As a firm believer in home-cooked meals, I always make sure to have a well stocked pantry. It is seldom I cannot throw a few things together to create a fabulous meal, because I do keep my pantry stocked, and so should you. It definitely helps to save money because you avoid the need to run to the grocery store to grab something you already have on hand, and eliminates the problem with paying regular price for something you can stock up on when it is on sale.
These are my favorite items to keep on hand in my pantry at all time.
Rice: Rice is one of those staples that can be added to many meals to thicken it up or stretch it. Not to mention, a little oil or butter and some seasoning and you just created a really simple side dish.
Beans: Beans can be added to just about any dish. Add it to soup to thicken it up, add it to a casserole to get a little extra fiber and nutrition. I usually stock up on the dry beans and soak enough for a weeks worth of meals at one time. Saves LOADS of money, as it is much cheaper than cans.
Noodles/Pasta:Pasta has a pretty extended shelf life, and comes in a wide variety of styles and shapes. So stock up when it’s on sale, and be sure to always have in on hand. You’d be amazed what you can add to some noodles to create a quick, but tasty meal.
Oils: Vegetable oil, olive oil, canola oil, etc. It doesn’t really matter as they come in quite handy when cooking or when you run out of butter for many recipes.
Canned Veggies:I actually prefer fresh, and then frozen but having cans of veggies on hand can add a bit of bulk and nutrition to a wide variety of dishes. They are already relatively inexpensive, but if you wait for a good sale, and use a coupon, you can actually get them for pennies.
Gravy/Broth: I’m addicted to soups, gravies and broths to add flavor when I am cooking. Chicken, beef and vegetable are the most common and I always have them on hand. I must admit however, that while I do occasionally stock up on them when they are on sale, I enjoy making them from scratch even better.
Sauces/Condiments: Anything from soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce to salad dressings, vinegar and even tasty marinades can add some flavor to your meals.
Tomato Sauce: I can hardly wait to work on our own garden so I can have fresh tomatoes to create sauces and pastes with, but for now – tomato sauce is an awesome staple to stick up on. You can add herbs, seasonings and cheeses to it to make your own spaghetti sauce or create a special sauce for something else.
Herbs and Spices: Whether they are dried or fresh, herbs and spices are wonderful to have for any meal. I plan to grow our own when we finally move, but for now, I’m happy to purchase dried herbs on sale or purchase fresh and dry them myself (a little cheaper).