The Iglu Guide | Blog

What every student pantry needs

Whether you’re a seasoned student or you’re living independently for the very first time, fending for yourself in the kitchen can feel like a pretty daunting prospect. Not only are you responsible for getting all the food shopping – keeping a well-stocked pantry and ensuring you eat a balanced diet is now officially on you.

And with only so much money to go around, it’s important to think smart when you head to the supermarket. Here’s how to make sure your student pantry always has something to offer up for dinner.

Top tips

  • Shop with a specific list – Only ever buy what you know you need and never head to the shops when you are hungry. The supermarket is notorious for luring in unsuspecting students with amazing deals – but if it’s not on your list, it’s simply money wasted.
  • Bulk buy – If any of your staple items are available on a deal, take advantage and stock up!
  • Avoid wastage – Always keep an eye on expiry dates and make sure to use your pantry items in time.
  • Be prepared – Plan your meals each week. This way you can avoid panic purchases and make sure your diet stays balanced and nutritious.
  • Stick to your budget – Stay strong, but don’t feel guilty about splashing out now and again. Life is about the treats too!
  • Cook with friends – Share the costs and all the fun of cooking together.

Pantry Essentials

Unless you have dreams of becoming a pastry chef or running your own gourmet restaurant, student cooking needs to be tasty, cost-effective and accessible. Get your pantry stocked with these essential ingredients and you’ll never be short of a meal on the table.

Rice, pasta and noodles

Lifetime staples for every pantry, this versatile family of carbs are super easy to work with and well worth the trouble. Cheap, nutritious and filling, they are quick to prepare and make the perfect addition to any student meal plan. Keep it simple with traditional Italian pasta dishes or branch out into the adventure zone of curries, burritos and stir-fries. Mix with your favourite sauce, pair with your favourite protein or pop a portion into a can of soup for a delicious and nutritious lunch. The options are deliciously endless, and you’ll feel all the benefits of that slow-release energy across the day.


Versatile and nutritious, bread is a definite student pantry essential. Whether you prefer yours white, wholemeal, sourdough or rye, bread can turn up at any meal and make life a whole lot better. From vegemite on toast, to poached eggs and avo, the humble loaf is just as happy to be the main event as it is an innocent side show. Healthy, hearty and here to stay, it’s your best friend when you come home late at night and need that quick and easy fix.

Tinned tomatoes

Not so tasty as a solo item, tinned tomatoes are an absolute necessity when it comes to putting together some of those absolute student basics. From soups and pasta to curries and sauces, this simple staple can transform a meal. Always keep a stack of these in the cupboard, and make sure you have a tin opener to hand.

Canned beans and tuna

These items are great for bolstering up your meal with tasty protein and they definitely won’t break the budget in the process. Stock up on butter beans, chickpeas, black beans and chilli beans and add them freely to chilli, soup or curry. They make cooking surprisingly easy and are a tasty addition to most meals. Tuna is super handy to stir through any type of pasta or to use as a quick and healthy sandwich filling.

Stock cubes, olive oil and garlic

Light on the budget and easy to store, stock cubes can really change the flavour of a dish. They are used across a variety of meals from bolognese and soup through to casseroles and stews, and are usually available in chicken, beef or vegetable flavours. Flexible in use you can dissolve them with water, or simply add straight to the dish. Garlic always makes for a tasty addition and can easily elevate any meal. Crush it, chop it, slice it or bake it, it’s the little veg that packs a mighty punch. Try frying it slowly in olive oil and sit back as the magical smells make you the envy of the kitchen.

Onions and carrots

These important veggies form the backbone of many delicious meals and are well deserving of their place in the pantry. Peeled and sliced, you can use them to make soup, add to casseroles or combine in a stir-fry or pasta dish.

Coffee and tea

Australia is well-known for delicious coffee, but these precious beans can place quite a lot of pressure on the student budget. It’s good to treat yourself now and again, but keep a stock of instant coffee and teabags on hand in the pantry so that you’ve always got a caffeine fix at the ready when you need it.

Photo by Heather McKean on Unsplash

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