In an economy that can make it difficult getting to the grocery store, I suggest stocking your pantry with basic dry goods that will allow you to be able to cook almost anything, even on a tight budget. A well stocked pantry will also allow you to make adjustments in recipes for everything from substitutions to extra people showing up for dinner.
Base ingredients are the items needed most commonly in recipes such as:
Sugar; granulated, brown, and powdered
Milk; powdered or dry milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk
Broth; canned and dry bullion- chicken, pork, beef, and vegetable
Dried foods are items that can be reconstituted with water or other liquids.
Dried fruit; apples, bananas, pears, raisins, cranberries
Dried vegetables; peas, beans, onions, carrots, celery
Meats; jerky, salted meats like beef, chicken, turkey, and pork
Rice; long grain, minute, and basmati
Bread; crumbs, cubes, stuffing
Canned goods can be a lifesaver when times are hard. While I believe in canning your own if you have the know-how, time, space, and an availability of product to can, store bought can goods will fill the need.
Can vegetables; assorted based on family preferences
Can fruits; assorted based on family preferences
Can soups; cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, tomato, chicken noodle, and other assorted types based on family preferences
Tomatoes; sauce, paste, diced, stewed, whole
Meats; tuna, chicken, Spam, ham
Additionals are items you should keep in your pantry but do not necessarily fall under any other category. These are items that will help you stretch leftovers, work for quick fixes, and can be useful for things other than eating.
Oils; vegetable, olive
Shortening; vegetable, butter
Gelatin (powdered); unflavored, assorted flavors
Chocolate; semi-sweet chips, unsweetened bars, cocoa powder
Nuts; walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and assorted according to family preferences
Cereal; corn flakes, puffed wheat and rice, and assorted family preferences
Crackers; saltines, graham
Coffee; whole bean, ground, instant
Tea; black, peppermint, chamomile, and assorted flavors according to family preferences
Preserves; assorted jams and jellies
Peppermint; dried leaves, starlight mints, hard tack
Wine; red, white
The items listed here have long shelf lives and can be used for a multitude of purposes including easing common ailments such as headaches, stomach aches, and fevers. Having a well stocked pantry is not only a wise decision financially for stretching the budget but also serves in emergency situations that arise from natural events like earthquakes and storms and from manmade event like the loss of public utilities. Whatever the situation it helps to be prepared and an easy place to start is with your pantry.