10 Frugal Kitchen Staples

by Marcy on February 5, 2014 · 1 comment

Frugal Kitchen Staples

Frugal Kitchen Staples

I have heard many times that the second largest amount of money most people spend each month is what they spend on food. That includes groceries and eating out. I know when it comes to our household budget that this is certainly true.

We live in a suburb and have tons of tempting fast food and dining options nearby, so the call to eat out rings strong and often. However, I have found that keeping certain kitchen staples on hand does help curb the temptation. Inherently I can’t stand to run out of things – I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in the country and we had to drive far for staples?  – but for whatever reason, I love to have a stocked pantry. I also know that when I run out of staples that I’m probably going to have to pay full price to buy them – yet another reason why I buy multiples of certain items when they are on sale (and that is why I have 400 Lipton Tea Bags in my possession right now! ;-))

I thought it might be helpful to share a list of my 10 Favorite Frugal Kitchen Staples with you, just in case it might help you with stocking your pantry. Also be sure to check out my article about Frugal Meal Planning for more money saving, eating at home tips & tricks!

  • Dry pasta – this will keep for a long time and is so versatile. If push comes to shove, I can cook the pasta and toss it with olive oil and freshly minced garlic and I have a tasty meal or side dish in 10-15 minutes. You can also add any random leftover veggies to complete the meal.
  • Canned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes – add some spices and you have spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce. You can make basic spaghetti with or without meat, pizza with homemade dough or on toast, English muffins or bagels. (See: My Favorite Meat Sauce Recipe)
  • Beans – dry beans are cheaper, but you have to plan ahead to prepare them. You can keep a few cans of beans as a back up, or when you have time, cook up a large batch of dry beans and then freeze them in meal size portions.
  • Instant rice – this can be cooked up quickly with water or broth to become the base of several meals. I use instant whole grain rice for more nutritional value. Mix beans, rice and diced tomatoes together for a tasty meal.
  • Onions, garlic and potatoes – these produce items have a long shelf life and can be added to many meals to boost the nutritional value and flavor. You can top potatoes with random leftovers from the fridge and add a little cheese and you have a complete meal.
  • Basic baking supplies – By keeping flour, sugar, oil, cocoa, chocolate chips, baking powder, baking soda, yeast and salt on hand I can make many things that will save me a trip to the store. Kids need to bring a dessert for school the next day? Make cupcakes, brownies, chocolate chip cookies or more. Need a filling side dish? You can make a quick batch of baking powder biscuits to go with dinner. You can make rolls, pizza dough, and more. Out of your go to breakfast cereal? Whip up a batch of muffins. (Note: I love shopping at ALDI for my baking essentials, it saves me a ton of money!)
  • Browned ground beef and pork – every now and then I try to have a “kitchen day” and I will brown up several packages of beef and/or pork. Then I freeze the cooked meat in meal size portions to pull out on busy days. Cooked meat thaws much faster than uncooked meat. Browned ground beef or pork can be used in a wide variety of meals. (See: How to Save Money on Meat)
  • Shredded chicken – again, having cooked meat in the freezer is a lifesaver on busy days. Shredded chicken is so versatile you can make dozens of meals with it. Enchiladas, BBQ chicken sandwiches, chicken noodle soup, as a pizza or salad topping, chicken salad sandwiches, quesadillas and many more.
  • Eggs – eggs are a nutritious quick and easy protein source. Boil them as a snack or salad topping. Scramble them for a fast meal. Add veggies and cheese and make an omelet. Fry an egg for a fast sandwich.
  • Tortillas – I use tortillas for many meals. Quesadillas are a great way to use up random leftover veggies. You can roll a tortilla with lunchmeat and cheese tightly and slice in pinwheels. Kids love this. I use them to wrap a sandwich for a school lunch – tortillas have saved many a morning for me! You can make all sorts of burritos with them. BBQ chicken burritos, black bean and rice burritos, breakfast burritos with shredded potatoes, scrambled eggs and cheese. Broil them for quick tortilla chips, add butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, spread peanut butter and honey on them for a quick snack.

One of the best staples you can have on hand though is not a food at all – it is a plan. It doesn’t have to be a super detailed menu plan, but more of an emergency meal plan. Just try making a list of fast and easy meals that your family enjoys. Then try to keep the necessary staples on hand for those meals. Pretty soon, your days of not knowing what to make for dinner will be gone! Or at least it’ll get much easier! ;-)

Find more Frugal Living Tips here. And here are some of my favorite Recipes.

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