Having a stocked pantry is a luxury, and not just in times of need or shortage. I uses my stocked pantry to cook every day of the week. Learning how to stock a pantry on a budget and maintaining a stocked pantry will help you to meal plan and save money!
1. Only buy items you know you will use
I recommend stocking your pantry with items that you are comfortable cooking with and will use no matter what the situation. Having a pantry with lots of "in case of emergency" items defeats the point. Make sure you are using and rotating your pantry items regularly.
Buying something just to have it "in case" will cost you money in the long run when you don't end up using that item before it expires. Knowing exactly what your family eats and what you will cook with and only buying those items will save you tons of money over time.
2. Buy Items in bulk on sale or in season
I love buying items in bulk when I know I will use them often. Having a twenty pound bag of rice, or fifty pounds of flour on hand is always a good idea if you know that you will use those items regularly and purchasing in bulk will save you lots of money.
You can often find bulk produce items for great discount when in season. I typically buy peaches by the case at our local summer farmers market. You can can or freeze them and use them for months to come when they are less available and more expensive.
Always make sure to store your bulk items properly to be sure that they stay fresh for as long as it takes you to use them up. I recommend large sealing tubs for items like flour, beans, rice, oats etc.
3. Stock your pantry over time
I don't recommend running out and buying hoards of items all at once just for the sake of filling your pantry. Not only will this cost a ton up front, but often times doing this can cause you to buy items you don't use often and those items then get wasted more frequently costing you money.
If you stock up on a few things at a time, when they are on sale or you are able to get a bulk discount over time you will have a well stocked pantry with only items that you use.
I recommend planning and buying things in rotation so that you always have plenty but you're never buying everything all at once.
4. Stock your pantry with whole foods
Whole Foods are almost always cheaper than processed packaged foods. They are also easier to get at a discount and to buy in bulk. Some Whole Foods I keep stocked in my pantry at all times are a follows.
Whole food items to stock your pantry
- Dry beans and lentils
- Assorted Oils (olive, coconut, avocado)
- Assorted Vinegars
- Maple syrup or molases
- Jams Jellies and Nut butters
- Corn Meal
- Onion and Garlic
- Dried meat and jerky products
- Hard Winter Squash
- Canned tomato products
- Nuts, seeds and dried fruit
- Homemade dried spices and seasonings
5. Start a garden
Starting a garden is a great way to get a start on stocking your pantry, it can be very cost efficient once you get the hang of it. Some things that I grow every year and use to stock my pantry are.
Garden items to stock in your pantry
- Hard winter squash
- Potatoes and yams
- Tomato products that I can during the summer season
- Various jams and jellies made from fresh fruit I grow
For more information on starting a garden
6. Look at expiration dates and don't overstock
I think it can be easy to go wild when you are stocking your pantry and over buy, I recommend taking it easy and only buying items you know you will use in the time before they will expire. Many items have long shelf lives which is great, but wouldn't you rather be eating and rotating the food you are buying than letting it sit there? I recommend keeping enough in your pantry to feed your family for at least three weeks, I typically have a little more than that, but I try not to overstock this always leads to wasted food and wasted money!
Having a well stocked pantry doesn't have to cost you a ton of money and you can stock it well over time. Stocking your pantry on a budget will end up saving you tons of money over time and it's a great way to start cooking from scratch more often!