The Well Stocked Pantry


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?

Pantry Essentials

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.

Refrigerator Basics

Milk (fresh, canned, condensed, and powdered)
Yogurt (Greek has the highest nutrition count)
Sour cream
Parmesan Cheese and/or Romano Cheese
Cheddar Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
American Cheese
Cream Cheese
Lemon Juice

Freezer Basics

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
Salad Dressings
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
Barbecue sauce
Steak sauce
Worcestershire 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)
Baking soda
Baking powder
Cream of Tartar
Vanilla extract
Granulated sugar
Powdered or confectioner’s sugar
Brown sugar
Maple syrup
Corn syrup
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Chocolate chips

Canned Goods, Dry Goods & Bottled Items

Canned tomatoes, tomato paste,  and tomato juice
Canned or jar spaghetti sauce- red and white
Pizza Sauce
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 chili
Canned tuna, salmon
Peanut butter
Canned fruits
Raisins, dried fruits, and nuts, if desired

Grains & Legumes

All Purpose Flour
Self-Rising Flour
Pastas- spaghetti, macaroni noodles, egg noodles, lasagna noodles
Corn starch
Dried breadcrumbs- consider plain, seasoned, and Panko

Paper Goods

Napkins, paper towels
Aluminum foil
Plastic wrap
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?

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2 thoughts on “The Well Stocked Pantry

  1. My husband and I both grew up in places where gettting to the grocery store could take a lot of effort, and weather was frequently a preventing factor. Well stocked pantries were a must for our families. When we were first married, instead of going out to dinner or movies, we went to the grocery store (only two blocks away) and started stocking our pantry. That odd activity for newlyweds proved to be a huge blessing when his industry got very tight and small and we literally lived out of that pantry for months.
    Now, with homeschooling four children, we don’t always make our grocery run when we plan to. There are still times when we are very thankful there is something in that pantry that we can pull out for dinner. The huge money saving benefits make it easier to keep it stocked too.
    Thank you Molly, for the great pantry checklist!

    Molly says: You’re most welcome! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Molly, you could not be more correct! Proper use of the pantry allowed me to feed a family of 6 (with two being teenagers) on less than $200 a month for years. And that even included the occasional ‘adult’ beverages. Further, since we homeschooled and worked ‘on the land’, there were no school lunch programs or meals purchased ‘on the way to…”.

    Molly says: Thank you for sharing. Yes, I too am learning more on stocking up and living on what we have. As prices rise, it seems we are all making a lot of adaptations!

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