Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge is one of the biggest tips I give to people who are looking to save money. When you have what you need on hand, you buy fewer items at the store each time. Knowing what to keep in the pantry means you can plan ahead and buy in bulk/search for the best price!
It’s also a good idea to clean out the pantry and fridge every so often- give a good look in there, see what you want to use up (or what NEEDS to be used up) and base your meals off of that. I can make complete meals from what I already have- a great thing to be able to do when you just don’t want to go to the store. Instead of calling for take-out, you can make your own meals that are healthier AND less expensive by far! If you’re ever stumped, you can leave a reply on Leftover Makeovers and I can help you figure out what to make with what you already have.
Here’s what I keep in my pantry, fridge, and freezer at any given time- I supplement with fresh produce, milk, eggs, orange juice, and poultry/fish.
Every single thing I have is organic. Instead of writing organic 2348238 times, I’m just going to state that right here!
- stock- I have chicken and vegetable- whatever you use most!
- bouillon – I use Better than Boullion Organic Chicken Base- for when you need just a little stock and don’t want to open a whole box
- pasta- I use 100% whole wheat organic. I sometimes get sprouted pasta from the bulk section at Whole Foods because it’s cheaper than buying boxes of sprouted whole wheat pasta. You can get Gluten Free if you prefer!
- rice- arborio (for risotto), brown, long grain- whatever you like to eat!
- cous cous- a great fast cooking grain, available in many variations
- quinoa- a staple in my kitchen. High in protein, low in fat, and fairly priced when bought in bulk
- tomatoes- check your company to see if they make BPA free cans for tomatoes. If not, go with jarred versions. I have crushed, diced, and tomato sauce. Some brands that make jarred tomatoes are:
- oils- coconut, olive, and a high burning, such as avocado or canola. PLEASE purchase organic oils if you can- vegetable, canola, etc. are usually genetically modified if they’re not certified organic
- vinegars- I have balsamic, red wine, and apple cider vinegar at all times
- canned beans- canellini, kidney, black, garbonzo (aka chick peas)
- dried lentils- I have green and black
- dried beans- cheaper than canned beans, but you need to plan ahead with them. If you make recipes in advance, these are for you!
- sugar (if you bake a lot of recipes that use it)- you can also use date, coconut, or other less refined sugars
- powdered/confectioners sugar (if you make a lot of frostings/icings)
- cacao powder- make sure it’s not COCOA powder! Big difference, but barely noticeable in terms of spelling if you’re not paying attention.
- agave- I use this as a sweetener in healthy versions of recipes. I also use it in my coffee in the mornings!
- honey- local and raw is best
- baking soda- I opt for Bob’s Red Mill over A&H because fewer chemicals are used to make it
- baking powder
- flours- I have organic white, sprouted whole grain, coconut, and quinoa. Sometimes I rotate other Gluten Free flours into the mix if they’re on sale
- vanilla extract- be sure to get pure, NOT imitation- it makes all the difference in the world. I use Simply Organic
- other extracts if you bake a lot (chocolate, almond, etc)
- almond butter/cashew butter (or peanut if you prefer)- I prefer almond over peanut butter in recipes (it’s a little better for you!), and I prefer desserts made with cashew butter over the others
- tahini- sesame paste/butter. I use this in my hummus burgers and many other recipes!
- carton of almond/oat/soy/rice milk (your preference)- you never know when you’re going to forget to pick up milk, run out for coffee/tea or a recipe- I always keep a carton around if one of the above happens. Often the case: someone finishes the milk without telling me and I have a back up!
- bottle of juice (I have organic orange mango)- same as with the milk, you never know when you’re going to run out or not have enough for a spontaneous recipe. I drink plain organic orange juice, but if I run out, my organic orange mango is a great substitute
- nuts- I have walnuts, cashews, almonds, and pine nuts
- herbs and spices- whatever you find yourself using a lot of. I use a lot of different spices and cook with them quite often so my cabinet is FULL
- cornmeal- PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR CORNMEAL IS ORGANIC! Corn is one of the most genetically modified crops in the United States
- dried cranberries- always a good idea to make sure they’re organic too- sugar and corn syrup are used as sweeteners and are genetically modified most of the time
- sustainably caught tuna- if you are vegetarian or vegan, no need for this obviously!
- sustainably caught salmon- same as with the tuna
- coconut milk- I always use the lowest fat, some people use full fat for certain recipes- it’s up to you!
- cups of apple sauce- yes the individual cups cost more than a jar in terms of unit price, but organic apple sauce goes bad before I get the chance to finish a jar- the cups are the perfect amount for recipes.
- canned pineapple- make sure it’s canned in juice. Also a good idea to look for organic.
- ketchup- PLEASE get organic. The price is only a little bit more and the quality of what you’re putting in your body is drastically higher
- mustard- I have stone ground and Dijon
- Worcestershire sauce
- soy sauce- I must insist again that you get organic soy sauce for the same reason as the ketchup. Soy is one of the most genetically modified foods in the U.S.
- brown sugar- I keep it in the fridge so it doesn’t harden as much- my father-in-law showed me this and it really helps!
- real maple syrup- the kind in a glass jar, or big plastic jug from Vermont- not the fake kind that many use for pancakes
- hot sauce- if you like to spice things up sometimes!
- jelly/jam/preserves- I use organic superfruit spreads- each is from a different continent, North America (Blue), Europe (Green), South America (Orange), Asia (Yellow)
- chia seeds
- bread crumbs (plain and seasoned)- keeping them in the freezer keeps them fresher longer!
Having all of the above at any given time has really helped me out in the past and can most certainly help you too. You should include any items you use frequently and avoid purchasing products for just one recipe that you’d have difficulty incorporating into other dishes.
Remember to always check online to see if you can get a better price (remember to include shipping in your calculations!). Also, check around from store to store- two natural markets I go to had the exact same honey last week that was $3.20 different from store to store!
Do you keep anything in your pantry that I didn’t list above? I’d love to hear!