When we used to visit our Nana and Pop in South Florida as kids, we always knew one thing was for sure: there would be cookies in the cookie jar. Jenna, no more than a toddler, would excitedly run into our grandparents’ warm and familiar kitchen and gleefully spy the jar. Then, turning to Pop, she’d plead, “Cookie Pop! Cookie Pop!” Pop would happily hand her over a cookie, and as the years passed, our grandfather became better known to us as Cookie Pop — because he was our Pop with the cookies!
Back then, we never considered how the cookies got into the cookie jar. We just knew they’d be there. Little did we know, minutes before our arrival, Nana went into her pantry, grabbed a package of store-bought cookies, and loaded up the jar. It’s funny to think back now that we’re adults to all the little things that our grandparents did for us as kids. We never considered the logistics of the cookie jar, but now we know it took Nana two seconds to deliver us a special memory we’ll cherish forever. She didn’t bake the cookies. She didn’t run out to the store the day of our visit. She simply had her go-to pantry staples on hand – then Pop could be Cookie Pop in a moment’s notice.
The Magic of Having a Go-To List
Having a go-to list of pantry staples to have stocked in your home can take the stress out of several situations. Unexpected guests? No problem. Not sure what to serve for dinner? Check out the pantry. Need a quick appetizer to tide people over to dinner? Solved. Pantry staples are life savers when it comes to pivoting your meal plans or an easy way to be ready for entertaining in no time.
With that, we’ve chatted with Mimi, Nana and each other to compile a comprehensive go-to pantry staples list. We’re so excited to share our Ultimate Must-Have Pantry Staples List with you today! These items are guaranteed to make your life easier – whether it’s with warming up leftovers, putting together a quick snack, or rounding out a meal when hosting in your home.
The Ultimate Must-Have Pantry Staples List
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1. Must-Have Pantry Staples: Pasta Sauce + Pasta
Pasta sauce is one of the most versatile pantry staples ever. Sure, it’s perfect for a quick dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, but it has so many other uses. (It’s great added to stuffed peppers and meatloaf!) If you ask our Nana, it’s easy to know which pasta sauce to choose for your pantry. She absolutely swears by Hunt’s Garlic & Herb! Pair with any pasta option and you’ve got dinner in a snap.
2. Must-Have Pantry Staples: Chips & Salsa
We both love the convenience of having chips and salsa on hand! It’s a crowd pleasing snack that’s ready in seconds and gets devoured every time. They’re also items our families love to eat regularly, so company or not, these pantry items always get used. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to have mild salsa on hand but we like to add a bit of flavor with mango or pineapple salsas too!
3. Must-Have Pantry Staples: Canned Vegetables
Whether you’re looking to have a quick side dish or you need to add a bit more to your meal due to extra guests, canned vegetables are a must in any pantry. We love having everything from green beans and corn to peas and carrots on hand. Want to cut down on some of the sodium? Most stores and brands have no salt added options!
4. Must-Have Pantry Staples: Popcorn
With a long shelf life and a family favorite, Shannon loves to stock popcorn in her pantry. This go-to is the perfect option for a quick afternoon snack or to gather around for a family movie night. And, outside of just salt and butter, there are so many ways to customize popcorn with various seasonings. (Hey, have you seen our easy Taco Popcorn Seasoning? It’s super easy and so, so good.)
#HostfulHack: Keep a stash of popcorn on hand that can be popped in just a few minutes. It’s an easy and affordable snack that invites your guests to curl up on the couch.
5. Must-Have Pantry Staples: Broth
Nana always has broth on hand. Not only is it a base for so many recipes, it’s also the perfect way to reheat leftovers! Often times, leftovers can lose moisture, becoming dry and not as tasty. Add a little chicken broth to your reheating method, and your meal will be juicy and even more flavorful! In addition to chicken broth, we also love having vegetable broth on hand for soup bases or for vegetarian dinner guests. Just as with the canned veggies, you can often find low-sodium options if salt is a concern. (And, depending on what we’re cooking, we think low-sodium may even taste better!)
6. Must-Have Pantry Staples: Mixed Nuts
Mixed nuts is yet another option that has a long shelf life and is a quick & easy snack for guests. We especially love mixed nuts around the holiday time with a festive bowl or on a charcuterie board paired with meats, cheeses and fruit.
7. Must-Have Pantry Staples: Crackers + Cookies
You might recall that we’ve shared before that Mimi is the queen of coffee table entertaining. When we’d visit her growing up (and still to this day), she would always have entertaining crackers on hand. Paired with cheeses and dips, those crackers never lasted too long on her coffee table! And then, of course, we already shared about Nana and Pop’s cookie jar. Both of these items have long shelf lives, are simple to serve, and always have a sense of nostalgia and warm memories attached to them. These are no-brainers to always have stocked and ready to go!
That’s it! These pantry staples will come in handy when you need a quick snack or dinner idea – and when you’re crunched for time when hosting!
What are your pantry staples that you can’t live without? Tag us on Instagram @thebusybee.co and use the hashtag #hostfulhack! We’d love to see your own tips and tricks.
Hap-Bee Hosting, Busy Bee!