I don't use a lot of processed foods but there are times I need something convenient and quick in the pantry. These are also the kinds of foods that make a good emergency pantry ingredient. Especially if you have a way to boil water and heat the contents of cans.
Some foods are so obvious, I didn't show them. Such as peanut butter, canned tuna and chicken (mixed with mayo and more for a sandwich), cereal, canned soup, canned fruit, jerky, summer sausage, crackers, cheese, etc.
Three of my go-to instant (so to speak) foods are shown above.
Krusteaz Pancake Mix - I have a number of good pancake recipes I use off and on but sometimes what is needed is fast and easy. Especially in the morning. I learned about this brand a number of years ago on another blog and it is very good. This is a perfect pantry food because it already has everything in it... just add water.
Now, like any pre-mixed blends containing baking powder (cake mixes, biscuit mixes, Jiffy cornbread, etc.) these have a definite Use By date. I'd say you could go past a few months but no more. But by purchasing a size adequate for your family (the aforementioned blogger bought their huge family size box, I buy their regular size) and remembering to rotate new packages to the back and the oldest package to the front... there should be no problem with it going stale.
Canned Nuts - I don't eat many whole nuts. One of the affects of illness is my teeth getting softer! However, my husband could live on various nuts and sunflower seeds. His favorite sunflower seeds are purchased in a bag at Menards. No... not kidding.
But nuts and seeds are great for any pantry and especially an emergency pantry. One must, however, rotate often and even consider keeping those you don't eat quickly in the freezer. Nuts that come roasted and in a sealed container have a longer shelf life and do not need to be refrigerated or frozen.
Recently Kroger had their brand of roasted nuts on sale for $1.99 a can. I bought three... one for now and two for the pantry. I bought one of their regular salted tin and two of their Buttered Toffee peanuts (the latter can be crushed and used on ice cream).
Various kinds of nuts are purchased as we can afford. My favorite is pecans, which tend to be pricey so they are mostly purchased for recipes as needed. They are also nice and soft and easy to eat!
If one has nuts and dried fruit and perhaps a package of good milk chocolate chips in their pantry (some like M&Ms instead), they can put together trail mix for a delicious pantry recipe!
Starbucks Via Instant packets - Once upon a time, I would have told you there might be one small jar of instant coffee for an emergency on the level of The End of the World As We Know It. I can't stand instant coffee.
Then my son-in-law, the coffee
But he said the Via instant was "not too bad". Which means... from the guy who turns green looking at my canister of Maxwell House Original... that it is darn good for the rest of us. I tried it and loved it. Although not their pumpkin spice, it has an after taste and judging from Amazon comments, others feel the same way. Stick to original Starbucks coffee.
I have since found out that people who travel a lot carry Via packets with them to use instead of the usual hotel offerings in rooms.
They aren't cheap because they are good coffee. I have used part of a gift card off and on to buy a package (around $11.00 for a package of twelve). My favorite is the Blonde Blend because... ta da... that is my favorite Starbucks blend in everything (except what they use to make a pumpkin spice latte, which has to be dark). Blonde Blends are lighter than their original coffee. Via packets are available at Starbucks and most grocery stores in the U.S.
The Use By date is usually about a year out but I had a package hidden by other items on a shelf and tried it two years after the date. It was fine (they are individually packaged to retain freshness).
I keep them in my pantry for emergency situations and then use them around their Use By date if necessary. Or two years after. Just saying.
I'd love to know what your favorite "instant" foods are found in your pantry.