How to Stock Your Pantry for Social Distancing (+ Recipes!)

Here is our list of suggested pantry and freezer staples for stocking your pantry in times of emergency, plus recipes for cooking your way through it.

With health officials advising social distancing to help slow the spread of Covid-19 and schools and offices closing for the next few weeks, having a well-stocked pantry and a plan for how to use it is a must. Here are our suggestions for what to stock and what to cook for the next few weeks.

The list below covers a lot of ground, but isn’t exhaustive. Don’t feel like you need to stock up on everything. If your family doesn’t ever really eat yogurt or frozen shrimp, no need to stock those items. Double up on the items that you DO eat regularly so you know you’ll have good food choices for the coming days and weeks.

Remember that you need to account for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Plan your shopping list and recipes accordingly!

Long-Lasting Fresh Foods

These items should keep for at least two weeks or more in your fridge or pantry. Also, remember that you can buy many fresh foods and freeze them for later, like berries and many vegetables, or turn them into freezer foods, like freezer burritos and casseroles.

Dry Pantry Items

Freezer Foods

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Pantry Recipes

Here are some favorite recipes that rely on pantry and freezer staples. You may not have every ingredient listed in the recipe, so anticipate doing some swapping or just leaving things out. Check out these round-ups for a few more ideas:

Classic chili in a dutch oven with a serving spoon.

Everyone needs a recipe for classic beef chili. Make this one your go-to! It's made with corn, peppers, tomatoes, and beans, and makes enough to freeze for later!

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Tuna Patties

Quick, easy, delicious tuna patties! Best thing you can make with canned tuna. Kid-friendly, Budget-friendly.

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Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca is a classic Italian pasta dish that's ready in under 40 minutes! Make it with canned tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, canned anchovies, jarred olives and capers. So simple and so good.

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Pasta Fagioli ready to serve

A soup of many names, Pasta e Fagioli, Pasta Fagioli, or Pasta Fazool, this classic Italian soup of beans and short pasta with tomatoes and vegetables is a classic favorite.

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Black Bean Soup

This hearty black bean soup is what you need on a cold and dreary day! Made with ham shanks, sweet potatoes, bell pepper, onion, cumin, and chili.

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Best minestrone soup recipe served in a dutch oven

Minestrone soup is an Italian classic! This version is made with cannellini beans, chicken stock, cabbage, potato, zucchini, carrots, plum tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese.

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Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti - classic Italian American comfort food of pasta baked with sausage, tomato sauce and all kinds of gooey, yummy cheeses. So EASY and so good!

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Easy chicken noodle soup in a white bowl.

The BEST homemade chicken noodle soup! This version is made from scratch, so it's light and nourishing. All the goodness from the chicken in one pot of soup. Just what you need to recover from a cold or the flu.

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Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chili Chicken Chili in the crockpot

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili is perfect for busy weeks! Make it with chicken thighs or breasts, onions, celery, black beans, frozen corn, chicken broth, tomato puree, and spices. Combine everything in a crockpot or slow cooker, and let it simmer all day while you're away.

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Shepherd's Pie

American favorite shepherd's pie recipe, casserole with ground beef, vegetables such as carrots, corn, and peas, topped with mashed potatoes.

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Basic Recipes to Have On Hand

Here are a few basic recipes to have on hand for easy reference! Also check out some pantry basics that you can make at home.

Perfect white rice in a metal pan with a wooden spoon full of cooked white rice.

Making white rice is easy! Avoid crunchy, mushy, or burned rice with these simple steps. Ready in under 30 minutes.

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Long grain rice Brown rice cooked on a stove top in a white bowl with a wooden spoon

PERFECT brown rice! Slow and low is the way to go. Yes, it takes a little longer than white rice, but it’s not any harder. We have a few hacks to bump up flavor and ensure fluffy results.

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How to Cook Dry Beans

Here is (literally) everything you need to know about cooking dried beans at home. With a few tips, beans are really so easy, and there are literally hundreds of ways you can use them! The texture can't be beat, and you can always freeze what you don't use.

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Baked Potato Recipe -- 3 potatoes split open with butter

Baked potatoes! The best ones happen the old fashioned-way: in the oven. Here’s the scoop on making perfect baked potatoes. (Spoiler alert: no foil!)

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Easy Peel Hard Boiled Eggs in the Pressure Cooker

Perfect, easily-peeled hard boiled eggs can be surprisingly tricky to pull off, especially when you need to make a big batch for Easter or a summer potluck. Here are three different ways that we've found give us consistent results, every time. Pick one to try the next time you need hard boiled eggs!

Chicken Stock

Three tried and true methods for making GREAT homemade chicken stock. One method involves simmering a chicken carcass with vegetables. The other methods require sautéing chopped pieces of backs and wings first, before simmering with water and veggies.

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How To Quickly Cook Chicken on the Stovetop

Poaching chicken is the EASIEST way to cook chicken for quick weeknight meals! Great for making shredded or sliced chicken for easy soups, lunch salads, burrito bowls, and more.

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Emma Christensen

Emma Christensen is the Editor-in-Chief of Simply Recipes, and has over 10 years of experience creating food and content for web and print. She was formerly the recipe editor for The Kitchn and is the author of three books on home-brewing, True Brews, Brew Better Beer, and Modern Cider. Emma is a graduate of The Cambridge School for Culinary Arts and Bryn Mawr College. She lives in San Jose, California.

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No ImageHow to Stock Your Pantry for Social Distancing (+ Recipes!)


    This is a thoughtful post although not written at the right time, I’m glad that i already stocked food thanks for sharing

    Show Replies (1)

    I enter your website regularly almost every day. You have some great articles. I Love Your Suggestions. Thanks.

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Gloria Yazzie

    I’m glad I found you. I cooked alot when I was able to. My pantry was full and glad I kept canned food. Now with this crazy hoarding. My son told me he needed food. Mom to the rescue. I was buying sale items, dry goods, canned foods, hygiene items, you name it. All came in handy. Now I’m looking for cleaning, tp, items. We’re 300 miles apart. I don’t drive anymore, and gas is down, he’ll visit for necessities. And will be printing some easy to cook recipes. Thank you so much.

  4. Karen

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. It is always good to have a check list. I think this is also a good time to encourage folks to plan out a garden.

  5. Sonia

    Wonderful article as always! Hope more and more people are discovering your great website and signing up for your daily newsletter.

    Having a well stocked pantry is always a good idea. Now and moving on. Thank you.

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