How to Stock Your Pantry for Under $100

How to Stock Your Pantry for Under $100

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Can you use some help on how to stock your pantry for under $100? You open up your kitchen cabinets and pantry and find them bare or at minimal levels, while at the same time, your bank account seems to be on life support. To make matters worse, you have several hungry mouths to feed during these tough times!

I’m updating this post because of the shortages I am reading about. Please work to be prepared for whatever is coming our way. Having a well-stocked pantry is so satisfying and confidence-building.

Chances are, you’ve experienced this at one point or another before, and know that it’s no laughing matter. Maybe this is a reality that you’re currently dealing with and you’re wondering how you’ll be able to put food on the table and still stay anywhere near the food budget you’ve outlined. 

Fortunately, there are a number of different strategies on how to stock up your pantry when you’re on a limited budget, and it won’t require you to eat Ramen noodles every meal to do it. Whew! Some of them are also helpful tips when you’re looking to establish a pantry for emergency situations as well. Here’s how to stock your pantry for under $100. In case you missed this post, 100 Low Budget Meals Anyone Will Love Every Day

Please get a few can openers, a Regular Size Can Opener or a Large Can Opener, and for me or anyone with arthritis, an Electric Can Opener. My motto is to buy right the first time so you don’t find yourself having to replace a necessary item sooner than you ever expected.

How to Stock Your Pantry for Under $100

How To Stock Your Pantry For Under $100

Clean Out Your Pantry 

This may be something that doesn’t seem to make sense with today’s topic, but there are a number of reasons why you should do this. For starters, cleaning out your pantry helps you get rid of any food that may be outdated or something that your family will never eat. Just remember that the date on the label is the sell-by date unless it’s marked another way.

Most foods are going to be good to eat beyond the sell-by date. We also see the term, “best when used by.” Again, that is the date it would still be considered well within the edible range for most families if stored properly. 

It also allows you to take inventory and see what you’re actually dealing with. You may be surprised what you’ll find that’s been sitting there all this time and available for you to create a meal. In fact, there may be several immediate meals waiting for you, which only require one item for you to pick up at the grocery store to make the meal complete. 

Once you determine what you actually have available and what needs to be added or replaced, you can put together your game plan to acquire only what is needed.  

Pay Attention to the Weekly Ads 

Stocking your pantry on a budget may require more time and planning on your part, but looking at each store’s weekly ad has a number of benefits. Yes, this may require you to make multiple grocery store stops during your shopping trip, but you’ll be satisfied to know that you found the cheapest price on what you needed, and hopefully without having to drive all over town.

Another reason for you to pay attention to ad flyers is that they often have coupons and other discounts for you to take advantage of in their stores. Also, looking at the ads before you visit can give you time to look in your pantry and see what meals you can create with the items on sale, alongside what you already have on hand.

You’ll probably find that many of the items on sale are “store brands” that they promote. These products tend to be priced below name-brand products that carry a heavy advertising budget. My experience is that in most cases the store brands do a good job at matching the quality of the name brands, with a few exceptions. If you haven’t used them before, test them out over the next few weeks and see what you think. 

Shop the Cheapest Store

You’re not doing yourself any favors by continuing to be a loyal customer of a grocery store that is known for its higher prices. When you’re not shopping off of the ad flyer, at least make sure that you’re shopping at one of the less expensive stores in town. Depending on where you live, that less expensive option could be Aldi, Piggly Wiggly, or Trader Joe’s. All of them have private labels that are comparable with the national brands and you’ll wind up paying a lot less.

I’m all for purchasing good quality products, but there isn’t any reason to pay more for similar items. You do have to consider which stores are more local and that there is an additional cost to travel a fair distance to get things for a lower price. Take some time to figure out your overall costs and then visit and support the stores that will be more cost-effective, all things considered. 

Read More of My Articles  Baked French Fries

Purchase Non-Perishable Items In Bulk

Are there any foods that you find your family eating quite often? It may be time for you to consider buying them in bulk. Dried beans, lentils, rice, and oats are all items that can be stored for a longer period of time and you can find them in 20 lb and even 50 lb bags. Though you’ll be paying more money upfront, making the decision to buy your nonperishables in bulk can save you a bunch of money over time while saving on the items when you consider the cost per ounce or pound.

Another thing to consider is if you are purchasing in larger quantities you may be saving the number of trips you have to take to the store, thus saving time, gas for the vehicle, and the related maintenance expenses over time. We don’t always consider that our personal time does have value, if not only providing more quality time with family and friends.

Stick With Water

You may have a few unhappy campers under your roof for a while, but cutting out all the “special” beverages from your grocery shopping visit is another biggie. It’s not healthy for your family to be drinking pop and energy drinks all the time. Yes, that even includes no longer buying bottled water when you visit since it can prove to be more expensive than storing water in larger containers.

Some of you may find that your tap water is unfit to drink. That may prompt you to consider the option of buying a water filter for your refrigerator that will remove many impurities in your tap water. I highly recommend installing a Reverse Osmosis system. If you are handy, you can install one yourself for around $300.00 or less. Then once a year clean out the tubes and install new filters for under $100.00. You will never buy bottled water again, and that’s a good thing.

We’ve also found that things like humidifiers get less dirty and last longer with the reverse osmosis water. That saves having to buy distilled water from the store too, which can prove expensive over the long term.

Grocery Shop Alone

While we love our children to the moon and back, if you have the option to do your grocery shopping without them, don’t feel guilty in doing so. Yes, that even means leaving your spouse behind, who can be just as troublesome. That way you’re not walking out to your car with items that were placed in your cart by others based on their wants, and you’re able to focus on maximizing your value with every dollar that you spend.  

Penny-Pinching Foods:

There are several food items out there that are not only relatively cheap but still contain all the nutrition that you want your family to benefit from. Here are a few of them to consider: 


Large eggs can usually be found for right around $2.00 a dozen, or even less. Eggs have risen in price this year, along with many other food items, so in your area, they may be slightly higher. That’s cheap for the amount of protein and the number of meals you can create with them. You’ll need them for baking purposes, for breakfast, or in your egg drop soup.  

Dried Beans

A large bag of dried beans will cost you considerably less than what you’d pay for them in canned form. There are also many different types of beans out there, allowing you to create different dishes, whether you’re in the mood for chili, soup, tortillas, or some other bean dish. 


Rice is also super cheap and can stretch several of your meals. With the right spices and seasonings, the rice shouldn’t have to taste the same for every meal. If you need a rice cooker, check this one out: Rice Cooker

I had recently heard that rice was experiencing an increase in price, and also a shortage of inventory. Mark and I visited three stores yesterday and found that some store shelves did seem to be depleted. If you love rice, you may want to stock up now before things are dicey.


Oatmeal is a great breakfast item that’s not only filling, but it’s actually healthy too. That is if you avoid purchasing prepackaged sweetened varieties. If you know where to look, you can find oatmeal for under a dollar a pound. 

Peanut Butter 

There’s not a week that goes by where you won’t find a deal on peanut butter when you shop the ads. Besides, it’s a food item that you won’t be able to go without if you have children in your family. Peanut butter has plenty of protein and can be used in a number of different ways besides on a PB&J sandwich. 


A bag of potatoes will cost you very little and you can use them to make several different meals other than baked or mashed potatoes. They can be used to make soup, in a casserole, or a yummy diced garlic roasted potatoes entree for breakfast. Please stock some instant mashed potatoes or Potato Shreds.

Mark and I saw the Idahoan brand of instant potatoes at Wal-Mart yesterday for $1.12 per package. What a deal! We’ve grown to love their products and they come in a wide range of flavor options. I’ve been very surprised that the texture, flavor, and consistency of the finished product taste just like freshly peeled and cooked mashed potatoes.

What Should Be In A Fully Stocked Pantry?

The items Listed Below are the Ones I Recommend You Stock Up On Now:

  • Flour: here’s the deal with flour, you can make so many things to fill the belly. Bread, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, pasta, biscuits, etc. How to Make Biscuits
  • SAF Yeast: this is my favorite yeast I use it in all my bread recipes that call for yeast. Make sure you keep it stored properly so it works and tastes right. I generally keep mine in the fridge most of the time. Fresh yeast helps make for a successful day of bread baking.
  • Salt: we need to cook, bake, and flavor our food. I love Redmond Salt the most.
  • Vinegar: we can use this for cooking and cleaning. Don’t forget our homemade salad dressings.
  • Condiments: please stock ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Some people think Miracle Whip is also a necessity.
  • Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, or Canola Oil:
  • Garlic Powder: I prefer fresh garlic, but I still stock garlic powder and garlic salt.
  • Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, Oregano, Paprika, Thyme, Basil, Nutmeg, and Chili Powder, please stock them because you can make so many recipes with these fun spices.
  • Soy Sauce: what can I say, I love Chinese food, so I stock several bottles. But I make so many things with it besides Chinese food. I make marinades with it on a routine basis.
  • Rice: we are in for some rice shortages, my friends. I would stock what you can now. I prefer to buy 2 and 5-pound bags and slip them into 5-gallon buckets. I only purchase Non-GMO brands.
  • Almonds/Pecans/Walnuts: The best way to store any kind of nut is in the freezer. They will go rancid rather quickly in your pantry, but we still like them even if we have to store them in the freezer.
  • Corn: it’s my understanding we are in for another corn shortage, so if you can, dehydrate what you can or pressure can some fresh corn. Don’t forget you can dehydrate frozen corn.
  • Quinoa: you can eat cooked quinoa as a side dish, or use it in a salad with so many add-ons.
  • Lentils: it’s the perfect food item to stretch your food budget. Janet taught me about using lentils in so many ways, I will forever be grateful. Lentils: Everything You Need to Know
  • White Sugar: whatever sweetener you love to use, please stock it. It can be white granulated sugar, maple syrup, Stevia, or honey.
  • Vanilla: I love the flavor of vanilla for cooking and baking, it adds so much to every recipe it’s called for.
  • Molasses: I need a few bottles for baking, cooking, and making brown sugar. How to Make Brown Sugar
  • Pasta: oh my gosh, you can make pasta dishes with cream sauces, spaghetti sauce, or macaroni salads to name a few ideas.
  • Canned Tomatoes: I’m talking about diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, salsa, and spaghetti sauce. Just be sure to stock what your family will eat.
  • Canned Vegetables: now, these can be any vegetable your family will eat. They can be a side dish, or add them to soups and stews.
  • Canned Chicken: let’s just say any canned meat, shredded beef, tuna, and ham, but chicken is my favorite. You can make sandwiches, casseroles, soups, or stews with canned meats.
  • Dehydrated Onions: these are perfect to add to gravy, casseroles, soups, or stews. The flavor they add is awesome!
  • Dehydrated Celery: the convenience to have dehydrated celery or freeze-dried celery is a bonus for me. I use them in soups and casseroles
  • Cocoa: yep, we need this for hot chocolate and chocolate cake, need I say more? Of course, storing regular chocolate is a must as well. Chocolate chips of various sizes and flavors are a must-have in my pantry.
  • Cinnamon: I love cinnamon on apples, oatmeal, muffins, and more.
  • Dehydrated Vegetables: it’s wonderful to have some dehydrated vegetables to add to soups or stews.
  • Dehydrated Red Peppers: green and yellow peppers are good, but red ones are my favorite. You can add them to quiches, omelets, soups, and casseroles.
  • Chickpeas: I love these added to quinoa for salads, to make hummus, or stir in a little oil and fry them until crispy.
  • Beans: we can make soup with beans, hummus with beans, refried beans, or bean soup, the possibilities are endless.
  • Spices: In case you missed this post, 33 Essential Spices I Recommend Stocking Up On. Note that herbs are also handy to have around when you’re doing your meal planning.
Read More of My Articles  What to Store in Your Pantry for an Emergency

Other Savings Options:

Don’t Be Tempted By Impulse Purchases

I mention above that you might want to leave other family members at home when you go food shopping. Kids and spouses can often lose sight of the goal to fill the pantry with quality items needed for meal prep and healthy meals. We’d be kidding ourselves if we thought we weren’t also subject to the impulse to buy items on display, particularly close to the checkout stand.

When you go shopping it’s wise to bring your shopping list and try your best to stick to it. You’ll be glad you did.

What Are Case Lot Sales?

In our area here in Utah, we see annual case lot sales this time of year. The stores will advertise various items, particularly canned veggies, soups, sauces, and other common non-perishable canned goods at a discount if you’re willing to purchase a whole case at a time.

This is when I always stock up on my favorite soups, like Cream of Chicken, Cream of Mushroom, Chicken Noodle, and others. I feel so confident and comfortable when I look in my pantry and see shelves full of these products. It also gives me joy to know that I filled that pantry with items I bought at a discount by shopping wisely. You can do the same.

Final Word

Even if you’re not on a tight budget, these tips can still be useful in helping you save money. It also doesn’t require you to sacrifice your family’s nutrition in order for you to do it.  Stocking your pantry for less than $100 may require you to shop differently than what you did before, but it will be well worth it for your checking account. May God Bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Wooden Bowls with Beans and Legumes Deposit photos_230175204_s-2019

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  1. Great post! We do use most of them. I like to buy the biggest bulk foods that we can. Dried of course. I also shop the sales, just like my mother taught me. She would go the the farthest store, the main one she shopped at, and shopped the sales on the way back home. She did this as long as I can remember. We always had plenty to eat. We always had extra food stored. She was born in 1928, and knew to be frugal. She taught me that through actions. I do miss her so much. She left us in 2007.

  2. Gosh, Linda…. your eggs are a dollar a dozen?? I am paying between 3.50 and 6 for a dozen of free-range. I won’t consume factory eggs.

    Anyway, my purpose for writing is that you alerting us to the RO water unit eliminating the need for distilled water made me really think. We have an RO unit, but I have been following instructions and buying distilled for my C-PAP machine. I was not thinking it through. Well, I’m not buying it any more!!!

    Thank you very much. I will not be consulting with the manufacturer, because I believe I understand the science behind the RO and the distillation process.

  3. Loved this article as it brought up memories of shopping with my mother but also shopping after my second son was born ( 16 yrs after my first): I’d put the baby with my oldest at 5am, grocery shop! Far less junk food and a lot easier than having both with me. Zoom to today: I now try to Make my 2 sons and my grandson (2 yrs younger than my youngest) come into the store with me, as I’d like their feedback, suggestions. And, lol, their muscle when I buy bulk. Your article is so practical: cleaning out pantry also gives an idea of past impulse buys, which sure don’t help stocking for under $100. And, fewer trips does help with transportation costs. Peace to all!

    1. Hi Wendy, it’s crazy when I organize my pantry, I see stuff that I forgot about. I have a teeny tiny pantry with sticks put between the cans in my kitchen. Isn’t it wonderful to have sons help lift the bulk stuff? I had my granddaughter living here for a year while she went to school. She helped us with so many things. She was so fun to have around too! We live about 10-12 miles from the nearest grocery store and even though we only have one car which gets great mileage, I do not like shopping. So the less I have to go to any store, the better. Like you said fewer trips and transportation costs. Stay well, Linda

  4. Yes, it is important to buy where you get the best deal. Here Trader Joe’s and Safeway are among the most expensive. I shop at Winco and Walmart and occasionally at Costco. Also, at Cash and Carry which is open to everyone but deals with large quantities. They are excellent for large sacks of oats, beans, sugar ,etc. Whatever saves you money is great!

    1. Hi Cheryl, I totally agree wherever we can get the best deal and quality. I wish a Trader Joes was here just so I could get a certain Christmas cookie!! LOL! Funny but true! We have limited choices here and we do not have an Aldi or Winco. But it’s all good! Linda

  5. This is how we always shopped. Picture….. nursing baby daughter at 5am, putting her back to bed, dressing for work, leaving an hour earlier then necessary, with a cooler and ice pack in the car….Each day hitting the sale specials at one of 4 stores I shopped on the way to work. Worked eight hours, meet husband in parking lot, trading kids, go home do dinner, homework, laundry, sleep….. and repeat….. I need a nap just thinking about it… if it wasn’t on sale, we didn’t need it.

    1. Hi Chris, wow, those were the days. We didn’t have time to be exhausted!!! Boy, does that bring back memories! I remember the term, “groundhog day”, we did the same thing every day. I’ve told my daughters being a mom is the hardest but most fulfilling job in the world. Great comment! Linda

  6. Linda, I enjoy reading your posts and the comments. I did not know that using RO would mean not needing to buy distilled water for my CPAP or my wife’s iron. Our water here is very hard so most of our drinking water comes from our filtered refrigerator tap.

    You really get eggs for less than a dollar a dozen? I have chickens and with the cost of feed I suspect MY eggs cost around that. My six birds lay between 3-5 eggs per day so I always have plenty. Those numbers will slack off during Winter due to lack of daylight. This Fall and Winter I’m studying up on the best ways to grow my own chicken food and next Spring I plan to start doing that.

    1. Hi Ray, in order to get them that cheap you have to buy 5 dozen at a time. They usually cost $3.99 or $4.99 for 60 eggs! We split them with neighbors too! They will never be eggs like what your chickens lay, but they work for us. Linda

  7. Hello Linda,
    I am trying to rebuild my water storage. I had to sell my 50 gallon barrels when we moved.
    I just purchased some portable water bricks and purification drops, also water bottles with filter straws for each family member.
    Do you have a recommendation for an outside water collection barrel?
    Can you recommend a RO to purchase?

    1. Hi Wendy, I haven’t purchased a water collection barrel yet, it’s on my wish list. We bought our RO from a plumber because we are not plumbers (LOL). We have built houses and done electrical but plumbing we hire out! I saw them online from Costco for under $300 but you have to install them yourself under your kitchen sink. This looks like ours but they all look the same. You just need to be able to get new filters every year and clean out the tubes. Our plumber comes once a year for about $95.00 to replace the filters and check the pressure, and clean the tubes, etc. I hope this helps, Linda

  8. Thank you! You are always very helpful! I looked on Amazon for the best ratings on water collection barrels and they reviewed the top five. I think I found a decent one for around $100. I want to use it to water my little garden. Taking baby steps here and there.

  9. I wish you would open your Facebook group back up. It was so helpful to see the discussions on shortages. Now that they are happening in my area I don’t have a place to turn to . You provided a needed service.

    1. Hi Renee, you are so kind. I wish the members were as nice as you. I’ve been antsy to get it back up and running. Renee, I will open today, fingers crossed we can keep the mean people out and block them. Thank you, my friend, Linda

  10. RO is great, we have been using the same coffee machine–that came from a thrift store– for over twenty years due to RO water! It is not best for plants, though as they need the minerals. I have a small jug that I fill with tap water and let sit open to allow the chlorine to dissipate for my plants. Linda, I would add nutmeg on your spice list for rice pudding, especially! God bless you all!

    1. Hi Jan, I love RO water!! Great tip about letting the water sit open to dissipate the chlorine. Good one! I’m adding nutmeg right now. I just loaded up on a lot of white rice. We will all need it! Thank you! Linda

  11. Hi Linda! Grrrreat post! Those tips are very helpful, thank you. Your link for the Rice Cooker took us to the potato shreds. I look at all your recommendations as well. You are such a resource; it’s sad to me when I share with my daughters, I don’t get feedback, but I’ll just “keep on truckin”, that’s for sure! They will come around…

  12. Hi…, my rice cooking link takes me to the potato shreds 🙂 I have been looking for a stainless steel rice cooker —not aluminum . Curious what you recommended ? Def going to get the can opener as I too have arthritis some days! Thanks

      1. It looks like a nice one! Thank you for sharing it! It really helps to eliminate all the searching and reading reviews! I enjoy all of your posts, thank you!

  13. I have been canning like crazy this year. I hope I just eat well, and everything is fine, but it is nice to know I am ready in case. Thanks for all your tips.

  14. When things are dire, any food will be better than nothing, but we have to balance the pros and cons of our food choices. I read labels, but in dire situations we can tolerate and may need extra calories be it carbs or fat and tolerate a little more sodium. Better to be nourished than weak and starving.

    I tend to think of the staples (wheat, oatmeal, salt, sugar, flour, evaporated milk, honey, cooking oils) first. And then canned foods, dry foods and what I’d stock in my fridge or freezer. Logically, as long as we have power, we should take advantage of this resource. But I like jelly, butter, cheese mayonnaise and other things that require refrigeration.

    But due to shortages and price increases, if I see a good buy I consider it logical to buy those items that have been reduced or suddenly seem to be cheaper. And then I’d adapt and use the recipes that will call for the foods I have. It even encourages me to have a wider diet.

    And we can expand the essentials to include vinegar, baking powder, baking soda, and non-food items like borax, chlorine (liquid, tablet or granule) and mineral oil to protect metal. And we must have sponges, scouring pads, dish soap, and steel wool pads, and a couple of small screwdrivers to care for our cookware. And we might want parchment and butcher paper and aluminum foil for baking.

    1. Hi Frank, you nailed it, my friend! We need to live for today and learn to adapt as we go along. Your last paragraph reminds me to post about those items again. Thank you!! Great comment, Linda

  15. Hey Frank…….butter and jelly never need refrigeration…..I just leave them on the table or counter like my mother did when I was born before WWII There are quite a few other items that do not need refrigeration…..Linda, you might want to cover that in a future subject.

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