How to Stock Your Pantry on a Budget
Get tons of ideas for pantry essentials and pantry organizing for the home cook. Learn about the staple items that can help anyone whip up a healthy and homemade dinner for their families. And yeah, there’s some chocolate too.
If freezer and pantry organizing gets you hot, pour a glass of wine, slip into something a little more comfortable, and let’s go. Organizing voyeurism abounds in this post! If it isn’t your thing (yet), no worries. Just don’t let your “pantries” get in a bunch. 🙂
There are few things more terrifying than realizing you have no idea what to make for dinner. Or lunch. Or breakfast.
Well, rats with tiny hatchets are more terrifying. No questions. I would take meal planning over rats any day. :shudder:
There are loads of meals that can be made on the fly (related: 20-Minute Dinner Recipes), but in order to be flexible with your cooking, you need to have staples on hand. A well-stocked pantry is like an insurance policy or a fire extinguisher; break open in case of emergency.
It is easy to get a bug up your butt and rush out and buy a bunch of new stuff for your cupboards and pantry. I recommend a slower approach because it will make you focus on what you really need. And it can be done in a frugal manner that doesn’t blow your grocery budget. You do have a grocery budget, right? 🙂
So many of the ingredients below can be used for all of these Pantry Staples You Can Make Yourself.
How to Stock Your Pantry On a Budget
Pull everything out of your pantry or cupboard. Everything. Scrub down the shelves, and dust out the cobwebs. Then take a good hard look at what you have, and commit to making one or two meals per week for the next three weeks out of what you found.
Fresh ingredients can be added of course, but really dig deep and get creative with the dishes. Set aside the money you would have spent on new groceries, and at the end of the month, you should have a small nest egg for rebuilding what you need.
If you need any help with random ingredient ideas, you can actually search my recipe archives by ingredient! Just click that link and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Two affordable and convenient ways to add essentials to your pantry are using online services like Amazon and Thrive. Both deliver to your house in about two days, and their prices are extremely competitive!
I also love Azure Standard for their huge selection of food and home goods. Check out this Azure Standard shopping list for a full rundown.
What you should stock really comes down to what you and your family actually eat. Below is a list of what is in our pantry, but it likely won’t fit everyone’s needs – especially if you adhere to a special diet like Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, etc.
Pantry Essentials – Baking Essentials
- Bread flour
- All-purpose flour
- Whole wheat flour (pastry and bread) (related: Honey Wheat Bread)
- Coconut Flour
- Almond Flour
- Arrowroot powder (for many of our Whole30 Recipes)
- Baking powder, in bulk
- Excellent cocoa powder I get in bulk at a local store
- Dried/powdered milk (we use it for these Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits)
- Baking soda
- Chocolate chips (related: The Softest Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies and Air Fryer Cookies)
- Vanilla Extract (related: Homemade Vanilla Extract)
- Vital wheat gluten (to be used with whole wheat flours)
- Organic sugar
- Organic brown sugar (related: How to Make Brown Sugar)
- Old fashioned oats
- Nutritional yeast (so good on popcorn!)
Pantry Essentials – Liquids/oils/sauces
- Coconut oil
- Avocado Oil
- Olive oil
- Worcestershire sauce
- Soy sauce
- Coconut Aminos
- Sesame oil
- Sweet chili sauce
- Hot sauce (Siracha, green Tabasco, Korean chili paste, and Yin Yang)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Brown rice syrup
- Lyles Golden Syrup
- Rice vinegar
- Rice wine vinegar
- Raw honey
- Canned coconut milk
- Peanut butter
- Maple Syrup (the real stuff)
- Almond butter (related: Homemade Cinnamon Almond Butter)
- Collagen (I put it in Blended Iced Coffee)
Pantry Essentials – Grains/Proteins/Misc.
- Beans (dried) – black, pinto, white, kidney, garbanzo. And a few cans of ready to eat black beans. Dried beans are really cheap, but canned beans are still dang cheap, and ready to go!
- Popcorn (related: How to Pop Popcorn Without a Popper)
- Lentils (related: Instant Pot Lentil Soup)
- Pasta – spaghetti, rotini, penne, and dried mini cheese ravioli from Trader Joes that improve almost any soup they are added to. And we always have some gnocchi on hand for Fried Gnocchi and Veggies and Copycat Olive Garden Gnocchi Soup (need a dairy-free version? Check out Dairy-Free Chicken and Gnocchi Soup)
- Broth/stock (related: Turkey Bone Broth, Where to Buy Bone Broth and How to Make Chicken Bone Broth)
- Pecans (related: Stovetop Candied Pecans)
- Quinoa (related: Zesty Instant Pot Quinoa)
- Sesame seeds (for Addicting Garlic Hummus and Pesto Chicken and Cauliflower)
- Sunflower seeds
- Hemp hearts (I use them in Paleo Muesli and Crunchy Salad Toppers)
- Rice (we love it in Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Rice, Leftover Turkey Casserole With Rice and Instant Pot Tortilla Soup)
- Various cereals for snacks (related: Paleo Muesli)
- Onions. Always onions.
- Garlic. So much garlic. (related: How to Grow Garlic)
- Potatoes – russet, gold, and sweet
- Canned artichoke hearts
- Canned tomatoes (related: Canning Whole Tomatoes and Whole30 Tomato Soup)
- Dates! I always have them and use them in lots of recipes.
Pantry Essentials – Snacks
- Organic goldfish (stupid expensive and not at Costco, but picky Jack prefers them to bunnies)
- Dried apples (related: How to Make Dried Apples)
- A bin of various snacks that are odds and ends of goodie bags from school parties, sports, and purchased stuff, etc.
- Tea. Not really a snack, but I have a lot of it.
- Misc. snacks (related: Homemade snack recipes)
I also have to keep my (kinda dirty looking) Instant Pot in the pantry. My tiny 1970’s kitchen just doesn’t have space for it. But, it’s easy enough to grab and I use it at least five times a week!
And while you can’t actually eat this essential, I find a good music playlist to be so important in the kitchen! Check out my Cooking and Clean Jams Playlist on Spotify. It’s free!
What is the one item you could never be without in your pantry/cupboards?
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