First Things First: Setting up Your New Pantry

Moving is the perfect time to take stock of which non-perishable foods you want in your brand-new pantry. Here are five tips to get you started.  

Minimize Before you Move 

This is a perfect opportunity to go through your pantry and weed out anything not worth packing. Are there spices or condiments you’ve only used one or two times? A bag of rice that’s a year or more old? Bulky canned goods that are better left behind? Space — and weight — is at a premium during a move. Often, it’s smarter to simply restock new pantry items once you get to your new space.  

Many of our mover agents participate in the Move For Hunger program that lets customers donate unopened, non-perishable food items that are within their expiration dates. Ask your agent about joining us in this effort or visit the Move For Hunger website to learn about upcoming community food drives in your area. 

Prepare Your Empty Pantry 

While your new pantry shelves are empty, give them a thorough cleaning. Next, it’s time to ensure that items will be stored correctly. Since the enemies of food storage are air, moisture, light and pests, be sure any pantry essentials consist of airtight bottles, cans and sealed containers. These don’t need to be fancy or pretty; it’s more important that they are practical and work in your available space. 

Stock the Basics First 

A well-stocked pantry should have all the nonperishable, go-to items you need for general-purpose meal-making, baking, and seasoning. What follows is not intended to be comprehensive, but a general guideline. If you have special dietary needs, restrictions or principles, your panty may feature different items. Among the unopened, shelf-stable staples to consider are: 

Items With a Long Shelf Life: 

  • Canned goods, such as tomatoes, tuna, soup, and pet food 
  • All-purpose flour 
  • Baking powder, flour, and baking soda  
  • Rice 
  • Dried pasta 
  • Boxed cookies and crackers 
  • Vegetable and olive oil  
  • Non-stick cooking spray 
  • Oats and ready-to-eat cereals 
  • Coffee and tea 
  • Snacks like pretzels, chips, and popcorn 

Always check expiration dates for the above and replenish as needed. 


  • Granulated, confectioner’s and brown sugar 
  • Maple syrup 
  • Honey or agave 


  • Barbecue sauce  
  • Ketchup  
  • Mustard  
  • Jam, jelly or preserves  
  • Mayonnaise  


So exactly how long do spices last? It’s really a matter of whether they still look and smell fresh. As a rule, whole spices generally stay fresh for about four years, ground spices for between two-and-three and dried herbs for one-to-three years. Salt in all its forms is an exception: it essentially stays fresh forever.  

Prepare for Emergencies, Too 

It’s always wise to have additional emergency supplies in your pantry in case of a power failure, a weather-related emergency or even a health issue that would make shopping difficult. According to the U.S. Government Website, you should store at least a several-day supply of non-perishable foods that your family will eat — and that consider any special dietary needs. Their list includes the following: 

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables 
  • Protein or fruit bars 
  • Dry cereal and/or granola 
  • Peanut butter 
  • Dried fruit 
  • Canned juices 
  • Mon-perishable, pasteurized milk 
  • High-energy foods, such as nuts 
  • Infant and/or baby food  
  • Comforting snacks 

Oh, and don’t forget to have a non-electric can opener and flashlight with unused, extra batteries on hand. 

Enjoy the Process 

Think of your move as an opportunity to — literally — get a “fresh start” by stocking up on pantry supplies for your new space. Use the above recommendations, but feel free to create your own list of pantry essentials. Remember it’s all part of making your house your home. 

Be sure to check out our other blogs for moving tips, packing advice, city guides and a wealth of other information to help you settle in.  

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