken
  • Canned tuna or salmon (packed in water)
  • Peanut butter or other nut butters, like almond butter
  • Nuts
  • Frozen meat, fish, chicken or turkey (keep frozen until ready to use)
  • Eggs (refrigerate fresh eggs or purchase frozen egg substitute)
  • Broth (such as chicken, beef, vegetable)

Extra Staple Ideas

  • Oils — such as vegetable, canola, or olive
  • Margarine, preferably soft tub
  • Herbs and Spices — These may be cheaper to buy in bulk. Try to have at least three or four, like oregano, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and/or cinnamon.
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar — white and brown
  • Canned soup
Last updated: 01/09/13

User login

You need to login to use this feature, or create an account if you don't yet have one. It's free and easy.

Create an Account