Do you stock these cheap pantry staples? You should! Because these basic staples will help you make easy homemade meals fast!
Keeping your kitchen stocked with cheap, basic pantry items is key to saving money on your grocery bill because it allows you to more easily make your own meals at home.
I often get asked what ingredients I recommend stocking, which I find hard to know how to answer since I feel like each family’s pantry staples list will look a bit different due to eating styles and habits.
But, I also know that it’s helpful to see how other people do things too. So I put together this list of the top basic food staples that I try to keep on hand at all times.
Having these cheap staples in my kitchen has been a sanity saver for me because it makes it really easy for me to create a variety of inexpensive meals at a moment’s notice.
Cheap Pantry Staples
Cheap Baking Supplies:
One of the mainstays if you plan to cook or bake from scratch! Not only do I use this in many of my baked goods, but I also frequently use to create roux to thicken soups and sauces.
2. SUGAR (White, Brown and Confectioners)
I make most of our desserts from scratch, so I like to keep all three kinds of sugar on hand.
While I use oatmeal a lot for baking (hello Favorite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars!), it’s also a staple that I use to make frugal, filling breakfast too!
Keeping this on hand allows me to save money and mix up my own homemade pizza crust or homemade bread and rolls, any time I want!
5. BAKING POWDER | BAKING SODA
I love baking and since most cookies, cakes and brownies require baking powder or baking soda, I make sure to always keep them in my pantry!
7. PEANUT BUTTER
From peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to energy bites to baked goods to Healthy Peanut Butter Fruit Dip, this is one of those inexpensive versatile ingredients that is just smart to keep on hand!
Plus, if you need a quick pick-me-up, a spoonful of peanut butter with a few chocolate chips does the trick perfectly.
Besides the traditional uses in baking and frying, I also use oil for making my own salad dressings and vinaigrettes. One of our favorite homemade dressings is my easy Mexican Dressing.
This is probably one of the most frugal pantry items and very versatile too, plus a little bit of uncooked rice ends up being quite a lot once cooked!
Rice can stand alone by itself as a side dish and of course, is delicious in main dishes as well.
I’ve experimented with quite a few varieties of rice and our favorites are Jasmine and Basmati. Both have a great flavor/texture and cook quickly too.
We don’t eat a lot of pasta, but I still like to keep it on hand because it’s a great way to create quick, filling, inexpensive meals.
12. DRIED HERBS | SPICES
Dried herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to your recipes. And while I occasionally buy fresh herbs, using dried is much more economical and they last much longer too!
A few of the ones that I use regularly: basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg.
13. CHICKEN STOCK | BOUILLON
Chicken stock is a common ingredient in soups and casseroles and is super easy to make yourself! I also like to keep bouillon on hand since some recipes call for that instead.
Also, if I happen to be out of liquid chicken stock, I can always use the bouillon to make some- although the stock made using bouillon is not nearly as tasty or as good for you as the real thing!
This is another ingredient that I use to make homemade salad dressings. I also use it for various other recipes and it works great as a natural cleaner too!
I have quite a few Mexican-inspired dishes that call for salsa, so I like to always keep this on hand. Plus…..chips and salsa!
This Salsa Chicken Soup is also really easy and although it doesn’t look super amazing, it’s surprisingly delicious!
16. DICED TOMATOES
These are super inexpensive and way cheaper than buying fresh tomatoes. I love using them in recipes to give a bit of added flavor and color.
And I even show you how to can diced tomatoes yourself if you want to try that. It’s super easy!
17. PASTA SAUCE
I know making your own pasta sauce is pretty easy, but since I can buy it so inexpensively, I prefer to just do that.
Pasta sauce is great for a quick meal of meatball subs, pizza, spaghetti or, lasagna to mention just a few.
18. KETCHUP, MUSTARD, MAYO
Okay, so maybe I should have listed these 3 things separately. But in my mind, they all are condiments and similar items and since I’m writing this blog….. 🙂
I use many more condiments than these, but these are the three that I think every kitchen should for sure stock.
I typically make my own bread, but it is something that I always keep on hand.
We often use it to make sandwiches for lunch, toast it to eat with eggs and occasionally use it in recipes like my Cheeseburger Casserole too!
I use these all the time to make enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas and wraps. These Salsa Ranch Chicken Wraps are one of my favorite quick meals!
21. ONIONS | GARLIC
I use both of these items regularly to inexpensively add extra flavor to lots of different recipes.
One thing to consider though: if you frequently have garlic or onions spoil on you it might make more sense to just use granulated garlic or onion/garlic powder instead. Of course, you can always freeze them too, if you prefer.
These are not only a great addition to many soups, but they also make a healthy snack or side dish.
Super versatile! You can use them in soups, casseroles, breakfast dishes or side dishes.
Cheap Fridge/Freezer Items:
We love having breakfast for dinner and with eggs being so cheap, it’s a great, frugal meal too! And of course, you’re going to need them to make most homemade baked goods as well.
This is probably the one thing that might seem iffy to put on a frugal pantry list. But, I personally won’t use margarine and since I use butter in quite a few of my homemade baked goods as well as on bread, to me it’s a necessary pantry staple.
Plus, I love using it to make these easy Garlic Butter Swim Biscuits!
I like to watch for sales on butter and then I buy a lot and just freeze most of it. (Aldi typically has sales several times a year where they price their butter $2.50 or less.)
26. SOUR CREAM
I like to keep this on hand to use in soups, to make homemade dips and to use in several casserole recipes as well.
And here’s a little helpful tip: it stays good way past its “best if used by” date. 🙂
This is an item that I try to be conservative in how much I use, just because it’s not the cheapest food ever.
But, since I cook almost entirely from scratch, I do end up using it quite a bit even so.
Just a little bit can make a lettuce salad, tuna salad sandwiches or refried bean quesadillas so much yummier! And we love these White Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!
28. FROZEN VEGGIES
Often much cheaper than fresh veggies, the other handy thing about frozen ones is that they last much longer!
Probably the cheapest kind of meat there is and super versatile too! I love watching for the big family packs to go on sale, then I buy them and freeze whatever I won’t use right away.
30. GROUND BEEF | GROUND TURKEY
Definitely not as inexpensive as chicken, but I still like to keep it on hand because it’s so easy to make lots of quick meals with it.
In casseroles or soups, I often can get by with using less than the amount called for. And if it’s a Mexican-style dish, I’ll cut back the meat and increase the amount of beans used instead.