Top Pantry Staples from YOU – Our Freebs

We asked and you delivered. Today, we've got the top pantry staples from our loyal followers… AKA Freebs!

Stock your pantry with these staples so that you can always shelf cook - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

It wouldn't be #Shelftember and shelf cooking month if we weren't all focused on cooking with what we have in our refrigerators, freezers and pantries! (If you're not sure what I'm talking about, then make sure that you check out THIS post to catch up so that you can keep up with us the rest of the month.)

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I get a lot of questions from those who are just starting out on how you can shelf cook if you don't keep your kitchen stocked with food. While you do have to keep certain pantry staples stocked, you don't have to constantly eat the same things all of the time. We polled the Freebs in our Shelf Cooking Community and they gave us their favorite pantry staples that they always keep on hand. (Check out the post to see what they all said!) Are you ready to see if your favorites made the list? Let's do it!

The Freebs that we polled were so helpful to me in writing this post! So if that was you, thank you!!! It was really fun reading through all of your favorite pantry staples and the ways that you use them. While we got a TON of responses, there were two items that really stood out from the rest. Can you guess what they were?

TOP PANTRY STAPLES

If you guessed rice and pasta, then you were spot on! A grand total of 460 Freebs voted these as their top pantry staples. Crazy, huh? Read on to learn what your favorite uses are.

RICE

Rice is one of those pantry staples that will pretty much go with anything! It's a great way to stretch a meal, especially if you have some ravenous teenagers (or toddlers!) in the house.

Rice is a great pantry staple to keep on hand - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

FREEBS' FAVORITE WAYS TO USE RICE

  • Sweet rice (rice with butter, sugar, and milk)
  • Chicken and rice casserole
  • Stir fry
  • Risotto
  • Use it to bulk up any soup
  • Fried rice
  • Wild rice soup

Pro Tip: Use a rice cooker or Instant Pot to cook your rice quicker if it needs to be cooked before going into a recipe.

PASTA

Oh pasta, you are my love language! I think that it's safe to say that you're the love language of many Freebs, too! This pantry staple is another one that will go with just about anything and it's cheap and easy to keep on hand.

FREEBS' FAVORITE WAYS TO USE PASTA

  • Spaghetti
  • Pasta salad
  • Pasta and cheese
  • Lasagna
  • Baked ziti
  • Alfredo
  • Goulash
  • Chicken noodle soup

PASTA SAUCE

A lot of Freebs either keep canned pasta sauce on hand as it pairs naturally with pasta. It's a pantry staple that is pretty cheap to stock up on and can go in lots of different things!

Pasta sauce can be used in a lot of recipes - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

FREEBS' FAVORITE WAYS TO USE PASTA SAUCE

  • Ravioli
  • Pizza
  • Spaghetti soup
  • Dip for homemade cheesy bread
  • Ratatouille
  • Chicken parmigiana

Pro Tip: Pasta sauce is basically canned tomato sauce and some seasonings, so stock up on tomato sauce and you can easily make your own pasta sauce in a pinch!

CANNED TOMATOES AND TOMATO PASTE

Tomatoes are another pantry staple that a lot of Freebs keep on hand! Whether they're canned tomatoes, or tomato paste or sauce, there are so many different recipes that you can make with them!

FREEBS' FAVORITE WAY TO USE TOMATOES

  • Mexican rice
  • Homemade pasta sauce
  • Chili
  • Taco soup
  • Tomato soup

BEANS

Whether they're canned or whole, beans are good for so many things! Eat them plain, add them to meat to bulk up the meal, add them to a soup…

Beans are a great protein to keep stocked in your pantry - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

Those are just a few of the reasons that beans are one of the top pantry staples for the Freebs!

FREEBS' FAVORITE WAYS TO USE BEANS

  • Beans and rice
  • Refried beans
  • Black bean quesadillas
  • Bean and egg burritos or bowls
  • Chili
  • Enchiladas
  • Bean salad

CREAM OF CHICKEN/MUSHROOM SOUP

These soups are so good to have on hand. They go with pretty much anything and can really help to take a few ingredients from being a random assortment of items to a casserole in no time!

FREEBS' FAVORITE WAYS TO USE CREAMY SOUPS

  • Chicken pot pie (a great use for leftover chicken noodle soup!)
  • Green bean casserole
  • Creamy chicken bake
  • Shepherd's pie
  • Chicken and rice soup
  • Creamy beef stroganoff

Pro Tip: It is beyond easy to make your own cream of chicken soup if you keep broth on hand – just add milk, flour and a little seasoning! Which is another of our Freebs' favorites (keep scrolling ;)) Genius! Right!?

CANNED OR FROZEN VEGGIES

These are an obvious pantry staple! They're great to have by themselves as a side or added to a recipe.

FREEBS' FAVORITE WAYS TO USE CANNED VEGGIES

  • Minestrone soup
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Chicken tortilla soup
  • Cornbread
  • Lentil soup
  • White chicken chili

BROTH OR STOCK

Whether it's beef, chicken, or vegetable, broth and stock are great pantry staples to keep on hand! Just buy the biggest carton (or whatever is cheapest) that you can find if you use it a lot. Just make sure that you refrigerate it after opening so that it doesn't go bad!

Broths are great to keep on hand to make an easy casserole in a pinch - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

FREEBS' FAVORITE WAYS TO USE BROTH/STOCK

  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Casseroles
  • Stew
  • Homemade ramen noodles
  • Gumbo
  • Bean chowder

Pro Tip: I like to buy Better Than Bouillon from Costco, it's amazing and lasts a while!

OATMEAL

Oatmeal is such a versatile pantry staple! It can either be eaten on it's own or go into making other recipes.

FREEBS' FAVORITE WAYS TO USE OATMEAL

  • Oatmeal with cinnamon, frozen fruits, chocolate chips or PB powder
  • Energy bites
  • Meatballs
  • Pancakes
  • Overnight oats
  • Homemade granola
  • Flourless banana bread

CANNED MEATS

Canned chicken, tuna, salmon, ham and beef are all great ways to keep meat on hand without having to worry about the electricity going out and your meat getting ruined! These pantry staples are so versatile and can go in a lot of different meals.

FREEBS' FAVORITE WAYS TO USE CANNED MEATS

  • Chicken/Tuna/Salmon salad or sandwiches
  • Taco salad
  • Tuna/Salmon patties
  • Scrambled eggs with ham
  • Jambalaya
  • Enchiladas

Pro Tip: If you're cooking the canned meats in a recipe, make sure that you don't add it in until the very end. Your goal is to heat it up, not cook it and dry it out!

Alright, well there you have it! The top 10 pantry staples according to you fabulous Freebs. If you're just getting started, you might find that these are excellent staples to build up in your pantry so that you can shelf cook like a pro!

Don't forget to let me know what your favorite staples are in the comments!

Keep these top pantry staples in stock - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

For a more comprehensive list of what to stock in your pantry, check out my pantry staples post on my shelf cooking site!

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