Save Money with a Well-Stocked Pantry

posted by Andrea | 09/2/2010

I have saved a lot of money over the years by keeping a well-stocked pantry and freezer; I learned this trick from my mom! I usually spend less than $20.00 per week on groceries; but you would never guess that by the amount of food we have around here!

I also save a lot of time planning our meals for the week (or the month) because I have a place to start. I don’t need to run to the store before every meal.

Here’s a look at my pantry shelves in our basement. Plus this.

In my Pantry:

  • Baking: flours, sugars, baking soda/powder, powdered milk, spices, chocolate chips, cake mixes
  • Beverages: hot coco, coffee, tea, lemonade mixes,
  • Canned foods: applesauce, fruits, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, corn, salsa
  • Condiments: peanut butter, jams/jellies, syrups, honey
  • Dried foods: raisins, craisins, cherries, beans, slit peas
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts, roasted peanuts
  • Oils: vegetable and olive
  • Paper Products: sandwich bags, parchment paper, cleaning supplies, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper
  • Produce: garlic, onions, potatoes
  • Sauces: pasta/pizza sauce, soy sauce, salad dressings
  • Snacks: crackers, chips, granola
  • Starches: pastas, rice, grains, oats, cereals, tortillas, good bread
  • Vinegars: balsamic, red, white, cider

In my Freezer:

  • Cheese: (I buy large blocks of cheese to shred and slice. It freezes well)
  • Frozen fruit and veggies
  • Meat: chicken breasts, bacon, sausage, ground turkey
  • Pizza (we always have at least one hanging around!)
  • Stock or Broth (I freeze it in one-cup servings)
  • Sweets: cookies, bars, quick breads, pie crusts (I do lots of baking once a month)

In my Fridge:

  • Condiments: ketchup, mustard, relish, dressings
  • Dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, sour cream, mayo
  • Produce: Carrots, celery, apples, oranges
  • Lots of leftovers!

Cooking with these Staples:

Some of my favorite meals come from the items in our freezer and pantry. There is something so comforting about creating an entire meal out of  leftovers and items we already have on hand. I don’t like wasting food {I got that from my mom too!} and cooking from my pantry is a perfect way to reduce our waste.

Here are a few meals we love to make with our pantry and freezer staples:

  1. Breakfast: Stale bread is excellent for French toast. Add a few eggs and some bacon or sausage and you have a delicious meal. Don’t have any bread? Make pancakes, omelettes, or a quiche.
  2. Pasta: Mix your favorite pasta with homemade or canned pasta sauce. Add a salad,  chicken breast, and cheesy garlic bread and you have a gourmet meal for a fraction of the price.
  3. Grilled Sandwiches or Wraps: Load leftover meats, cheese, condiments, and veggies on your favorite bread or wrap and grill it in a pan or on a griddle. You’ll feel like you’re at Panera Bread!
  4. Casseroles: My husband LOVES casseroles. I don’t share his intense passion, but I frequently make casseroles to use up extra ingredients we have on hand. These one-dish meals also make for easy clean up.
  5. Soups and Stews: I love using up extra veggies and meats to make delicious hardy soups and stews. I always make a double batch for the freezer.

Do you keep a well-stocked pantry and freezer? If so, what are your favorite ingredients to keep on hand? What are your favorite “pantry meals”?

Filed under: FoodPantry Stockpile

Leave a comment


  1. Lisette


    You should keep your nuts in the freezer as well. They keep forever in there otherwise the natural oils can make them go rancid.


  2. L.


    How long did it take u to stock most of the stuff?


  3. L.L.


    I don’t have a pantry. About how much would I expect to spend around if I buy everything at once? what are the things I should start w/?


  4. mom2fur


    I love having a well-stocked pantry, although mine doesn’t look as stocky as yours does. Still, it’s nice to be able to put a meal together without having to go to the store. I’m also a couponer. Alas, I had to buy a few things today that we were totally out of and there were neither sales nor coupons. I usually have one or two ‘backups’ but either forgot or didn’t see any good deals. Oh, well. I still saved 30% at the grocery this morning. As long as I save something, I’m happy!
    BTW, I see you make French Toast. You probably know this already, but you can freeze it! I make it in batches on cookies sheets in the oven then put it in the freezer for the boys (my two still at home are 20 and 23) to have for breakfast!


    Andrea Reply:

    I know, I HATE it when I run out of something that’s not on sale! My husband always jokes that he hopes milk we be on sale every week otherwise we won’t be able to buy it!! The crazy thing is, there are SO many people who have no pantry staples at all and simply buy what they need when they need it. It sounds like you are ahead of the game.

    Oh and thanks for the french toast tips. I’ve actually never frozen it {because we eat it right away!} I’ll have to give this a try though.