How to stock up an emergency food pantry

In this post, I have shared tips on how to stock up an emergency food pantry and easy recipes with shelf-stable ingredients.


Hello everyone, hope you are well and keeping your loved ones safe, well-fed and healthy.

Amid the Novel Coronavirus public health crisis, closures, travel restrictions and self-quarantine measures, things are changing every day. Now that the COVID-19 has been officially labeled a pandemic, let us stay calm, do the right things to keep ourselves and those around us safe and most importantly, my friends, ignore misinformation and stop it from spreading.

Many of you would already be staying at home or working from home. Let’s make it worthwhile by cooking simple healthy dishes with pantry staples?

‘Quarantine’ doesn’t always mean you have to survive only on instant noodles or ready-to-eat food. Today’s situation requires us to cook and eat NUTRIENT-DENSE healthy dishes more than ever. Also, cooking with family can be THERAPEUTIC and the best way to de-stress. This is the time to get creative in your kitchen with limited supplies.

I have put together some STAPLES that you can STOCK UP, tips on how to store them and some delicious recipes using simple ingredients. I have also given tips to cook with whatever ingredients you have. Keep your pantry, refrigerator and freezer pandemic-ready. Let’s be PREPARED but not to the extent of panic-buying and wasting food.

1. legumes

DRIED BEANS and LENTILS top my list.


kidney beans

mung beans

red lentils

brown lentils

black lentils

yellow lentils

and the list goes on. They are quite filling, delicious, chockful of nutrients, and so versatile that you can cook so many dishes- curries, soups, spread, salads, fritters, or just roasted with simple seasoning. And they keep for months or even up to a year. Just store them in airtight containers away from moisture.

pantry staples for emergency

chickpea curry soup

This soup recipe uses pantry staples and a homemade spice mix that can be easily prepared.

emergency tip: if you don’t have the spices, substitute the spice mix with 2 teaspoons of curry powder/sambar powder and 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala with salt and pepper.

Get the recipe >>

hearty chickpea curry soup served in three ceramic bowls

lentil curry/ dal with spinach

A quick and easy lentil curry or dahl with spinach that needs no curry powder or coconut, yet full of flavor.

emergency tip: frozen spinach can be used as a sub for fresh spinach.

Get the recipe >>

lentil curry with spinach and a bowl of rice and parathas

Want more recipes with beans and lentils?

2. rice and pasta

Our favorite CARBS are always comforting, more so in these troubled times. Add some BROWN RICE and WHOLE WHEAT PASTA to the list so you add some whole grains to your diet.

creamy pasta with chickpeas and spinach

A vegan pasta using chickpeas, spinach and nuts, this is a simple healthy pasta that looks and tastes gourmet.

emergency tip: use frozen spinach or any frozen vegetable as substitutes for fresh vegetables. If you’re not a vegan, feel free to use regular whole milk as a sub for almond milk.

Get the recipe >>

creamy pasta with spinach, roasted cherry tomatoes and chickpeas

pasta salad with mint yogurt dressing

made with humble vegetables, pasta and feta, this pretty pasta salad can be easily prepared and assembled by kids.

emergency tip: Tastes equally good with any added salad vegetable.

Get the recipe >>

pasta salad with mint yogurt dressing

lemon rice recipe with brown rice

This simple rice recipe uses simple pantry ingredients and frozen edamame.

emergency tip: feel free to use whatever vegetable you have on hand that can be stir-fried. The brown rice can be swapped with white rice. The important ingredients that you can’t skip here are ginger, turmeric and lemon – crucial as anti-oxidants and immune boosters, in addition to adding big flavors.

Get the recipe >>

lemon rice recipe with brown rice, soy beans and carrots in a ceramic bowl

3. vegetables

Onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, beets, cabbage, potatoes and sweet potatoes are some of the vegetables that last long. Stock up on frozen vegetables. They keep for months and can be used for curries, stir-fries, steamed, boiled or roasted.

no mayo coleslaw

This homemade no-mayo coleslaw with crunchy cabbage and carrots that uses healthy, nutritious Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, along with simple ingredients like mustard and lemon is also easy to make.

emergency tip: If unavailable, skip the purple cabbage and carrot and use regular ones.

Get the recipe >>

no mayo coleslaw in a black ceramic

cream of cabbage soup

This cream of cabbage soup has no real “cream” which makes it healthy and nutritious and also easy to make.

Get the recipe >>

closeup view of cream of cabbage soup in a black ceramic bowl

4. fruits

frozen berries, mangoes, and bananas can be used in smoothies. Dried fruits are also great options for breakfast with granola, yogurt, and cereal.

avocado mango smoothie

Have a healthy BREAKFAST that is also filling and delicious with just 4 ingredients. Keeps for a couple of days in the fridge since it is dairy-free.

emergency tip: no avocados? sub with frozen berries or bananas.

Get the recipe >>

5. eggs

Eggs are packed with nutrients, easy to cook and bake, keep well and so tasty!

omelet with turmeric and vegetables

The perfect omelet loaded with the goodness of vegetables, turmeric, and cheese for a yummy and healthy KETO BREAKFAST. An easy, delicious way to sneak in vegetables into your breakfast.

Get the recipe >>

close-up view of omelet with vegetables and turmeric

frittata with zucchini and brown rice

a brunch recipe that’s delicious and filling and takes minimum effort.

Get the recipe >>

slices of easy frittata with brown rice and zucchini on a serving boad

6. fermented food

Yogurt can be stored in the refrigerator longer than milk and tofu stays fresh for even a month or two if chilled. Use them for sauces and soups as extra source of protein.

easy yogurt sauce

emergency tip: use the yogurt dip recipe from the simple fish cakes for anything from veggie sticks to roasted meat.

Get the recipe >>

simple fish cakes with yogurt dip

quick and easy braised tofu

Get the recipe >>

7. nuts and seeds



pumpkin seeds

sunflower seeds

They come in handy even when your refrigerator is almost empty. They can be used to make sauces, dips, to bulk up curries and soups or roasted and eaten as snacks.

nut-free pesto sauce

emergency tip: substitute almonds or cashews for sunflower seeds and basil, parsley or cilantro for mint.

Get the recipe >>

8. herbs and spices

A handful of herbs and spices goes a long way in adding flavor. Always keep stock of DRIED HERBS like






and SPICES like paprika, cumin, chili, coriander, turmeric powder, garam masala, chaat masala.

In today’s situation, turmeric, ginger and garlic are essential for their immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. I will soon be posting recipes with these gems.

If you need to store FRESH HERBS in the fridge for more than 4-5 days the best way is to FREEZE them: Wash, pat dry, chop, mix with olive oil and freeze in icecube trays. Best used to liven up salads, marinades, sauces, dressings and much more.

frozen herbs and olive oil in ice cube tray

In addition to these, ensure that you have stock of garlic powder, ginger powder, onion powder (in case you run out of fresh ones).

You can also use these in combination with herbs and spices to create different seasonings and marinades. Use them for roasting vegetables, meat or fish.

close-up view of roasted cauliflower and eggplant

Please let me know in the comments section if you want the recipe for this roasted cauliflower and eggplant.

sauces, fats and condiments

soy sauce

chili sauce

oyster sauce



sesame oil

olive oil

coconut oil

sunflower oil

You can cook up a delicious Asian stir-fry with soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and chili sauce. Try this easy soy chicken. emergency tip: use any canned meat for this recipe.

Can’t find TOMATO SAUCE? Make your own from this recipe for angel hair pasta with shrimps and tomato sauce.

The list is not exhaustive, but I have included what I have stocked in my pantry and refrigerator that you need to cook easy, healthy and tasty meals for a few weeks.

Hope you find this useful. Stay safe and healthy!

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