Food serves many purposes: nourishment, fuel, and tradition, to name a few. It’s also a way to bring people together, to exercise creativity, and to have deeply enriching sensory experiences. No matter how you spin it, though, humans need to eat—so why not do it in a way that brings you happiness and makes you feel good?
That’s our thinking behind SELF’s inaugural Pantry Awards, which highlights the tastiest, most pleasurable, and most joy-inducing items across three big categories: chips, crackers, bars, pretzels, and popcorn; sauces, spreads, and oils; and tinned, canned, and boxed goods. Our goal was to create a guide for stocking your pantry in a way that’s genuinely inspiring and that makes feeding yourself easier and more delightful. The result? 57 winners, which include crowd-pleasing snacks, tasty treats, and on-the-go options for super busy folks. We think all of them are good enough to become your new household staples.
We began our process by publishing guidelines to our site and letting brands and publicists know what types of items we were looking for. Once submissions were in, we narrowed down the list slightly, removing product categories that didn’t have enough contenders to warrant a fair judging on our part. (We want to be sure everything we recommend is truly the best amongst its peers.) We also focused on items that felt like they could be the building blocks of any pantry—foods you can use to make a wide variety of meals and snacks, no matter your palette, dietary needs, or audience.
Then, we got to testing. Our group of 40 testers, consisting of registered dietitians, home cooks, and SELF editors, tried 415 items over the course of a month, reviewing each one based on taste, ease of use, packaging (as in, does it tip over and create a huge mess in your pantry?), satisfaction, and overall experience. Ultimately, we wanted to know: Did the item spark joy? Is it so good that you’d recommend it to a friend? The 57 winners are the items that came out on top, highly rated and raved about by our testers.
We could have announced our favorite snacks and called it a day, but why stop there? We took it a step further and are publishing a handful of pantry- and kitchen-related articles that you can read here. After reading these stories, you’ll be better equipped to clean out your pantry, figure out a way to keep it organized, and then replenish your stock with an inspiring and exciting shopping list, which you can peruse from the comfort of your couch. We also asked an RD to create some new recipes utilizing some of our Pantry Award–winning products, so don’t miss her ideas for throw-together meals for when you’re tired or running late. And if you’re someone who loves snacks that feel kinda fancy, don’t miss this list of the Pantry Award winners we think are perfect for parties, picnics, or just leveling up your cheeseboard-for-dinner game.