18 Food Items You Should Always Keep in Your Pantry

Here are the best pantry staples to keep on hand at all times

This list of 18 food items that you should always keep in your pantry, will help you create frugal, healthy, and quick meals. When you keep these pantry staples on hand, dinner time is so much smoother. These items will help you to feel great about your grocery budget and what you’re feeding your family.

I would highly recommend buying in bulk, the items you know your family loves, to get the best bang for your buck.

This list of 18 food items that you should always keep in your pantry, will help you create frugal, healthy, and quick meals.

1. Nut or Seed Butter

Nut butters and seed butters are not only great for sandwiches, but can be a great addition to sauces and baking!

2. Pasta

Pasta allows for so many meal options! And with a variety of pastas on the market for various dietary needs, pasta is a real family favourite.

3. Rice or Quinoa

Having rice or quinoa on hand allows for great nutritious side dish options that cook quickly.

4. Canned beans

Dry beans are a great inexpensive option as well, but for quick meals, canned is the way to go! Here are some I like to keep on hand: Pinto, Chickpeas, Garbanzo, Kidney, Black, Cannellini and Refried.

5. Canned tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are so versatile they can be used in things like chili, soups, fajitas, spaghetti and more! I like to have these in my pantry: Tomato Sauce, Diced Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes and Tomato Paste.

6. Spices

No meal is complete without some seasoning from spices! Even if it’s just pepper and salt! Here are some of my favourite spices that get regular use around here: Onion powder, Garlic powder, Ginger, Cumin, Seasoned Salt, Cinnamon, Salt, Black Pepper, Chili Powder, Dried Basil and Dried Oregano.

7. Applesauce

Applesauce is a great food staple to store in the pantry because it can be used to replace oil in a crunch. It binds all the ingredients together while baking things like cookies, loafs and cakes. If stored properly, it can last 12 to 18 months on the shelf.

8. Canned Tuna

Canned tuna or salmon are excellent sources of protein and omegas that don’t have to be cooked.

9. Stock or Broth

Pre-made stock or broth makes so many meals faster and easier. Some varieties that I like to have on hand are: Chicken, Vegetable, Beef, Bouillon cubes or powder.

10. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a breakfast staple in a lot of homes, especially when the temperature gets cold in the winter. Not only does it make for a great hearty breakfast, it can be used to make oatmeal cookies, granola bars and even bread.

11. Baking Ingredients

Having staple baking ingredients on hand at all times will save you big bucks on your grocery bill. It’s always so much cheaper (and tastier) to create from scratch than to buy something pre-made. Here are the baking ingredients I suggest you have on hand: Flour, Sugar (white, brown and powdered), baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, yeast, oats and chocolate chips.

12. Condensed soups

While you can make your own cream of “something” soups, I highly recommend having a few cans of condensed soup on hand to make meal prep really easy on hectic days.

13. Condiments

Having condiments on hand at all times is something else I recommend to make delicious meals. Here are the ones we regularly keep on hand: Ketchup, mustard, dijon, soy sauce, vinegar (white, apple cider, red wine, rice), BBQ sauce, Worcestershire, honey, maple syrup, peanut butter, mayonnaise and salad dressing.

This list of 18 food items that you should always keep in your pantry, will help you create frugal, healthy, and quick meals.

14. Pasta sauce

Spaghetti is a meal that is on regular rotation here. I don’t over complicate it by having a few jars of pasta sauce on hand. Sometimes I like to add some fresh vegetables like carrots or mushrooms to jazz it up a bit along with the usual ground beef.

15. Tortillas

Tortilla shells are so versatile. They work for taco night, pizzas, wraps and so much more! I even have a recipe for making your own! See the homemade tortilla recipe here.

16. Potatoes

Potatoes can keep for a long time if they are kept in a cool dark place! The same goes for sweet potatoes too.

17. Frozen vegetables

I prefer having frozen vegetables over canned vegetables because I find they are more cost effective and I can control the sodium. (I always have fresh on hand too!) Frozen vegetables make for great quick side dishes and additions to soups or casseroles.

18. Cooking oil

My favourites are olive oil, grapeseed oil and avocado oil. I use each of those oils for stove top cooking, but I only use grapeseed oil and avocado oil for baking because they don’t have a strong flavor.

Related pantry staple articles:

In case you need some easy cheap meal ideas that you can create with some of these staples, I created a list of ideas for you!

Pantry Staple Meals

  • Quesadillas: Butter one side of a tortilla shell, place grated cheese and other toppings (meat, salsa, tomatoes, peppers…etc), then fold the tortilla in half and fry until lightly browned and cheese is melted.
  • BBQ Chicken: Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker and pour a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce over top. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours. Shred chicken with a fork and serve over buns or potatoes.
  • Spaghetti: Brown some ground beef and stir in a jar of pasta sauce after draining the grease. Red lentils also work really well in pasta sauce! Boil your favorite pasta noodles.
  • Italian Chicken: Place chicken breast in the slow cooker and pour a bottle of Italian dressing over tip. Cook on high for 3 – 4 hours or low for 5 – 6 hours. Shred with a fork.
  • Tacos: Brown a pack of ground beef, turkey or chicken. Drain the grease. Add a packet of taco seasoning and some water. (You can also make your own taco seasoning.) Serve in tortilla shells or crunchy taco shells with your favorite toppings.
  • Pizza: Using a homemade pizza crust, store bought crust, tortilla shell, naan bread, pita bread or even bagels, spread pizza sauce over top and sprinkle with mozzarella and your favorite toppings. Bake at 400℉ for about 15 minutes.
  • French Toast: Mix 2 eggs with 2/3 cup milk. Dip 6 pieces of thick bread into the mixture until fully coated. Cook in a frying pan on medium heat. Flip once, until both sides are browned.
  • Pork Chops with Cream of Mushroom or Chicken Soup: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pork chops in an oven safe dish. Mix cream of mushroom or chicken soup with water until smooth. Pour over pork chops then bake for about 25 minutes or until the pork reaches a minimum of 145 °F in the middle. Serve with rice or potatoes.

What are some of your go-to meals using pantry staples? Any staples you would add to my list?

18 of the best pantry staples to have on hand to create delicious, budget meals.

Missing an Ingredient? Here’s an Easy Guide on How to Replace It

Don't let your recipes get thwarted by a missing ingredient – use one of these easy substitutions instead!

There’s nothing more frustrating than starting to bake or cook something delicious only to find that a key ingredient is missing. Ugh! But there’s no need to scrub a recipe and sulk in frustration. If you know what you’re doing, you can just substitute it with something else! Here are a couple of ingredients that are bound to be in everyone’s pantry or fridge and are a dish-saving substitutes.

Read on to see the complete list, or download your own printable PDF copy using the button below. (I recommend hanging it up somewhere in your kitchen for easy reference!)

Vegetable oil

Substitute with butter, margarine, coconut oil or apple sauce

Apple Cider Vinegar

Substitute with white vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar

Substitute with apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

Tomato Sauce

Substitute by mixing one part Tomato Paste and one part Water.
Or substitute with canned tomatoes and adding onions, garlic and some herbs.

Baking Powder (1tsp)

Substitute with 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Bread Crumbs

Substitute with cracker crumbs, crushed cornflakes, ground oatmeal, or even cooked quinoa.

Brown Sugar (1 Cup)

Substitute with 1 cup white sugar and 2 Tbsp molasses.

Butter

Substitute with margarine, oil or shortening

Buttermilk (1 cup)

Substitute with 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar and enough milk to make 1 cup
Or substitute with 1 cup plain yogurt

Corn Syrup

Substitute with honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup

Ricotta Cheese

Substitute with cottage cheese or cream cheese.

Fresh herbs (1 Tbsp)

Substitute with 1 tsp dried herbs

Honey (1 Cup)

Substitute with maple syrup, corn syrup or 1 1/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup liquid (whatever is called for in the recipe)

Lemon Juice

Substitute with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Mayonnaise

Substitute with sour cream or plain yogurt

Wine

Substitute with beef broth, chicken broth, vegetable broth, apple cider (not vinegar), water, tomato sauce, white grape juice or non-alcoholic wine.

Yeast (1 tsp)

Substitute with 1/2 tsp Baking Soda and 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice

Rice

Substitute with Quinoa. (Quinoa also provides twice as much protein and fiber which promote a healthier digestive system.)

Eggs

Substitute with 1 Tbsp ground Flax Seeds or Chia Seeds and 3 Tbsp Water. Mix until gelatinous.
Or substitute with silken tofu.
Or substitute with apple sauce or mashed banana

Pastry Flour (1 cup)

Substitute with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch combined with enough all-purpose flour to make a cup.

Salt

Often times, substituting salt for herbs and other seasonings like onions, lemon or lime can make a dish taste really flavourful.

Sugar

Substitute with 1 and 3/4 cup of powdered sugar.

I hope you find this substitutions list useful! I’ll leave you with the button to download a free printable PDF copy of the list, in case you missed it earlier in the post! 🙂

Easy and Cheap Dinners from a Rotisserie Chicken

Time and time again, grocery store rotisserie chickens have saved my sanity when it comes to dinner time. They are easy, already seasoned, already cooked, and can be used in a lot of different recipes. Here are some easy and cheap recipes using rotisserie chicken!

I don’t know about you, but all this cooking at home has me constantly looking for shortcuts. While I don’t hate cooking, I don’t like spending hours upon hours in my kitchen. I want easy, fast, flavorful and cheap!

That brings me to rotisserie chickens. Time and time again, grocery store rotisserie chickens have saved my sanity when it comes to dinner time. They are easy, already seasoned, already cooked, and can be used in a lot of different recipes. There are so many ways to use a rotisserie chicken!

On that note, I have rounded up a list of easy and cheap rotisserie dinners! I hope you enjoy!

First of all, if you wish, you can make your own rotisserie style chicken in the slow cooker with this recipe I found.

What are your favourite ways to use rotisserie chicken?

Tips for Stockpiling

It seems each of us has prepared for the world’s pandemic in different ways. There are many items that average consumers are having difficulty buying, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer. With the thought that the pandemic may cause a complete quarantine or lockdown of our world, it’s important to know what you should have stockpiled at home. In fact, taking action can actually soothe your fears. 

Schools have already shut down and many areas are on restrictions for social gatherings or even dining out. This is simply how our life is right now. It’s been said that if any area is about to go on complete lockdown you’ll have 1-2 day notice so that you can be fully ready. That’s why I wanted to share some tips, as it sounds like you’ll have 1-2 days to get that stockpile prepared.

Tips for Stockpiling

These are fantastic tips for creating a stockpile that won't leave you broke or with food you won't eat!

Take inventory

Take look in your cupboards, fridge and freezers to see what you already have on hand. You may actually be surprised at what you already have! It may not be exciting, delicious food, but it will keep you fed! To help you out, I have a Freezer Inventory printable here and a Pantry Inventory printable here.

Stock up your family’s Essentials

The first step is to make sure you have the essentials. By this, I mean to stock up on what your family regularly eats. Families have been advised to stockpile at least two weeks’ worth of food. I highly suggest you get food that can be frozen or has a long shelf life to keep the food healthy longer. Prioritize those items you really can’t live without like baby formula or foods for special diets. When this all blows over, you don’t want to find you have spent a fortune stocking up or be stuck with food you don’t like. Focus on buying a few extras of what you normally consume. Make a list to keep yourself on track at the grocery store or when you’re placing a grocery order.

Make a Meal Plan

Sit down in the near future and make a list of meals you can create with your essentials. Make sure you account for drinks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and of course, snacks. With a meal plan in place, your food won’t go to waste and you’ll spend less money.

Planning a menu is simple. First, print off two copies of this weekly menu planner. This resource will allow you to plan breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Next, start writing in meals that you know you like, based on foods that you already have and what can last awhile. If you need some meal ideas, here are our family’s favourites.

Focus on pantry meals

By this, I mean meals you can create using canned goods like beans, tomatoes and even canned tuna or chicken. Rice and pasta are excellent for pantry meals. Items like cheese and milk can even be frozen. Basically, focus on items with a long shelf life. Some fresh produce like apples, carrots, oranges, and celery have a longer shelf life compared with other counterparts like fresh berries.

These are just a few tips for stockpiling that will ensure you’re prepared to keep your family happy, healthy and fed for an extended amount of time. I’ve seen a lot of people out there panic buying and will have too much stuff after the fact or perhaps are going too deep into the financial hole due to panic. The key is to make sure that you’re able to financially afford your stockpile and be smart about what you spend money on for your stockpile.

Great Big List of Free Activities for when You’re Stuck Indoors

Here is a great list of free indoor activities and ideas that you can enjoy as a family or even virtually with others!

Throughout these strange and uncertain world events as of late, I have been collecting links to activities and helpful articles. In my online world, I am always amazed to see amazing humans step out and share their knowledge to try to make these, perhaps uncomfortable, days a bit easier. Life is so much better when we can learn to come together, even in unconventional ways. (Separately, in our own homes. LOL)

In these coming weeks, I would highly encourage you to set yourself up to create positive memories to strengthen your relationships. In times of crisis or upheaval, fear and anxiety really don’t serve us well. Take the necessary precautions, find the happy moments, dream together and tell your family and friends how much you love and appreciate them.

With all that said, here is my list of free indoor activities and ideas that you can enjoy as a family or even virtually with others. Make a list of things you want to accomplish as a family or even some projects on your own.

Activities for Kids:

Educational:

For Everyone:

Many churches offer a livestream of their service. Try a local church or perhaps something else from around the world for some encouragement.

I’m also noticing many local stores offering free delivery. Take advantage of this and support your local small businesses!

During this time, food may also be at the forefront of many of our thoughts. Here is another list with helpful articles relating to feeding our families:

And because many of you might be finding yourself a work at home parent now, here are some resources for you:

If you have come across some great free activities or helpful links, please let me know and I’ll get them added to the list!

Simple Strategies for the Frugal Home Remodel

Whether you’ve recently purchased a home or you’ve been living in it for years, you want it to be a space that is not only functional for your family, but also reflects your style. But remodeling your home can be a pricey thing to do. Luckily, there are several strategies you can implement to make sure your home remodel fits your budget and delivers the best return on investment.

Here are several strategies you can implement to make sure your home remodel fits your budget and delivers the best return on investment!

Chose wisely.

It’s tempting to redo every room, but you’re better off focusing on the essentials. Kitchens and bathrooms can be expensive, but they’re also the best bet to ensure you see a return at the time of sale. (If you are selling.) However, if you have any glaring problems (like water stains on the ceiling) or out-of-place extras (like disco-era wallpaper or a stainless-steel counter top in a cottage-style home), deal with them first.

Keep what works.

You may hate the look of your cabinets, but if they are soundly constructed and meet your spatial needs, give them a cheap facelift with a coat of paint or some new fronts and handles to save hundreds of dollars on custom cabinets.

Go green.

Recycled and reclaimed products (like flooring, cabinets, sinks, and tile) can be purchased for a fraction of the cost, so keep them in use and out of the landfill.

A little hardware goes a long way.

If your house came equipped with copper fittings and the look you crave for your faucets and drawer pulls is brushed nickel, you don’t necessarily have to toss the old ones and start from scratch.  For some items, you can try spray-paint made specifically for use on metal.  Otherwise, consider a swap.  Take your older items (if the condition is good) to a local second hand store like ReStore and see if you can find something you like better. You could always try selling your old hardware to recoup some of the cost of brand new hardware, if you go that route.

Design on a dime.

Any fashion you see in a magazine has a cheap counterpart somewhere in the world, so before you buy a designer brand, look at discount stores and shop around online. You may even find the exact piece you’re wanting for less by checking sites like Craig’s List, eBay or even Facebook Marketplace.

A little common sense can go a long way towards cutting your home remodeling costs, so shop sales, do comparisons, and take time to find the right materials at a better cost. And don’t be afraid to request price-matching or haggle to get the price you want.  After all, it is a vendor’s job to get the maximum amount of profit while you are solely responsible for sticking to your bottom line. It is possible to create your dream home for a lot less cash, and capitalize on your resourcefulness when it comes time to sell, if you follow these simple steps for frugal home remodeling.