Baking your own bread, canning home-grown tomatoes and using the leftover lard for frying foods instead of butter.
When I think of the term “Pantry Staples” it reminds me of the days during the Great Depression that I’ve only heard about from my grandmother.
The truth is that while those things will certainly save you money, in today’s day and age there are less complicated ways to save money.
Keeping your pantry well stocked with the basic ingredients will not only help you save money on your overall grocery bill but also allow you to make quick and easy meals at home.
When you have simple meal ingredients on hand in your pantry you’ll be less tempted to stop off at a fast food restaurant for dinner because you know you have the easy supplies to make a meal at home for much less.
I spoke about this topic on my Savings Segment on Fox. Watch the replay video here:
While your family will need to stock the pantry staples that you use most often, I thought that putting together a list of my own cheap pantry staples would also help you.
Here is a list of some of our pantry staple items that we keep on hand that’ll help you make cheap meals in a matter of minutes.
1. Bouillion Paste
For years I overlooked this little gem of an ingredient. For around $4 you can get a small jar of Chicken, Beef or Vegetable Bouillion Paste (organic too!) that will make the equivalent of 36 cans of chicken/beef/vegetable broth. But the best part is that you keep it in your refrigerator and never have to stock up on cans of broth again, saving time and space! It’s probably my best crock pot secret because almost every slow cooker meal starts with a broth.
2. Canned Beans
Want to reduce the money you spend on meat? Use Beans! We use canned black and kidney beans to add substance to almost every dish in order to add substance. Plus, beans are an excellent source of iron, a mineral that most women are in need of.
Plus, when I want a super cheap and healthy snack, I just whip open a can of chickpeas and make some easy homemade hummus.
3. Canned Meats: Tuna & Chicken Breasts
These are great for casseroles, easy lunches, or even making chicken salad, etc. I don’t like to eat it straight outta the can, but adding a little mayo or other spices and you’ll never know it was out of a can! Plus, having it on hand makes for a super simple dinner when you forget to thaw meat to cook. Oh, and this item should always be included in your Hurricane Supply Kit because it has a crazy long shelf life and it’s a good source of protein!
This item is probably the most expensive one on this list. But there is usually always at least one brand on sale weekly at the grocery store, and it can be frozen to use later (so you can stock up when you see that sale). Ooey, gooey cheese is one ingredient that always makes everything it touches taste better. We use cheese on pretty much everything, which makes having this a staple in our house a must!
We eat a lot of eggs in our home, especially because they are one of the cheapest breakfast foods you can feed your family! This means we keep at least a dozen eggs on hand at all times. It has a permanent spot on my weekly grocery shopping list.
Hard-boiled for a quick high-protein snack, add to some baking supplies for a quick “muffin in a mug” lunch or fry it up for breakfast. I’m convinced this little item packs the most punch for the least amount of money.
6. Frozen Veggies
Frozen veggies are so much cheaper than fresh produce, and they allow you the flexibility of always having them on hand. Broccoli, Green Beans, and Brussel sprouts are three things you should keep stocked in your freezer to make it easy to add some healthy veggies to your meals without breaking the bank.
7. Frozen Fruit
Don’t you hate when your fruit goes bad before you get to use it. Or when you buy some delicious looking strawberries and you go to eat them only to discover that there was a moldy, rotten one in the middle ruining the whole batch?! I hate that! Buying frozen berries eliminates all the frustrations. And usually they are cheaper than their fresh counterparts! Whether we are using them for a quick pancake topping, or a quick milkshake or smoothie, we always have frozen strawberries on hand.
8. Peppers & Onions
This sounds like an odd staple, but we start nearly every dinner with these two items in our crock pot or frying pan. Choose green peppers because they are your cheapest option over the other colors. Onions add great flavor to every meal, without adding much extra cost.
Plus, you might see them on a discount if they are about to go bad, so you can sliced & dice them and put them in the freezer for your go-to dinner starter also!
9. Lemons/Lemon Juice
We use lemon juice for cleaning, but there are so many recipes that call for it as well! Lemon juice has a long shelf life, making it a perfect pantry staple. Plus, if you are in need of something fresh to drink instead of expensive soda’s, give a squirt of lemon juice to your water, sweeten to your liking and you’ll be happy as a clam.
This is a great base for making your own homemade salad dressings. It’s also the main ingredient used in several cleaning products. Where you aware that half a cup of white vinegar can be used instead of laundry softener or as a replacement for Jet Dry in your dishwasher? Who knew?!
11. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has about a gazillion uses! It has a higher burn point than butter making it a great choice for frying anything when you cook. We have replaced all the other oils in our home with coconut oil because of it’s great price as well as it’s excellent health benefits.
12. Onion Powder and/or Garlic Powder
Let’s say that you completely ran out of onions. No fresh ones, no frozen ones… then Onion Powder can come to your rescue! I am constantly using this as a substitute for fresh onion! (And I do the same with Garlic powder!)
13. Baking Powder
Baking powder is a must for baking from scratch! It is always on hand in my pantry. Actually, it’s so inexpensive I always keep a second container on hand so that I’m never without it.
14. Baking Soda
Baking soda is an important ingredient that can be used for cleaning and deodorizing around the home. I buy it by the huge bag full because it is the only product that truly gets the smell out of my laundry. With three boys, all in sports, we have a lot of stinky clothing to use it on!
15. Cocoa Powder
Make sure you choose the unsweetened variety of cocoa powder so that you can add your own sweetener and make it as sweet (or not) for your liking. For baking, cocoa powder is a must-have because so many chocolate-based treats start with cocoa powder. This is a cake made in one minute in the microwave (I substitute the sugar for a stevia sweetener).
Oats are so versatile, they can be ground and used as a flour, as filler for meatloaves to reduce the meat, baked in cookies or simply made as a breakfast staple, as it is often done in our home.
Flour is always a great staple to have on hand. Most recipes, especially baking ones, will call for some amount of flour. I keep this low-carb, gluten-free one always on hand and ready for my baking needs.
18. Sugar or Sweetener
You know I love my coffee super sweet, but besides using it in coffee, sugar is also obviously used in baking as well as beauty and cleaning products. That’s why it’s important to always have on hand in your pantry.
Salt is the easiest way to flavor food, plus it is a key ingredient for cleaning so it’s got multiple purposes and should always be ready for use inside your pantry. Even if you get the pink Himalayan variety, you won’t bust your budget.
Rice is a super inexpensive side dish to fill those growing kids! Especially the healthier varieties such as brown, yellow or jasmine. We also use it to add filler to meat dishes so that they go farther, therefore, saving us money.
Pasta is easily one of the most frugal and filling meals you can make! It’s always a good idea to have a variety of different kinds of pasta on hand to have a quick dinner ready in moments.
22. Peanut Butter (Jelly is optional)
The J part of a PB&J is why your sandwiches are so expensive! Peanut butter can be used to make protein balls, fudge, and even a filling sandwich for lunch. If you miss the sweet with the salty (the jelly), you could pair it with an inexpensive banana, honey, or as my Dad likes to eat it… with butter.
23. Popcorn Kernels
Popcorn is an inexpensive snack to keep on hand for those moments when you just want to munch, without it costing an arm and a leg! We make popcorn on the stove in minutes, and a brown bag version in the microwave too.
24. Tomato Paste
Tomato paste can be used for making marinara or pasta sauce much cheaper than it’s jarred counterpart. It’s also a perfect addition in stews and casseroles and did you know that it can be added to crock pot meals as a low-carb thickener! (Yep! We do this all the time!)
Tortillas are super versatile, and you can even freeze them for later, making them a great pantry staple to stock up on! Fajitas, quesadillas, and soft tacos are all great inexpensive meal options that use tortillas.
As you can see, we keep a number of different items in our home at all times to make sure that our home is well stocked! I hope that this list has not only inspired you to stock your pantry as well but that you give it a try!