15 Staples To Keep On Hand and Over 25 Dishes to Make With Them

I was making my grocery list the other day, and it dawned on me that many of the things I buy each trip are the same as the many trips before. At any given time, you’ll find these 15 items in my kitchen. These must-have staples ensure I’m always able to whip up something yummy.

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So, a little about this list.

I have listed 15 items that I stockpile in my kitchen. I buy butter 5-10 pounds at a time and keep 2 pounds in my fridge while the rest waits in my freezer. I buy chicken breasts 40 pounds at a time. It gets portioned into 2.5 – 3 pound baggies and put into the freezer. I only buy breasts, unless I find whole chickens on sale. I can’t stand dark meat.

I buy four two-packs of cream cheese every two weeks. We go through A LOT of cream cheese. I use it to make my low-carb bread, icing for cakes and cookies (not low-carb) that we use for tea parties. (Every Wednesday at 2:00 is tea party time)

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15 Staples To Keep On Hand

  • cream cheese
  • butter
  • milk
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • dry beans
  • rice
  • pasta
  • salsa
  • chicken
  • bacon
  • Rotel/canned tomatoes
  • frozen/fresh veg
  • fresh/frozen fruit
  • tortillas

*not included in this list are things like mayo, yeast, sugar, and other basic seasonings that in general, people already have in their panty/fridge

The list of meals contains links to the recipes I already have here on the site AND some that I haven’t gotten around to posting yet. Those have the ingredients and recipe written out.




egg casserole (scrambled eggs, fried eggs, yolky eggs, egg sandwiches)

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheese

Whisk everything together and add whatever extras you have on hand (cooked sausage/bacon, sauteed veggies, leftover baked potato . . . ) Cook at 350 for 30-40 minutes (covered for the first 15)

cinnamon rolls



  • Just throw some frozen fruit and some milk (any kind works) in a blender! I tend to use homemade yogurt for this, but it works either way!


Large Family Meal Planning on a Budget (Feeding 8 people on $150/week) With a Sample Menu


macaroni and cheese

  • 2 1/2 cups pasta
  • 3 cups milk
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheese

Mix everything except cheese in a large sauce pot. Cook over medium-high, stirring almost constantly until the pasta is tender (10-15 mins). Remove from heat and add cheese. Enjoy!

three cheese chicken pasta

  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 2 1/2 cups pasta
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pot, combine chicken uncooked pasta, milk, and seasonings. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and add all three kinds of cheese. You can eat it this way or top with a handful more of cheese and put it in a 9×13 and bake at 350 until cheese is bubbly and as brown as you like.

crockpot chicken parmesan


Melt cheese between some tortillas on a griddle or in a pan on the stove.

cheese pizzas (or veg pizza, or chicken pizza, or whatever you like pizza!)

homemade chicken nuggets

  • 3-4 chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil

Mix flour, salt, and garlic powder. Dip the chicken pieces into the milk, then the flour. Heat oil in a skillet until hot. Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side until done through. OR, butter a baking pan well adn oven fry these at 350 for about 20 minutes, flipping after the first 10,

salads (egg salad, cobb salad, chicken salad, regular salad!)


  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 10 tortillas

Mix together chicken, cheese, and salsa then spoon into warm tortillas

pizza pockets

Use the dough recipe found above for these. Or this one that I sometimes use to save time. Make individual size (6″ or so) pizzas, top one half with sauce and pizza toppings. Then fold the dough over and crimp with a fork. Cook at 375 for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.How to make a meal plan in four easy steps feat

slow cooker chicken and rice

  • 2 cups rice
  • 3 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 2 lbs raw chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp salt (more to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper

Place uncooked rice in the bottom of the crock and sprinkle it with salt. Pour the broth/water over the rice. Add your chicken and seasonings. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 3-4.


slow cooker Mexican rice

bbq chicken

Spread this quick homemade bbq sauce on your cooked chicken!

  • mix together 3/4 cup ketchup, 2 Tbsp minced onion, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp liquid smoke, 1 Tbsp molasses or honey in a pot and simmer for a few minutes. Boom. Done.

fiesta chicken

  • put some raw chicken and Rotel in the crock pot for a few hours until the chicken comes apart easily. Add cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder for extra spice.

I put this in burritos, over rice, on salad, in quesadillas, mix with cooked pintos and cheddar cheese to make a dip. The ideas with this basic Mexican chicken are limitless!!!

butter pasta

Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like. My kids love this and in a pinch, it’s a hero!

Cook your pasta (whatever kind you like) and after you’ve drained it, put a bit of olive oil on there to keep it from sticking. Spoon into individual bowls then add a pat of butter, some parmesan cheese, a smidge of garlic powder if you like and BAM dinner is served.


tortilla pizzas

By keeping these few items on hand, I’m always ready to create something yummy. Using the items listed, I can make complete meals, sides and all.

What items do you always keep on hand, just in case?

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