Must-have pantry staples


By Natalie Beddows, Third Year, English

You may ask yourself why you need to buy all these pantry staples but part of university life is about having food that lasts, is cheap and tastes good, which is why it is important to keep your cupboards full of these cooking essentials.

You can buy these essentials in bulk which will be cheaper in the long-term and you will never run out!  This comes in handy when cooking with friends as there will be plenty in the cupboards to make meals together.

Plus, having stocked-up cupboards is definitely useful when it comes to emergencies, such as if you cannot get to the shops for some reason, you are in a rush, or if you’re in lockdown/isolation!

Pantry staples can be split into different categories to help make buying items easier:

Cooking essentials

Phoebe Ransom / Epigram
  • Oil (see column on oils!)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs and spices (select your favourites and ones that can be used across meals!)
  • Plain flour (for baking and thickening things such as stews)
  • Stock cubes/powders/frozen/homemade

Tinned foods (that will basically last forever!)

  • Tinned tomatoes (can be used as a base for soups, curries and pasta sauces)
  • Beans.  N.B. Even better value-for-money is if you buy dried beans/pulses – just a little more planning needed for soaking prior to use!
  • Other tinned pulses for instant protein (such as chickpeas)
  • Tinned vegetables (or frozen vegetables which will both last longer than fresh vegetables)
  • Soups


  • Soy sauce (add to any savoury dish for a richer flavour)
  • Favourite salad dressings/oils to make your own
  • Marmite (for toast of course but can also be used in sauces and stews for richness and flavour)

Dry carbs

Phoebe Ransom / Epigram
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Oats
  • Bread/flours

Fresh staples

  • Butter
  • Vegetables (key ones such as onions, potatoes and similar for main types of dishes)
  • Meat (can be brought from a butcher to reduce cost, also freeze on the same day as buying so that it will last)


  • Garlic puree (tubed lasts a lot longer than fresh garlic, it also won’t sprout in the fridge!)
  • UHT milk (much cheaper than fresh milk and is really good for plant-based options)
  • Tea bags and coffee

There are many shops all over Bristol which are great for buying pantry staples. Bristol has lots of great options for bulking up on pantry staples.

Phoebe Ransom / Epigram

Smaller Footprints (Clifton) is a zero-waste shop that is perfect for buying all your cupboard fillers! It is much cheaper than usual and considerably better for the environment because you take your own containers to fill!

Scoop (Whiteladies Road) takes the same idea and has a bigger variety of options!

Better Foods (number of shops across Bristol) is a slightly pricier option but also stocks fresh pantry staples, such as fruit, vegetables and milk, as well as dry options too!

Phoebe Ransom / Epigram

Reg the Veg (Clifton) is the ideal place to stock up on fruit and vegetables while keeping the price low with a 10% student discount.

As well as this, tinned foods can be picked up very cheap from larger supermarkets, such as the giant Sainsburys next to Clifton Down Station, which tend to be cheaper than the smaller corner shops.

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Also, pre-planning meals always helps when it comes to buying pantry staples. For example, you could gather the ingredients for a small number of your favourite meals.

With some basic dishes, such as vegetable curry or Bolognese, you can keep the staples in the cupboard and even cook big batches to then put into the freezer for a future meal! Don’t forget to stock up on some good reusable food containers for storage

Featured Image: Phoebe Ransom / Epigram