How to Build a Frugal Pantry

A well-stocked pantry is the first step to a great dinner! There are several staples you should have around to minimise the chances of taking a lengthy list to the grocery store every time you cook. Additionally, by having the basics around, you’re less likely to dine out at a restaurant, grab something unhealthy on the go or waste money on an expensive order of delivery.

Below is a list of the most basic essentials to stock up with to ensure your kitchen is ready for anything. You can always modify based on your dietary restrictions or taste preferences.



Back to Basics Checklist


Cooking staples

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Chicken and/or beef stock or broth
  • Vegetable stock or broth
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Garlic cloves
  • Onions



  • Salt (fine)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili powder
  • Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sesame seeds
  • Curry powder



  • Sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Flour
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Yeast
  • Cocoa powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Evaporated milk
  • Chocolate chips
  • Honey
  • Corn starch


Grains and Starches

  • White rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Pasta (long noodles and bite-friendly)
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Potatoes


Sauces and Condiments

  • Soy sauce
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Hot sauce
  • Worcestershire
  • Jelly
  • Peanut butter



Taking Your Pantry to the Next Level

Once you have your pantry well-stocked, there are a few things you can do to sustain it and make it even better! Use the tips below to build the best pantry:

  • While you’ll spend a bit up front to stock your pantry to start, you’ll save in the long run. See if you can catch some sales or plan ahead with these couponing strategies.
  • An organised pantry is an efficient one! When you know where everything is, you can keep an eye on what you have available for your next meal and know what you need to restock. Use these seven inexpensive ideas to organise your pantry
  • Back in the day, people would have grown their own vegetables to meet their needs. While the grocery store is convenient, there are a few advantages to planting your own basic produce and herbs or re-growing vegetables from scratch.


Babs is a content writer at Enova International, Inc. with a Bachelors in Cinema Studies and English from the University of Illinois (ILL-INI!). She loves binge watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos! Find out more about her on Google+.


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