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8 Foods to keep on hand for simple homemade meals

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

pantry and freezer staples

Tired of staring longingly into your fridge for the ingredients to make something that doesn't take hours (and a ton of dishes)? That's because you don't know our little secret for quality meals with less work — a kitchen stocked with our 10 favorite on-hand foods for quick and delicious homemade meals.
Homemade doesn't have to be hard
pantry and freezer staples

These foods are our fave pantry and freezer staples — not just for being easy and versatile, but because they're just as good as when they are made from scratch. With these secret weapons, irresistible meals will never be the same again, and you can spend more time enjoying the holidays with friends and family.

What makes a food a "staple"?

We chose our favorites by balancing simplicity and convenience, quality, shelf life and price. We like go-to foods that can be used in versatile and unique ways to create delicious sides, quick and easy meals and simple snacks. We also like foods that we can buy and forget... until we need them. And that means they have to last.

Quality frozen foods, canned goods and boxed mixes will sit patiently on the shelf until you need them, at which point they will help you create magnificent meals in a flash. We're not talking about salt, sugar and flour (though you should have those on hand, too). We're talking about real meal helpers.

These dynamos of the busy gal's kitchen can make your life easier after a tough day at work, get you through that last day before shopping and make you feel like Martha Stewart without going through all the trouble of making every little thing from scratch. We won't tell if you won't.

pantry and freezer staples

Now that you've stocked your pantry with all the ingredients you need to make great meals fast, try putting them to use with holiday recipes from Green Giant® like Turkey and Veggie Alfredo Pot Pie and Cheesy Broccoli Puffs with Sriracha Sauce.

Sources:, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Del Monte, EatByDate,, Google Shopping, Iowa Girl Eats, Green Giant,, Knorr, Macheesmo, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Model Bakery, Ore-Ida, Reader’s Digest, Serious Eats, Solar Eagle, StillTasty, Sweet Escape Pastries, The Simple Dollar, Tyson, Uncle Ben's

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Fresh vs. frozen: A kitchen-ista's guide
An expert weighs in: All about frozen foods
Quick, healthy dinners with canned chicken breast

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