As the end of the year approaches and people are considering gift ideas, are you looking for frugal kitchen and pantry items you need or could give to someone else? I have 58 frugal kitchen and pantry items you need in your cupboards or separate pantry today.
If we can teach the world to go back to cooking from scratch at home as our parents and grandparents did, just think how self-reliant our country would be.
If you don’t have anyone to teach you these skills, I want to help teach you! I’m updating this post today because it’s critical the world knows how to cook from scratch. The items listed are mainly food related and don’t include typical kitchen and pantry items like toasters, coffee makers, blenders, mixers, slow cookers, and other small appliances, or pots, pans, griddles, mixing bowls, utensils, and so many other things we think of when considering meal preparation and serving.
Whether you’re a beginner prepper or a seasoned cook, the listed items are critical to making your food preparation as simple and complete as possible. I’ve included a short description of each item on the list just in case you may not have thought of using the item for a particular recipe or part of an entree to be served. I hope the list and description prove helpful.
Those of us who spend much of our day in the “heart of the home,” our kitchen, want what you might call a working pantry. That is one that is complete enough to make meal planning and preparation a breeze. We have all the food staples that are necessary as we enter our live-in kitchen, such that frequent visits to the store are a thing of the past for us. Whether is a large assortment of spices or a variety of condiments, we are prepared.
Frugal Kitchen and Pantry Items You Need
Do you love the smell of something cooking in the kitchen? I love it when I start a slow cooker with food in the morning because, for one thing, dinner is planned and will be ready in plenty of time.
If you can have even a small inventory of these items in your pantry or kitchen, you can cook so many meals day after day. The more we stay out of the supermarket or grocery stores the more money we save. I truly believe that having these items in your kitchen & pantry is a good thing for so many reasons.
Store what you use and eat what you store is the motto many of us try to follow every day as we add to our food storage inventory, and then use what we have. I’m excited to teach you what I know about the different items you need in your kitchen and pantry.
Items to Store
I’ve been cooking for a long time, I’ve been married for 53 years, and I’ve been able to show my children and my grandchildren how to cook. I’m leaving this list as a legacy. Anyone can refer to this list and realize the best items for their pantry and kitchen. The best part is that all of these items are budget-friendly.
- Flour: I store white bread flour (maximum shelf-life is 6-12 months). Of course, #10 cans commercially processed have a longer shelf life. I believe a shelf-life of 5 years for the #10 cans of flour is reasonable. Although I’ve noticed some with a shelf-life listed of 25 years, I personally would question that time frame. We can make bread, biscuits, pancakes, and cookies, to name just a few items with flour as the base ingredient. Some people like all-purpose flour, but my favorite is bread flour since it can also be used for many things besides just bread, and it has more protein. Give it a try and see how it works for you.
- Hard white whole wheat: you can make bread or barter the wheat if needed in your preparedness situation. I just stock up when I can and it’s there when I need it. Some people have been reluctant to store wheat and then grind it when needed. We’ve been grinding ours for years and feel confident we can make good use of the wheat in so many ways.
- Yeast: please store in the refrigerator for monthly use, and your excess yeast in the freezer in airtight containers. My favorite: is SAF YEAST. It is so important that your yeast, and most all your ingredients, are fresh to get the best results from your cooking and baking efforts.
- Baking soda: typically stores for a very long time (indefinitely), but it can be used for other things besides leavening. Be sure and check expiration dates. Another item that is best used when fresh.
- Baking powder: it will typically store for 9-12 months. Be sure and check the expiration on the container. You can make your own baking powder by combining half a teaspoon of cream of tartar and a quarter of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, this equals the equivalent of one teaspoon of baking powder. I love to learn about and use substitutes when necessary.
- Salt: stores indefinitely, but stock up if you can because this is a cheap item that everyone needs in their pantry. We have to steer clear of using a lot of salt in our recipes due to health issues as we age, but it is included in so many recipes that it becomes a “have-to-have” item.
- Instant milk: I buy #10 cans that are stored for 25 years under optimum temperatures. In other words, not my hot garage. I don’t use instant milk as a drink choice, although many families do. I just like having it around and often use it in place of fresh milk in many recipes.
- Honey: stores indefinitely. I tend to buy my honey in small 1/2 gallon or smaller containers so I can warm it with water to liquefy it if it has hardened. Five-gallon buckets are hard for me to pry out chunks for use if they have crystallized. I also keep some small one-pint containers in the fridge so I have honey available all the time.
- White sugar: stores indefinitely. It may clump, but you can break up the clumps with a spoon or fork.
- Oil: coconut oil has a longer shelf life than olive oil. The maximum shelf-life of olive oil is 12 months, depending on how old it was when you bought it at the store. Oils need to be stored in a dark cool place. Coconut oil will store longer, depending on the kind you buy. Every manufacturer has different expiration dates.
- Rice: white rice stores longer than brown rice. Brown rice has a shelf-life of six months because it is so oily, and becomes rancid very quickly. I love having rice in my storage stash since it can be used in so many of my meal plans. Note that a small amount goes a long way once it’s cooked.
- Canned chicken: for sandwiches or casseroles. You’ll be surprised how tasty canned chicken is and it’s really inexpensive. We buy most of ours at Costco and love it. We like to make a chicken salad and then use it in sandwiches with pickles, but also as a tasty salad with crackers.
- Canned roast beef: for sandwiches or casseroles. Another one of my favorite meats is canned roast beef, so yummy!
- Canned tuna: be careful with storing tuna because it can become mushy after a year or two. It’s great for sandwiches or casseroles.
- Mayonnaise: for sandwiches or casseroles. Mayo can be stored for a long time, but you can also make so many dishes out of it. Mark and I debate which is best to use on a sandwich, Mayo or Miracle Whip. We enjoy them both.
- Miracle Whip: yep, my husband introduced me to this awesome spread for sandwiches and casseroles. Please note, I started buying smaller jars so if we do have a power outage, I’ll still have some sandwich spread if we go days without power. Please remember, ice will be non-existent within hours after a power outage. Please store some gallons of water in your freezer that you could transfer to a camping cooler, if needed, to help protect your perishable food items.
- Oatmeal: is a great frugal food to store. I always think of hot cereal and cookies, and we can use them to stretch a hamburger casserole. Our kids loved oatmeal for breakfast for many years.
- Beans: here’s the deal with beans, you can buy bulk beans, canned beans, and bags of beans. If you have a can opener, you can eat those babies right out of the can, if you had to. Talk about a frugal food staple!!! Add some spices and we are set for any meal. I recently wrote a post about how to make a 16-bean soup, you ought to check it out.
- Popcorn: I love popcorn freshly popped with butter and salt. Got to have it in your inventory!
- Lemon juice: awesome for cooking or drinking. I love it with green tea and honey.
- Tomato paste: you can make pizza, spaghetti sauce and so much more. Don’t forget to keep tomato paste in your pantry, it’s great for so many meals.
- Tomato sauce: you can make casseroles, soups, and spaghetti, to name a few meals. Tomato paste and tomato sauce are not the same thing.
- Tomato flakes: great for soups.
- Canned tomatoes: can make so many things like soup, chili, and stir-fried dishes. I have made tons of delicious dishes with canned tomatoes. Have I given you enough reasons to store tomato products?!
- Cream of chicken soup: I buy this one by the case. Sorry, I don’t make it from scratch. I’ve tried many recipes from scratch and they can’t beat my Campbell’s cream of chicken soup. I often use it to thicken up my other chicken soups, and it adds a real creamy texture and delicious flavor. Try it, you’ll love it.
- Cream of mushroom soup: is great as a soup or used in casseroles or when you want creamy soups. YES! You need to have this on hand.
- Black olives: need I say more? I can picture my grandkids with their fingertips covered with olives. These are great for pizzas, salads, casseroles, or snacks. Life is good!
- Powdered sugar: for frosting. I can smell the sugar cookies baking right now! If you don’t have powdered sugar, you can easily use your blender with regular sugar to make your own powdered sugar.
- Cocoa: premixed for hot cocoa or hot chocolate. This is great to use on cold days if the power is out.
- Unsweetened cocoa: to make your own cocoa mix or for cookies, cakes, etc. It’s amazing how many different dishes unsweetened cocoa can make!
- Vanilla: It is awesome to add some flavor to so many drinks, baked goods recipes, and more.
- Coffee and tea: to drink or barter with. Tea has a lot of health benefits, especially green tea.
- Paper Products: plates, cups, and plastic silverware for emergencies. You don’t want to have to use all your stored water to keep the dishes and utensils clean.
- Foil: can be used inside the home and outside the home. I always have two or three boxes stored. I often use it to cover items I’m putting in the freezer, particularly if I run out of freezer bags. Many oven-baked meals call for foil to cover the baking dish while in the oven.
- Bags: whether gallon size, quart, or sandwich size. I watch for sales and stock up for the year.
- Spices: rotate your spices and replace them as needed. We can make any meal tastier with our favorite spices.
- Pasta: whole wheat pasta has a shorter life, so be sure and check for expiration dates. I buy some pasta in bags as well as some #10 cans for extended shelf-life. We love to make so many dishes using pasta. Like rice, it is fairly inexpensive and can stretch a meal further.
- Peanut butter: does not store indefinitely, so watch the dates. Rancid peanut butter is not safe to eat. Kids love peanut butter, as do many adults. It is a very versatile food that comes in handy for cookies, sandwiches, and special bars when mixed with chocolate. We always have two or three small containers on the shelf.
- Jams and jelly: to make toast or sandwiches. There are so many different options. Mark and I enjoy jams more than jellies. He loves berry jams the most. I like peach and apricot jam on toast in the morning. It gets my day started right.
- Maple syrup: is great for French toast, waffles, pancakes, or Ebelskivers by FSM
- Ketchup: for scrambled eggs, meal recipes, and a condiment for meals. Even tastes great when used as a French fry sauce for dipping.
- Barbecue sauce: is great for baked beans, barbecued meats, etc. We have found Kinder’s to be one of our favorites, and you can order it online for home delivery, if your store doesn’t stock it.
- Salad dressings: I make a lot of mine from scratch, but sometimes if certain ones are on sale I’ll pick up one or two to save myself time and money. We make our own Ranch using fresh buttermilk and one of the packaged dressing mixes. Mark is a Thousand Island kinda guy.
- Vinegar: I use all the different flavors, including Balsamic vinegar.
- Canned vegetables: great to add to so many meals. You can eat them right out of the can if you had to after a disaster. Plus you can use the water in soups.
- Frozen vegetables: are my favorite to buy for a month’s worth of storage in our freezer because there is no waste.
- Tortillas: a must-have in my house. I have some great tortilla recipes if you can use them. Tortillas by Food Storage Moms. I could have Mexican food every night, I really could. My favorite tortilla makers: Tortilla Maker
- Salsa: I could put salsa on everything, I like to buy mild because my husband doesn’t like it too spicy.
- Chicken broth or chicken bouillon: is critical in my home. I use it for cooking chicken, casseroles, soups, etc.
- Butter: if I have butter I can put it on toast, scramble eggs, and use it in so many recipes.
- Sweetened condensed milk: did I hear caramel corn??? Here is the best recipe in the world: Caramel Corn by Food Storage Moms
- Corn syrup: yes, they make it without high fructose syrup now. I use it in my caramel corn above.
- Fresh ground beef: is great in spaghetti, hamburgers, and chili, to name just a few meals.
- Fresh or frozen chicken: you can cook ahead of time, chop or shred and bag it for freezing to use later in sandwiches, casseroles, chili, etc.
- Eggs: are frugal even at the higher prices lately. Eggs can be used in so many dishes, as well as fried, hard-boiled, scrambled, etc. I use them in so many recipes as well.
- Pet food: Don’t forget your pet’s food. Yes, please don’t forget your pet’s food!
- Vegetable spray: I use a lot of it when baking or cooking. I have to laugh, when I stayed at my daughter’s I went through two whole cans. I was there for four weeks. Gotta love it!
- Cans or jars of various fruits: these are great for side dishes. Of course, fresh tastes the best, but it sure is nice knowing you have some canned fruit to grab and eat out of the jar, or a can, if you are in a hurry.
Please share your frugal kitchen and pantry items you think I should add to my list, I would love it. One thing I use for keeping pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and waffles warm is this tortillas keeper gem: Norpro Tortilla Pancake Keeper.
If you don’t have many of the items on this list, go ahead and slowly start adding them. When you go to the store, you can slowly add one or two things each and every week. This is also a frugal way to build up the frugal kitchen and pantry items you need.
If you have a thrift store near you, go grab as many of the old-time “cooking from scratch” cookbooks as you can possibly use. Let’s show the world we can cook from scratch and love it! May God bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Easter Baking AdobeStock_255591558 by Maglara, Kitchen Supplies AdobeStock_398190817 by Pixel-Shot