11 Foods You’ll Find in a Frugal Pantry

by Miranda Jackson

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There are many benefits of keeping your pantry stocked with frugal foods. Here are six to consider and a list of frugal pantry foods to stock up on when they’re on sale.

I stock my frugal pantry with foods that are both versatile and long-lasting. They are items I stock up on during BOGO sales that allow me to create affordable meals for my family while reducing the chance of losing food to waste.

When building your own frugal pantry, you should focus on foods your family will eat that have a long shelf life and can be used to create a variety of meals. This way, you won’t tire of continuously eating the same frugal meals.

A frugal pantry can benefit you more than just saving you some money. Read on for six benefits of building a frugal pantry and a list of typical foods you’ll find in a frugal pantry.

The Benefits of Building a Frugal Pantry

Stocking a frugal pantry can provide many benefits, including:

  • Savings: Buying in bulk or during sales can significantly reduce your grocery bill. You can also avoid pricey last-minute takeout or fast food when you have ingredients at home to make a quick meal.
  • Reduced food waste: By stocking up on staples and items you know you’ll use, you’ll reduce food waste.
  • Emergency preparedness: A well-stocked pantry can be a lifesaver in a natural disaster, financial crisis or pandemic.
  • Convenience: Having a variety of staples on hand allows you to create meals on short notice without making a shopping trip.
  • Healthier eating: You’ll be prepared to make healthy meals at home instead of relying on processed or fast foods.
  • Less stress: Knowing you have plenty of food on hand can reduce stress and anxiety about meal planning and last-minute shopping trips.

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Foods You’ll Find in a Frugal Pantry

Stock up when the following foods are on sale, and you’ll be prepared to create a wide variety of frugal meals:

1. Rice

Rice is a staple food that is versatile, filling and affordable. It can be used as a base for many dishes or as a side dish.

If you really want to save, stick to unflavored rice and learn to create your own frugal, flavorful rice creations. Seasoned rice packets have a considerable markup, so you’ll often pay considerably more for them, even when on sale.

Use these tips to store bulk rice purchases safely.

2. Beans

Dried or canned beans are a great source of protein for many dishes, such as soups, stews and salads. Typically, dried beans are cheaper than canned, but those BOGO canned beans can help you quickly get a meal on the table on busy nights.

You may also want to read about the ways beans can help you reduce food costs.

3. Pasta

Pasta is another versatile and inexpensive ingredient to use in various dishes. You can use it for a main or side dish and in casseroles and soups.

4. Canned Tomatoes

Use canned tomatoes as a cheap base for sauces, soups and stews. They’re also an affordable alternative when fresh tomato prices are high.

5. Oats

Oats are an affordable and nutritious breakfast option that are also great for making baked goods. And here are several more ways to use quick oats to save money in the kitchen.

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6. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is an affordable source of protein, great for sandwiches, smoothies and baking. It’s also a great food to have on hand during a power outage.

7. Oils

I always keep vegetable and olive oil on hand. I use vegetable oil for baking and olive oil for sautéing or making homemade salad dressings. I typically buy these in bulk and make sure to store them properly so they don’t go bad before I use them up.

Here are some more tips for saving on cooking oils, butters and fats.

8. Potatoes

I’m sure I don’t have to list everything you can make with a bag of potatoes. I make something with potatoes two to three times a week, from snacks to soups to sides.

When stored properly, potatoes can last up to two months. And unless you’re on a low-carb eating plan, potatoes are a healthy choice.

9. Onions

You can add onions to so many dishes for added flavor and depth. When stored properly, they have a long shelf life, up to two to three months.

10. Baking Staples

Keeping basic staples on hand, such as flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda, will allow you to stop buying baking mixes at the store. Use these ingredients to measure out your own mixes rather than buying cake or pancake mixes at the store.

Use these recipes to make your own frugal breads.

11. Spices

Rather than pay for a wide variety of spices, I’ve learned to incorporate my favorites into my meals and only buy them when I see a great sale or can get significant savings on a bulk purchase.

The spices I use most include garlic powder, garlic salt, onion powder, basil, oregano, smoked paprika, cumin and chipotle pepper. And I never have to throw out an old bottle of barely-used spice.

What Frugal Foods Will Fill Your Pantry?

Remember, a frugal pantry is not about deprivation. It’s about understanding your family’s food needs, avoiding waste and making the most of what you have to prepare healthy, affordable meals that fit your budget.

You can find hundreds of recipes online that use these frugal staples, so you’ll surely find plenty your family will love.

Reviewed October 2023

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