Ever have one of those "There's nothing in this house left to eat" nights? If you're like me, you end up going out to eat or ordering pizza, both of which are expensive. The best way to keep this from happening is to keep some staples in your pantry, so you're always prepared to make a meal, even on the last day before grocery shopping.

  1. Rice- Rice is versatile and very easy to make. Almost any spices, sauces, or canned soups can be added to rice to make a complete meal. It also lasts a long time, so it can stay on hand for a while without the concern of spoilage.
  2. Canned tuna- Another food that can be used in many ways. Depending on what else you have on hand, you can have tuna salad, tuna melts, or tuna casserole. Tuna is also very healthy for you.
  3. Biscuit mix- Bisquick is the favorite, of course, but any brand of biscuit mix will do. Everything from dessert, to main course, to sides can be made using biscuit mix.
  4. Potatoes- Even if all you have is potatoes, you can make baked potatoes or mashed potatoes. If you've got some dried milk as well, you can make potato soup. Or chop them up and add meat and other vegetables, and you have soup. The possibilities are seemingly endless.
  5. Jars of sauce- Choose whatever sauce you prefer. if nothing else, it can be added to some rice or pasta to make a delicious, filling, and cheap meal.
  6. Cereal- Just about anyone who has spent time as a broke college student understands why cereal is important. A bowl of cereal with milk makes a quick breakfast, lunch, dinner, or midnight snack, and even without milk it can always be eaten dry.
  7. Powdered milk- Can be used in many recipes, and also comes in handy if you ever run out of milk.
  8. Bread- can be used for a variety of sandwiches, for toast, or even how it is when you need something quick to eat.
  9. Instant pudding- If you ever need a quick snack, or have some unexpected company and need something to serve, instant pudding is simple, fast, and the only other ingredient you need is milk. And if you have dry milk on hand, even that is guaranteed.
  10. Onion soup mix- Can be used in many recipes, and works well for seasoning rice or meatloaf.
  11. Salsa- Makes for a nice snack for in front of the TV, and can also be used to add some flavor to many things, such as soups and rice.
  12. Chili powder- If you only have one spice on hand all the time, this should be it. Chili powder gives flavor to just about dinner you can make. Even basic soup can be made more flavorful with just a little bit of chili powder.
  13. Dried pasta- You need this for the same reason you need rice. It's the beginning of an easy meal, and almost anything you have can be added to pasta to make a casserole.
  14. Canned beans- Beans can be used in soup, or chili, or even as a meal by adding a little chili powder for flavor. Go with whatever beans you like.
  15. Flour- It's the beginning of bread, and can be used to make cakes, thicken soups, or even mixed with water to make paste in a pinch.

If you have some of everything listed here, you will have no problem finding something to eat if you ever start running low on groceries in the house. Even if you have all the food you could even need, these necessities will give you a great start for whatever you decide to make.