Back in the Fall I shared that when I shop, I plan ahead, buy in bulk and stock up on sales. After each of these big shopping trips, I often exclaim,”Wow, we are well stocked up on all the things we need!”
Even though those big shopping trips are tedious and take hours of planning, it is rewarding and there’s a sense of pride afterwards by having that well stocked pantry.
A fully stocked pantry reduces stress while saving time and money. If you can get everything you need in one shopping trip, you will most likely save time and gas money in the long run! This is because you won’t be driving here and there for one or two forgotten items. If you purchase in bulk during your initial trip, you’ll also be saving money on packaging. Have you ever checked out the UNIT PRICE on your grocery items?
So what exactly is a well stocked pantry? The following is a good guide to stocking your pantry, freezer, and fridge with the staple essentials.
Milk (fresh, canned, condensed, and powdered)
Yogurt (Greek has the highest nutrition count)
Parmesan Cheese and/or Romano Cheese
Fruit-juice concentrates- orange, apple, pineapple
Frozen vegetables- peas, spinach, broccoli, bell pepper and onion mix, corn, chopped onions, small whole onions, mixed veggies, potatoes (stock up on all the vegetables your family likes)
Breads & buns- Buy some store-bought breads and freeze for when needed to make quick meals
Poultry, fish, beef, pork, sausage, and bacon (buy, stock up, and freeze these items when they go on sale)
** I also freeze butter and cheese. **
Oils, Vinegars & Condiments
Olive oil, Canola Oil and Peanut Oil
Mayo, Mustard, Ketchup
Vinegar- white and cider (for cooking and cleaning purposes)
Asian condiments and flavorings- sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, and hoisin sauce
Seasoning & Spices
Salt & Pepper
Onions (fresh and powdered)
Garlic (fresh and powdered)
Ginger (fresh and powdered)
Herbs- oregano, sage, Italian Seasoning, dill
Spices- allspice, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, lemon pepper, poultry seasoning, red pepper, and paprika
Lemons, limes, oranges (for flavoring and zesting as well as eating)
Cream of Tartar
Powdered or confectioner’s sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Canned Goods, Dry Goods & Bottled Items
Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato juice
Canned or jar spaghetti sauce- red and white
Chicken broth, beef broth and/or vegetable broth (dry cubes are fine)
Canned and dried beans and peas : pinto, red, black, navy, black-eyed, garbanzo
Canned Ranch Style Beans
Canned tuna, salmon
Raisins, dried fruits, and nuts, if desired
Grains & Legumes
All Purpose Flour
Pastas- spaghetti, macaroni noodles, egg noodles, lasagna noodles
Dried breadcrumbs- consider plain, seasoned, and Panko
Napkins, paper towels
Sandwich bags & storage bags
Paper lunch bags or paper grocery bags
Plastic grocery bags
Mason jars or an assortment of glass jars
Cartons and storage containers of various sizes
Buy What You Need – Use What You Buy
While the examples above are not by any means a complete list, this is a guide to help you build up your own pantry. You would be surprised at how many meals you can put together out of a pantry when money is tight! Buy what you need, use what you buy and use what you have on hand.
With that said, it’s also important to know you don’t have to go out and buy everything at one time. Build your well-stocked pantry over weeks and months as you find the things you need on sale. If possible, buy 6-12 months worth when the item goes on sale. Over time a well stocked pantry can save a family money and reduce meal planning stress.
To learn more, check out my Molly Green Magazine issue titled THE WELL-PREPPED PANTRY. All of the ideas discussed above (and more!) can be found in this September 2011 issue. Remember if you’re a Molly member, this issue is free to you! Simply log in to your member page and search it out.
What’s in your pantry? Would you say you have a well stocked pantry? What are some pantry stocking tips and strategies that you’ve learned along the way?