How to Stock a Pantry – Frugal and Healthy Ideas

If you want to save money, you need to be prepared. Being prepared means having a frugal pantry. What is a frugal pantry you ask?

how to stock a pantry

A frugal pantry is a pantry that is full of cheap staples that keep you from saying, “there’s no food in this house. Let’s go out to eat.”

We’ve had to learn to keep the staples on hand now that we don’t live close to a grocery store. If there is nothing to cook it isn’t as easy to say “I’ll just run to the grocery store.”

When your pantry is stocked up it allows you to save money. There have been times that I have looked in the fridge to discover we are extremely low on groceries, but because I have staples in the pantry I’ve been able to come up with something to make, even if it is just pancakes! This buys me time until the next grocery trip.


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Now, one of the things with a frugal pantry is that you often will be cooking from scratch with some of the items. Cooking from scratch is healthier and cheaper. If you are someone who hasn’t cooked from scratch much, don’t be afraid of it. Everyone has to start somewhere and you can learn to cook.

There are so many tutorials online to cook whatever you want! So if you don’t have a lot of cooking experience under your belt you don’t have to worry, there are tons of videos and tutorials that will walk you through it.


If you want to learn how go bake bread, you can check out my tutorial on how to do it here. Or maybe you want to make yogurt, which you can learn how to do in this post.

If you are building up a frugal pantry you will want a few supplies. Mason jars are a must! You will be filling those with lots of different things.

Another thing I like for our pantry supplies are 5 gallon buckets. We bought our food-safe buckets from a local wine-making store. The key is to make sure they are food-safe. You do NOT want to store food in buckets that are not food-safe as the plastic buckets have the potential to leak chemicals into your food. We don’t want that.

The one thing I do splurge on when it comes to storage for my pantry is the lids for these buckets. You know when you are trying to get the regular lids off a 5 gallon bucket and you have to peel it off with your fingers, which never comes easily and in the end hurts your fingers?

Yeah, I don’t like that.

So I purchased these Gamma Seal Lids. While not cheap, they last and are worth every cent. You hammer the one part of the lid onto the bucket and then the other part just screws on and off, making it super easy. They are also airtight and critter proof. And you can get them in multiple colors which is great to help you keep track of what is in each bucket.

airtight 5 gallon bucket lids

I’m a serious fan of these lids.

Stocking a pantry can ease your worries when a storm rolls in, or money is tight, or you can’t get to the grocery store as soon as you would like.

So let’s talk about what you should be stocking in your frugal pantry!


Rice. We love rice in this house. I always try to keep rice on hand because it’s the perfect food to go with a lot of meals. Don’t know what to make with that roasted chicken? Rice. Don’t know what to make with tacos? Rice. Don’t know what to make with your grilled pork? Rice. Your pantry needs rice. 🙂

Flour. Every frugal pantry needs flour, especially if you have kids (unless, of course, you are gluten-free, but then you can get the gluten-free flours.) My kids like to have a gazillion snacks and having flour in the pantry means I can always bake something to feed these hungry munchkins.

Sweeteners. White sugar, brown sugar, or honey to name a few. Sweeteners are a necessity for baking, for coffee, and for many other things.

Coffee. Do you know what happens when you run out of coffee? Aside from a really bad morning, usually a trip though the drive-thru. Always make sure you have coffee in your pantry if you have coffee drinkers in your home.

Tea. Whether you love to drink it or invite friends over and offer them tea, this is always a great, frugal option to have in your pantry.

Oats. Okay, so, our little not-so-secret secret in this house is that breakfast involves a lot of cereal. I always say we are going to change it, yet it’s so, so easy to do while we are all groggy in the morning. However, I am always sure to have oats on hand for when we run out of cereal. It’s also great for baking or added to smoothies.

Garlic powder. I mean, is there anything garlic isn’t good for? Perfect to add to a variety of dishes, it is definitely a necessity to help bring meals from bland to delicious!

Dried or canned beans. Dried beans are going to be cheaper than the canned, but canned beans are still a super frugal option. We add them to chilis or rice. If your cupboards are absolutely empty but you have some black beans, rice, and some salsa, you’ve got dinner.

Raisins. We always have raisins on hand for snacks or to add to oatmeal.

Pasta. Pasta is such an easy dinner to make and usually everyone loves it. You can make it with a variety of sauces, and add meat or vegetables. Fast, cheap, and easy.

Canned tomatoes and sauce. This goes hand in hand with the pasta. If you have sauce and pasta in your pantry, you’ve got dinner! Canned tomatoes are great to have as well because you can add them to chilis, soups, and sauces.

Oil. This can be whatever your family uses, but we usually have olive oil, coconut oil, and canola oil in our pantry. We use it for cooking so many things it just makes sense to always have it in the pantry.

Baking soda. Not only can you use baking soda for baking, but you can use it for cleaning a variety of things around your home, or deodorize your fridge.

Vinegar. Again, another item that is not just used for cooking, but for cleaning as well. With vinegar you can also make vinaigrettes so it’s a great thing to have on hand.

Nut butters. Nut butters are a great, easy thing to grab for a quick meal or snack. It’s a great thing to grab for some protein. Kids love peanut butter sandwiches. Make sure you have nut butters in your pantry.

Condiments. Whatever condiments your family loves and uses often should be in your pantry. Many of them need to be refrigerated but you should have a back-up in your pantry for when you run out. Things like Dijon mustard, soy sauce (for that rice that is first on the list), or ketchup (if your kids love it as much as mine) are all things you can keep in your pantry.

Salt. Any dish is made better with salt, right? Running out of salt means you may be having a bland dinner tonight. Always have salt on hand, you won’t regret it.

Cocoa. Chocolate. Enough said.


Learning how to stock a pantry full of frugal and healthy options is worth it. You will save money, and you will eat better. It is a comfort to know that you can always go to your pantry and find something to use to pull a meal together that the whole family can enjoy.

Saving money often comes down to being prepared and the kitchen is one of the biggest areas you can save money if you are prepared. Meal planning, keeping a pantry inventory, and making a proper grocery list can all go a long way in helping you prepare. That’s why I created these kitchen printables. They help you in all areas of the kitchen. You can check those out here.

So, stock up your pantry and watch as it helps you save money!

How to Stock a Pantry
Article Name
How to Stock a Pantry
Learn how to stock a frugal and healthy pantry so you can save money.
Publisher Name
Simple Life of a Frugal Wife

2 thoughts on “How to Stock a Pantry – Frugal and Healthy Ideas”

  1. Hi I’m Jackie everything I’ve read I like. I wrote the recipe down for the fried pork chops it sounds good. I’m on a fixed income so this will help me so much. I look forward to trying anymore of your recipes in the near future thanks so. God Bless you

    1. Hi Jackie! I hope you like the pork chops – we all love them here! If you are looking for more recipes, be sure to subscribe to my email list as you’ll get a PDF with 5 recipes there, and of course, there is the recipe tab on my blog where you will find more recipes there. Thanks for stopping by!

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