Tuna salad is a quick, easy, satisfying lunch or snack
Buy your cleaning supplies at Dollar Tree

Essential must haves for stocking your pantry and fridge

By Mike Thayer

PantryEven if you don't like to cook, there are going to be those times when you are perhaps short on cash or eating out just isn't a timely option.  Why settle for a peanut butter sandwich, when you can make a nice pasta dish?  You need to have something available to fix and eat at home and you'll save some cash to boot vs. eating out so often.   And here's a bonus to a well-stocked pantry....  If you don't like to cook but you have a friend or girlfriend that does - they can cook something up for you!

The whole key here is to stock a pantry and fridge/freezer with items you really like.  Don't buy things that are "good for you" or items that are "OK" but you really don't eat that often.  If you're not a peanut butter person, there's no sense in having a lot of that in your pantry, buy a larger amount of something you really like instead.  When it comes to dried herbs and spices, they can get pricey, so don't buy a large variety just because it might impress somebody or you think you'll try it..... but it just ends up getting old.  Buy what you know you like and if you want to experiment, great, but go small.  And when it comes to buying these items, don't shop at the high priced grocery store, you'll find every essential you need at Dollar Tree or Aldi and save a lot of cash doing so.

Basics for the Pantry ~ Items you need for just about whatever you're making, be it frying, roasting, grilling or baking

  • Kosher salt
  • Regular table salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Some kind of vegetable oil
  • Vinegar ~ you could go crazy here, there are a lot of vinegars out there, regular, red wine, rice wine, balsamic, champagne, apple cider, sherry...  go with what you know and like.  I keep regular, rice wine (it's mild), apple cider and balsamic on hand

Baking Basics for the Pantry

  • All purpose flour
  • Pancake/waffle mix
  • Biscuit and/or cornmeal mix
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Cream of tartar
  • Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • Baking chocolate
  • Evaporated milk
  • Vanilla extract

Sweetener Basics for the Pantry

  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Artificial sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses ~ a must have to make BBQ sauce!
  • Honey

Dried Herbs, Seasoning and Spice Basics for the Pantry ~ remember, go with what you know and like

  • All purpose seasoning salt
  • Bouillon cubes and/or powders or pastes, beef & chicken
  • Bay leaves
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground ginger
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Ground pumpkin spice
  • Italian seasoning mix
  • Minced onion
  • Old Bay, regular ~ excellent with fish/seafood
  • Oregano
  • Paprika ~ sweet and smoked
  • Rosemary
  • Sesame seeds
  • Thyme

Beverage Basics for the Pantry

  • Coffee
  • Tea ~ remember, go with what you like, if you're not a tea person, grab more coffee from the store shelf, a different flavor/roast for a change of pace perhaps
  • Lemonade/Gatorade drink mix

Rice, Grain, Pasta Basics for the Pantry ~ You could go crazy here, there's such a variety

  • White rice ~ long grain, medium grain, short grain, par-boiled, jasmine, basmati
  • Brown rice ~ I don't really care for brown rice, personal choice, I'd rather stock up with some wild rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Corn meal
  • Breadcrumbs ~ plain, Italian seasoned, Panko, etc., your call
  • Pasta ~ keep a variety on hand, egg noodles, elbow macaroni, spaghetti noodles, spirals, bow ties...

Snacks and Cereal Basics for the Pantry

  • Apple sauce
  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Dried fruits
  • Granola bars
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn
  • Your favorite breakfast cereals

Canned Good Basics for the Pantry ~ stick with what you know and love, if you don't like navy beans, don't buy 'em

  • Beef broth
  • Chicken broth
  • Beans ~ you can go so many ways here, cannellini, navy, black, pinto, heck, baked!  And yes, refried counts
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Peas
  • Potatoes ~ yes, really, sometimes you just don't feel like boiling and peeling potatoes to make something
  • Olives
  • Tomatoes ~ all varieties, diced, sauce, paste, etc.
  • Chili's and salsas
  • Tuna, salmon, sardines
  • Chicken
  • Spam ~ yes, Spam, go with the low sodium varieties, Spam and eggs for breakfast is rather tasty

Egg and Dairy basics for the Refrigerator

  • Eggs ~ I like to buy the 18 count containers and I've always got two on hand
  • Milk
  • Heavy cream
  • Coffee creamer
  • Sour cream and/or plain yogurt
  • Butter
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • American cheese
  • Parmesan cheese

Fresh Produce for the Refrigerator

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Broccoli and/or cauliflower
  • Lettuce and/or leafy greens
  • Lemons/limes
  • Apples

Must-have Condiments for the Refrigerator

  • Jellies/jams
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard ~ keep a variety on hand, yellow, brown, Dijon, it's a change of pace and it keeps well
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ranch Dressing ~ Italian dressing is a good one too, an excellent impromptu marinade
  • Pickles, relish
  • BBQ sauce ~ I prefer to make my own, but hey, sometimes you need a "quickie"
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce, or Sriracha
  • Soy or Teriyaki sauce ~ a quick stir fry is a go-to meal for me

Basics for the Freezer

  • Ground beef
  • Pork sausage
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • Bacon
  • Frozen veggies ~ peas, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, mixed, whatever you'll eat
  • Frozen fruit ~ strawberries, blueberries, peaches
  • Dough ~ pizza crust, pie crust, puff pastry
  • Vanilla ice cream  ~ topped with some of that fruit, yum!

Fresh Produce for the counter

  • Tomatoes
  • Onions ~ store in your pantry if you've got the space
  • Potatoes ~ another item for the pantry if you've got the space and have fun with this one, there's russet, Yukon Gold (a personal favorite), red potatoes, fingerlings, new potatoes, purple/blue potatoes (great for grilling)
  • Garlic
  • Bananas

Another basic item to keep at the ready and fresh on your counter, a good loaf of bread.  Get away from the mass produced sliced stuff, spend the extra buck here and get a whole loaf, it tastes better.  And no, you don't want to store it in the fridge thinking it will extend its shelf life, it won't.  Putting bread in the fridge actually dries it out which means it won't hold up in a sandwich like it's supposed to and there's the loss of flavor thing.... 

So there you have it, a nicely stocked Bachelor on the Cheap pantry, fridge and freezer.  The nice thing is, you can build this up a little at a time.  Whenever you make a grocery list, refer to this article and add a few items from it to your grocery list.  You'll stock your pantry in no time.   And remember the best benefit:  Properly stocking a pantry leads to more cooking/baking/grilling, which means eating out less, eating better and saving money!

Save

Save

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)