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My Top 10 Pantry Staples to Stock in Case of a Quarantine

There is a lot of fear and uncertainty right now around the spread of Covid-19. Events that draw crowds of people are being cancelled, travel advisories being issued, and stores can’t even keep hand sanitizer on the shelf! My husband recently said that he thinks we should stock the house with at least two weeks’ worth of food in case of a quarantine! His comment got me thinking though about healthy pantry staple items to keep in the house in case this does happen (and I really hope it doesn’t).


Here are my top 10 Pantry Items to have on hand in case of a quarantine: 1. Dried Pasta – I always keep lots of pasta in my pantry and include a mix of regular/white pasta and whole grain or whole wheat pasta. It is a fast meal to make and keeps for a long time in the cupboard. One of my favourite recipes is this Tuna and Tomato Pasta from the Food Network Kitchen. It uses canned tuna and canned cherry tomatoes which add such a nice sweetness and are readily available at the grocery store now. This recipe is really fast to make too and makes a great weeknight dinner.




2. Canned fish– I always stock up on canned tuna and salmon when it’s on sale. Tuna is the one fish my toddler eats and it provides an easy and inexpensive protein option. I use it in pasta, salads and sandwiches with a bit of mayo and mustard or I make it into a tuna patty. I am also a huge fan of canned salmon because it is an affordable form of salmon and most canned salmon is wild salmon and provides a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids. I use it the same way as canned tuna. Check out my recipe for Salmon Cakes here.


3. Natural Peanut butter – we go through jars of peanut butter pretty quickly in my house so I always stock up when it's on sale.

4. Whole grains - Oats and other whole grains like barley, brown rice and whole wheat flour are always in my cupboard. I probably use oats the most and keep a mix of different types (quick oats, old-fashioned, and steel-cut) in my pantry. I use the quick and old-fashioned oats for baking and pancakes and steel-cut oats most often for breakfast. These Oatmeal Pancakes from the Dairy Farmers of Canada are one of my favourite recipes that use quick oats. Other grains like barley and brown rice are great for soups and stews or you can prepare them as a side dish with a bit of vegetable or chicken broth instead of water for extra flavour and then toss in some veggies and grated Parmesan cheese at the end.


5. Canned and dried beans and lentils – I keep of mix of canned and dried beans and lentils in my cupboard but recently have been keeping more of the dried. Both are inexpensive sources of plant-based protein with the dried version being a bit cheaper than the canned. Dried beans can be less convenient because you have to soak them overnight and then cook them but most varieties of lentils don’t require soaking first. I often put chickpeas into a tomato sauce or use beans and lentils for salads and soups.

6. Dried fruit – I love dried fruit, especially when I am craving a sweet snack. From some of my other posts you know I am a big prune fan but I also love dried figs and apricots and raisins are great for adding to oatmeal and baking. My daughter also loves raisins as a snack. Many types of dried fruit don’t contain any added sugar which is great.



7. Nuts – I often eat nuts and dried fruit together for a snack to keep me full longer than just the dried fruit alone would. Nuts provide healthy fats and a bit protein and help with satiety plus they just taste great and have a fairly long shelf life. Sometimes I do put them in the freezer if I have bought a lot of them to extend freshness and shelf life but nuts will last at least a couple months in the pantry (although mine rarely make it that long!).


8. No-Salt Vegetable and Chicken Broth – In the winter I tend to use a lot of broth for soups. Sometimes I make my own but realistically, there isn’t always time to do this so I rely on the prepackaged variety. I always opt for the no-salt variety so I can control how much salt and seasonings I add. This recipe for Tortellini Soup is one of go-to’s because it is a one-pot meal. I often make is without the pancetta and use frozen chopped spinach in place of fresh swiss chard.


9. Canned Tomatoes – Canned tomatoes are probably the only canned vegetable I buy and I always lots in the pantry. I use the pureed ones for tomato sauce (for pasta and pizza) and diced tomatoes are great for chili and soups.



10. Shelf-Stable Milks - This one may seem a bit odd but I like to keep skim milk powder in my pantry for recipes that use a lot of milk. It has a long shelf life (up to one year) and it is a good source of protein, calcium and Vitamin D. I most often use it in baked goods and pancakes when I am running low on regular milk but you can also use it in smoothies, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. While I have no problems with dairy, I also like almond milk for my oatmeal or with cold cereal and often have some in the cupboard as well. Again, this has a long shelf life so it is easy to stock up on.


In addition to these items I also like to keep different condiments and other shelf-stable foods that add tons of flavour like jars of olives, pesto, artichokes, capers, mustard and mayo, and lots of spices in my pantry.



So let’s all cross our fingers and hope that Covid19 doesn’t get too much worse but if it does, make sure you have a well stocked pantry so you can still prepare and eat healthy and delicious meals.

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Christina Iaboni, RD