Michelle Jones, Frugal Mom of 4, Founder and Editor of BetterBudgeting
Michelle Jones, Founder
of BetterBudgeting

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Living a Better Life
(featured column... from the editor's desk)

Saving Money in the Kitchen: Pantry List

by Michelle Jones


Keeping a well stocked pantry will save you time and money throughout the year, and enable you to throw a quick dinner together on a moment's notice.  But it also takes time and money to stock up.  Whether you're just starting out with your own kitchen or starting over with a new one, my advice is to take things slowly and don't be in a rush to stock up too quickly--or you'll end up spending more money than you should!  


Take the time to purchase items on sale and use coupons if they're available, shop the discount stores, dollar stores and warehouse clubs (split large items with a friend or neighbor) and within 6-12 months you'll have a fully stocked kitchen that would make any cook proud. 


Everyone's kitchen may contain different items, because we all have different tastes (and family sizes), but here's my basic pantry list to get you started.  Once you have everything you need you can keep your kitchen well stocked by replacing items as they run out.    


Click here for our printer-friendly page!


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Basic Pantry List

Dry Goods:

Cream of Wheat
Dry Beans (black, pinto, navy, etc...)
Dry Cereals
Dry Milk Powder (will save you many trips to the store when you are running low on fresh milk)
Flour (all-purpose, and bread or wheat)
Granulated Sugar (and
Grits (if you're fortunate enough to live in the south, otherwise they can be difficult to find)
Jelly (grape, raspberry, strawberry preserves, etc...)
Long-grain White Rice and Brown Rice
Oatmeal (quick cooking and regular)
Pasta (spaghetti, fettuccini, elbows, penne, rigatoni, shells, twists, lasagna, wide egg noodles, etc...)
Peanut Butter (natural is best, stir and store in fridge)
Ramen Noodles


Biscuit Mix
Buttermilk Powder
Cake Mix
Coffee Creamer
Gravy Mix (warehouse clubs sell this by the pound!)
Pancake Mix
Peanuts, Other Nuts & Seeds (almonds, pecans, walnuts, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, etc... store in fridge)
Pudding and Jello Mixes 

Additional Baking Supplies:

Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Chocolate Chips

Condensed Milk
Confectioners' Sugar

Dark Brown Sugar
Evaporated Milk
Light Brown Sugar
Light Corn Syrup

Vanilla Extract (not flavoring)
Yeast Packets (store in fridge)


Almond Bark (melting chocolate)
Almond Extract
Brownie, Cake and Muffin Mixes (when on sale!)
Decorative Sugar and Sprinkles
Food Coloring 
Hershey's Cocoa Powder
Shredded Coconut (store in fridge)
Unsweetened Baking Chocolate 


Bay Leaves
Bouillon Cubes (chicken and beef)
Chili Powder
Onion Powder
Pepper (coarse ground)
Salt (low-sodium, Morton iodized and sea salt)


Celery Seeds
Curry Powder
Dry Mustard
Poppy Seeds
Sesame Seeds

Canned Goods:

Chicken Broth (or store your own in the freezer whenever you boil a chicken)
Fruit (sliced peaches, pears, pineapple, fruit cocktail - packed in their own juice!)
Soups (chicken noodle, tomato, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, etc...)
Tomatoes (diced, crushed) 
Tomato Paste
Tomato Sauce
Tuna (white albacore), or Chicken
Vegetables (baked beans, green beans, corn, peas, sliced mushrooms, etc...)


Crab Meat
Hot Dog Chili 
Pie Fillings
Spaghetti Sauce

Condiments & Misc.:

Barbecue Sauce
Canola Oil
Cooking Spray
Olive Oil
Pancake Syrup
Salad Dressing
Soy Sauce
Vegetable Shortening
Worcestershire Sauce


Apple Butter
Apple-Cider Vinegar
Bottled Water (for emergencies)
Olives (black or green)
Pickle Hamburger Chips 
Pickle Relish
Teriyaki Sauce

Bread: (as needed)

English Muffins
Hotdog or Hamburger Buns
Graham Crackers
Multi-Grain Bread
Ritz-like Crackers
Tortillas (low carb if available)

Perishable Items: (as needed)

Dairy (milk, eggs, real butter, margarine, cheese, sour cream, Cool Whip, ice cream, yogurt, etc...)
Fresh Fruit in Season or on Sale (apples, bananas, berries, oranges, grapes, melons, etc...)
Fresh Vegetables in Season or on Sale (asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, corn on the cob, green peppers, mushrooms, etc...) 
Meat, Fish & Poultry - whatever you like, as long as it's on sale!
Onions (yellow, sweet or red-which are actually purple)
Potatoes (white, small red, yellow/gold or sweet)
Salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, etc...)


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Copyright 2005 by Michelle Jones, author of Frugal Family Recipes. All rights reserved.

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