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Frugal Pantry Starter List – 25+ Must Have Pantry Essentials
Ever wonder what you really need in your pantry? When I first started meal planning and cooking from home I had no idea what I actually needed to have in my pantry.
With so many options at the grocery store, it’s hard to know what you actually need to fill your pantry with and what’s just fluff.
And trust me there is a whole lot of fluff going on.
Even if you are only a tiny bit familiar with cooking you probably have noticed that many recipes call for similar things time and time again.
This is something to pay attention to!
By stocking your pantry with these basic staples you’re not only able to make different meals for this week you are able to make different meals for many many weeks to come.
Having a fully stocked and functional pantry will allow you to save money and time because you will always have something you can cook at home.
So what exactly do you need to stock your pantry for successful meal planning? Feel free to click the image below to grab a FREE print out of this frugal pantry starter list!
These basic baking ingredients are must have’s for any frugal pantry. These staples are a great start to many family favorites including pancakes, muffins, waffles, cornbread, cookies and so much more.
I hardly ever buy any boxed baking mixes anymore unless I find them on a really good sale. Cornstarch and flour can also be used in many dishes outside of baking such as thickening agents for soups and gravies or coating for chicken.
Having good storage options for your dry baking goods is an absolute must for keeping them fresh and lasting longer.
Ever try to make cookies with rock solid brown sugar? Yeah, it totally sucks.
These are the containers I currently use for my dry baking goods. I first fell in love with this brand after I had tried their brown sugar keeper. The brown sugar keeper comes with discs similar to these terra cotta discs that will prevent your brown sugar from ever getting hard. It is life changing!
Here are some recommendations for must have baking items
- Granulated Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Powdered Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Chocolate Chips
- Baking Soda
- Vanilla Extract
- Baking Powder
Oil & Vinegar
I chose these specific oil and vinegar options because they are exactly what I keep on hand and are commonly used in most recipes. Depending on your preferences you might want to switch a few out for other options like coconut oil or avocado oil which is totally fine too.
To keep the oil and vinegar organized and easy to access I have chosen to have them on this lazy susan. This is different from most turntable style organizers because they have built in dividers.
The dividers prevent the oils from falling over onto each other and spilling which will save you from a lot of mess and lost product.
If you buy your oil and vinegar in bulk as I do I would highly suggest pouring them into separate bottles. These oil and vinegar bottles make for much easier storage in the pantry or on the countertop whichever you prefer.
Here are some recommendations for oils/vinegars
- Olive Oil
- Vegetable Oil
- White Vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Rice Vinegar
- Cooking Spray
It’s so easy to go overboard when it comes to buying spices. Most of the time you buy a spice for a certain recipe and you never end up using it again.
Eventually, you end up with a cabinet full of spices and you have no clue what you have in there or not. I’ve done that too.
That’s why I limit myself to my every day can’t live without/I would have to go to the store if I ran out spices. If I do need a random spice for a one-off recipe I will buy from a bulk store like Sprouts where I can measure the exact amount that I need for the recipe.
Personally I like having all of my spices in one location. I find that if I can see everything I have it makes it easier to not only come up with meal plan ideas but it’s great for knowing what you are getting low on.
For my seasoning and gravy packets, I have this organizer specifically made for packets. I have had this organizer for about a year now and I don’t know how I lived without it before. No more crinkled up packets in the back of the pantry.
Here are some recommendations for spices
- Bouillon (chicken, beef or vegetable)
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Taco Seasoning
- Chili Powder
- Cayenne Pepper
- Ranch Packets
- Gravy Packets (au jus, brown gravy, country gravy etc)
Pasta is a must have in any variety you like. I love pasta not only for spaghetti but for soups and cold salads as well. Along with rice it’s a great frugal ingredient to bulk up any recipe especially if you are wanting to use less meat.
I also recently discovered tomato paste in a tube. I can’t believe it took me this long but really, it’s awesome, especially if you only need a tablespoon or two for a recipe. So much less waste.
Confession time – I don’t do dry beans, ever. Yup. It’s true. If you love dried beans go for it, add it to your list, but for me, I usually always stick to canned beans and they work out perfectly.
Here are some recommendations for dry goods
- Peanut Butter
- Tomato Sauce
- Pasta Sauce
- Tomato Paste (squeeze tube, can)
- Bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
- Canned Beans (pinto, kidney, black etc)
Basic condiments are a must have to keep in the pantry. Just like spices, it’s so easy to get carried away with all the different types of marinades and sauces, and most of the time they just end up going bad. By keeping these basic staples on hand you can easily create your own sauces quickly and more affordably.
Here are some recommendations for condiments/sauces
- BBQ Sauce
- Soy Sauce
- Hot Sauce