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Pantry stocked with food

With the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), it is important to be prepared to face any challenge. The Department of Homeland Security recommends storing a two week supply of food and beverages in preparation for a pandemic (https://www.ready.gov/pandemic).

Although widespread power and water outages are not currently expected, the best way to prepare is by keeping shelf-stable foods on hand.

Many shelf-stable foods are high in saturated fat and have added sugar and sodium (salt). These elements can lead to chronic disease and worsen existing symptoms. Knowing which shelf-stable foods can promote good health will help you prepare to feed your family a healthy, balanced diet while you are at home for an extended time.

Healthy Shelf-Stable Foods

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Canned fruit in 100% fruit juice
  • Canned vegetables with low or reduced salt
  • Dried or dehydrated fruits with no added sugar
  • Unsweetened applesauce or fruit pouches
  • Jelly or jam with low sugar or no added sugar


The healthiest grains list whole grain as the first ingredient.

  • Whole grain bread, pasta and crackers
  • Plain or multigrain oat circles cereal
  • Whole-grain wheat, corn or rice squares cereal
  • Plain oatmeal: regular, quick or instant
  • Brown or wild rice
  • Corn tortillas
  • Pretzels or popcorn with low or reduced salt
  • Granola bars
  • Graham crackers


  • Shelf-stable lean meats, such as tuna and chicken packaged in water
  • Dried beans, peas or lentils
  • Canned beans labeled low or reduced salt
  • Peanut butter and other nut butters
  • Seeds or nuts labeled unsalted, low or reduced salt


  • Bottled water
  • Shelf-stable plain, low fat or skim milk (powdered or ultra-pasteurized)
  • Shelf-stable unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • 100% fruit juice
  • 100% vegetable juice labeled low or reduced salt


  • Cornmeal
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Cooking oil (olive, canola, vegetable)
  • Spices with low or no salt
  • Spaghetti sauce labeled low or reduced salt
  • Canned soups or chili with low or reduced salt
  • Broth labeled low or reduced salt
  • Low fat condiments

Recipes Using Shelf-Stable Foods

Southwestern Chicken and White Bean Soup

Serves 6 (serving size: 1 cup)


  • 1 can white beans, 16 ounces, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or 2 cans chicken, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cans low sodium chicken broth, 14 ounces
  • ½ cup green salsa


Place beans in small bowl, and mash with fork. Coat chicken with taco seasoning. Coat large pan with cooking spray. Over medium heat, add chicken to pan, and cook 2 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned. Add broth, beans and salsa. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture is thick. Remove and serve.

Grandma’s Macaroni Salad

8 servings


  • 1 8-ounce package elbow macaroni, cooked, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tomatoes, diced or 1 can diced tomatoes, 15 ounces, drained
  • ½ cup onion, diced (if frozen, thaw first)
  • 4 dill pickles, diced
  • 1 can salmon or tuna, 5 ounces, drained
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill before serving.

5 Ingredient Black Bean and Salsa Soup

6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced, or 1 cup frozen onion, diced
  • 2 cans black beans, 15 ounces, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jar prepared salsa, 16 ounces
  • 1 can low sodium chicken broth


In a pot over medium heat, add oil and onions. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until onions are soft. Add beans, salsa and broth. Turn heat to medium high, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes.

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