Basic Pantry Staples List (and a Free Printable)

basic pantry staples

Must Have Basic Pantry Staples

Having a well-stocked pantry can save you from unnecessary trips to the grocery store and eating out too often. Since I’m also cleaning out our kitchen cupboards this week, I thought I’d put together a basic pantry staples list that would be useful to have on hand at all times!

Stocking your kitchen with these basic pantry staples, will ensure you have your family’s favorite meal ingredients on hand. It also means you will almost always have something on hand to create a simple meal for busy nights or days when you don’t feel like cooking much.

These are basic, but versatile staples that are used often. They are also usually quite inexpensive and have a long shelf life if stored properly in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer.

Below my list, you’ll find a Pantry Inventory printable with blank spaces that you can fill in to suit your own needs.  I hope you like it!

Basic Spices

  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Ginger powder
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Vegetable/Chicken/Beef bouillon (Better Than Bouillon is great!)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cocoa powder

Dried GoodsBasic pantry staples

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Oats: Quick oats, rolled oats
  • Sugar: white, brown, confectioners (powdered)
  • Flours: all purpose, whole wheat
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Chocolate chips/raisins
  • Yeast
  • Cornmeal
  • Coffee, tea
  • Cornstarch
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dried beans
  • Lentils

Canned Goods

  • Tomatoes: paste, sauce, diced, crushed
  • Beans: black, garbanzo, kidney, white
  • Canned fruit
  • Pickles
  • Pasta sauce
  • Canned tuna, salmon, chicken
  • Jams and preserves

Oils, Vinegars and Sauces

  • Oils: canola or vegetable oil, olive oil, sesame oil
  • Vinegars: apple cider, white, red wine, rice, balsamic
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Soy sauce
  • Barbeque sauce
  • Maple syrup
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey

Perishable Items

  • Breads: bagels, buns, tortillas
  • Dairy: milk, butter, cheese, yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Frozen fruit and vegetables
  • Onions and garlic
  • Meat, fish and poultry

Is there anything you would add to the basic pantry staples list? Let me know in the comments below!

Click on the image above to print your own Pantry Inventory list!

The Best Time of Year to Buy Anything in Canada: The Yearly Sales Cycle

The best time of year to buy anything in Canada

The Best Time of Year to Buy Anything in Canada

You might have been wondering when the best time of year to buy a particular item you’ve had your eye on might be. Did you know that Canada has a yearly sale cycle? As in, every retail and department store will have specific items on sale each month of the year. Yes, Superstore, Walmart, Sport Chek, Best Buy and even local small businesses will all have sales to clear our stock.

For example, you can find rock bottom prices on Christmas decorations in January and cheap Summer clothes in September. Here’s how you can get the biggest bargain on what you need all year long:

January:

  • Christmas Items (candy, decorations, wrapping paper…etc.)
  • Toys (those on clearance from Christmas)
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Dieting products (food and programs like Weight Watchers)
  • Athletic shoes
  • Gym memberships
  • Bedding, Towels (also known as a White-Sale)
  • Computers/tablets
  • Tax software
  • Small appliances
  • Houses
  • Motorcycles
  • Boats
  • Organization products
  • Winter clothes (outerwear, boots, sweaters)

February:

  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Cameras
  • TV’s (before the Super bowl)
  • Valentine’s Day items (after valentine’s day: candy, decorations…etc.)
  • Rugs
  • Housewares

March:

  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Paper Products (paper towel, facial tissue, toilet paper)
  • Luggage
  • Spring clothes

April:

  • Vacuums
  • Paint
  • Winter clothes (now on clearance)
  • Winter Boots
  • Easter Items (candy, decorations..etc)
  • Cookware
  • Tires
  • Ham

May:The Best time of year to buy anything in Canada

  • Bedding, Towels (White-Sale)
  • Ice Cream, salad dressing, bottled water
  • Cleaning items

June:

  • BBQ Items (Hot dogs, condiments, paper plates…etc.)
  • BBQ’s
  • Sunscreen/insect repellent
  • Tools (for Father’s day)

July:

  • Air Conditioners/fans
  • BBQ Items
  • Craft items
  • Party Supplies
  • Sunscreen/Insect repellent

August:

  • School Supplies
  • Patio Furniture
  • Snack foods (for back-to-school)
  • Bathing Suits (now on clearance)
  • Outdoor Toys
  • Summer clothing
  • Pool supplies (air mattresses, pool noodles…etc.)

September:

  • Summer clothes (now on clearance)
  • Gardening items (bulbs, shrubs, trees)
  • Bicycles
  • Large Appliances
  • Snack foods (for back-to-school)

October:

  • Cars
  • Turkey
  • Fishing supplies (now on clearance)
  • Lawn mowers (now on clearance)
  • Baking Supplies

November:

  • Heaters
  • Baking supplies
  • Halloween candy (now on clearance)
  • Blankets
  • Pie ingredients (crusts, fillings)
  • Turkey
  • Winter clothes

December:

  • Everything for Christmas dinner
  • Toys
  • Tools
  • Electronics
  • Carpeting & Flooring

Here are some other money saving articles that may interest you:

8 Ways To Earn PC Optimum Points Quickly

How to earn PC Optimum Points quickly

How to Earn PC Optimum Points Quickly

If you shop at the Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, or other Loblaw banner stores, then you may have heard about the PC Optimum Rewards program they offer.

In my opinion, the PC Optimum rewards program is one of the best in Canada. It is awesome.

Before I get into the exciting part about how to earn PC Optimum Points quickly, first a quick run down of the program:

About the PC Optimum Rewards Program:

  • It is free to sign up for a PC Optimum account.
  • You can earn points at participating Loblaw stores using your PC optimum card or app.
  • Earn 15 points per $1.00 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart.
  • Earn 10 points per litre at Esso and Mobil stations across Canada.
  • Earn points at Superstore, Loblaws, Zehrs, No Frills and other Loblaw grocery stores by collecting points from personal digital offers found in the app and/or in-store offers. (can be found in the flyers.)
  • Redeem 10,000 points for $10 worth of goods at any Loblaw store.
  • Redemptions are in increments of 10,000 points i.e. $10, $20, $30, and so on. You can redeem up to a maximum of 500,000 points or $500 in a single transaction.

How to Earn PC Optimum Points Quickly

It’s easy to earn and redeem PC Optimum points. That’s why PC Optimum is one of the most popular loyalty programs in Canada.

But I have several tips for you today that will help you to maximize the amount of points you earn each shopping trip.

1. Take Advantage of Weekly Personalized Offers

When you sign up for PC Optimum, they will send you weekly emails with personalized offers that usually reflect your buying habits. Making them personalized to you.

For example, this week, one of my personalized offers is 200 points for every $1.00 spent on strawberries. Most weeks, I buy strawberries. So I will automatically get the points when I scan my PC Optimum card or app at the checkout. You will also receive points even if you do grocery pick-up with PC Express.

New weekly personalized offers go live every Thursday at 12 am and are valid through Wednesday of the following week.

2. Save your Personalized offers for next week

Since the personalized offers change on a weekly basis, you may find some offers don’t work for you on a particular week. (Because you just bought that item or you are away, for example.) If you know you will need that particular item next week when you shop, it’s possible to save up to 4 offers for the following week.

For example, I have an offer for 600 points for every $3 spent on PC frozen fruit. I don’t need any frozen fruit this week, but since we eat a lot of smoothies, I will save this offer for next week, when we will need more.

It could also be advantageous to save offers so you can wait for a sale. It’s great when you can grab something on sale AND collect points at the same time! I believe you can save the same offer more than once.

3. Choose ‘Don’t Show Again’

Alternatively, sometimes you know an offer just won’t work for you, ever. Instead of saving this offer for another week, you can choose ‘Don’t Show Again’ and this offer will be dismissed.

This is a great way to tailor your personalized offers so that when the offers refresh on Thursday, they will be even more applicable to how you normally grocery shop.

4. Check the Weekly Flyers for in-Store offers

Take a look in your flyers and you are sure to spot some points offers that say something along the lines of ‘Buy 2 (insert participating product), get 1,500 PC Optimum Points’. I recently earned 1,600 points because I bought a rotisserie chicken. (The offer was 1,600 points for every $8 spent on hot or chilled ready-to-go meals.)

You may also see bonus offers like: Get 8,000 Bonus PC Optimum Points when you spend $40 or more on these participating brands. (insert participating brands.) These are excellent. Keep in mind that you can also use coupons (if applicable) so you can get a lot of products and a lot of points with these bonus offers!

5. Check the app for Bonus Points EventsEarn PC Optimum Points Quickly

This week, I see in the app that I have a points offer for 20,000 points when I spend $60 or more on almost anything in-store at Shoppers Drug Mart.

So definitely take a look in the app before you go shopping!

6. Join PC Optimum Insiders

Signing up for a PC Optimum account is free. However, they also offer a subscription called PC Optimum Insiders. This does have an annual fee of $119.

I have heard from several people who are PC Insiders that they make back in points what they pay annually quite quickly. The PC Optimum Insiders subscription is really beneficial if you often buy President’s Choice products or use PC Express grocery pick up.

Here is what a PC Optimum Insiders subscription offers:

  • 10% back on every single PC® product
  • Free PC Express™ grocery pickup with priority time slots. This is a saving of $3 to $5 per pickup.
  • Free shipping, with no minimum purchase from joefresh.com and shoppersdrugmart.ca
  • 10% back on all JOE FRESH products
  • 5% back in points on PC Travel bookings, including car rentals, hotel bookings, flights and vacation packages

7. Use a PC Financial Mastercard

If you are a credit card user (sometimes they can be beneficial!) and mostly shop at Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws, etc., then a PC Financial Mastercard may be a good option for you! There are three different cards available:

  • PC Financial Mastercard: Earn 25 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart and 10 points per $1 spent at PC grocery stores. Also earn 10 points on all other purchases. This card has no income requirements.
  • PC Financial World Mastercard: Earn 35 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart and 20 points per $1 spent at PC grocery stores. This card has a $60,000 minimum annual personal income requirement.
  • PC Financial World Elite Mastercard: Earn 45 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart and 30 points per $1 spent at PC grocery stores. To be eligible, you must meet the $80,000 minimum personal income requirement.

For all the details, be sure to talk with an advisor at a PC Financial institution.

8. Buy Gas at Mobil and Esso

Earn even more points by fueling up at Esso and Mobil gas stations! You will earn 10 PC Optimum points per litre as a PC Optimum member and at least 30 points per litre when you pay using a PC Financial Mastercard.

Take Note:

Points cannot be earned or redeemed on gift cards according to their terms & conditions, section 7.

As you can see, the PC Optimum program is great. Especially if you do the majority of your shopping at Loblaw banner stores and Shoppers Drug Mart. It’s fun to accumulate points and then redeem them to pay for an entire shopping trip! Sometimes I like to redeem some when I’m purchasing a new sweater or kitchen appliance, for example. It’s like getting those ‘wants’ for free!

You may also love my How to Coupon in Canada Series:

Do you have any other tips on how to earn PC Optimum Points quickly?

Coupon Stacking in Canada: 2 Smart Methods

Coupon stacking in Canada

Coupon Stacking in Canada

Coupon stacking in Canada is a very popular topic when it comes to coupon use!

Unfortunately, traditional coupon stacking is no longer available in Canada. 🙁

Since I’ve been out of the coupon game for quite some time, I’m not sure when London Drugs and Save-On Foods stopped allowing coupon stacking.

But don’t let this discourage you from using coupons!

There are still a couple of legitimate methods that will allow you to “stack” coupons or deals.

Method #1

First of all, since the introduction of cash back apps, it may be possible to use a coupon at the store, then redeem a cash back offer from an app at home. For example, say you have a coupon for Melitta Coffee Pods. Use that at the store, then redeem the cash back offer for $2.00 found in the Caddle app.

One thing to watch for is  wording like this: Cannot use this offer with any other print or in-app coupon or rebate. This literally means what it says. You can’t use a coupon AND redeem the cash back offer for the same product. This wording is found in Checkout 51 most often.

Cash-Back Apps that I love:

Method #2

Secondly, this is very loose “stacking”, but it’s still a great way to use coupons and save money for future purchases.

I love the PC Optimum program. By scanning my card, I’m able to collect points with the personal offers they have for me each week as well as the bonus points that can be found in the flyers.

So with one grocery shopping trip, I can redeem coupons and collect points that I can use as a cash discount another time! Sometimes, you may have a coupon and be able to collect points on the same product!

Do you use cash back apps or the PC Optimum program? What are some of the great deals that you have gotten by using these methods?

Here are the other posts in the How to Coupon in Canada Series:

Where to Find Canadian Coupons: 8 Easy Places

Where to find Canadian coupons

Where to Find Canadian Coupons

The first and most important step in getting started with coupons in Canada is, well, getting coupons to use! This is really the easy part because coupons are actually really abundant in Canada!

Today, I am going to give you a list so you know where to find Canadian coupons that will help you save money! Coupons are a great way to save money on food, cleaning supplies, hygiene products and more.

Here is where to find Canadian coupons so you can get your coupon stash growing quickly:

At the grocery store

Grocery stores can be a treasure trove of coupons. There are several different kinds of coupons you can keep an eye out for.

  • Tear pad coupons – These can be found on the front of shelves or on those cardboard display cases, usually very close to the product for which the coupon is intended. Some large grocery stores also have large coupon boards at the front entrances where you will find dozens of tear pad coupons. As you find the ones you think you will use, keep in mind that you don’t have to use them on the day that you take them!
  • Peelies – Peelies are those little sticker coupons that you can sometimes find attached to products. Recently, I have found them on cereal boxes, feminine products, and granola bars. Keep an eye out! These are meant to be taken only when you purchase the product on which they are found!
  • Hang Tags – Like peelies, but they are actually hanging on products with an elastic. These are also meant to be taken only when you purchase the product on which they are found!
  • Rep Coupons – You know those booths that are set up in grocery stores with someone handing out samples or simply bringing awareness to a product? They often have coupons to give out!

Printable Coupons Where to find Canadian coupons

If you have access to a printer, you will love to know that there are so many printable coupons available to Canadians. Many companies Like Save.ca, webSaver.ca, GoCoupons.ca and P&G offer coupons that you can immediately print right from home, cut out and take to your local stores to redeem. Check out the giant list of printable Canadian coupons that are available on Simply Frugal!

Mail to Home Coupons 

Some companies run promotions where they mail coupons (for free product, or money off) to you via Canada Post. One such company is Chapman’s Ice Cream. Every year you can request for them to mail you a $4.00 off coupon to use on their ice cream products. Save.ca is also a coupon service that offers mail to home coupons.

Be sure to keep an eye out for coupons from fast-food restaurants! These you don’t have to sign up for. They just come as junk mail and can be quite valuable if you utilize restaurants like Subway, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, etc.

In product packaging

You can also find coupons inside specially marked boxes or packages that may be used for future purchases. I often see these coupons inside cereal boxes, granola bars and taco kits.

Free Samples

Many times when I fill out a form for a free sample, when it arrives, it comes with a coupon. Sample boxes from companies like SampleSource often add coupons into the box along with the samples.

Email Newsletters

Join email lists of the companies that you often buy from, if they have one. When you sign up online, make sure to check the box that asks if you would like to have special coupons and offers sent to you. I also recommend having a separate email address for signing up for things like this. You wouldn’t want to clutter up your personal email! Gay Lea, Oxi Clean, Saputo and Oasis are all examples of companies that regularly send out coupons with their newsletters.

Email your favourite companies

If you have a favourite product, there is absolutely no harm in emailing or calling that particular company asking if they have any coupons available to mail to you! Many companies are very willing to send coupons your way if you ask!

Coupon Apps

Also known as Cash-Back apps! If physical coupons aren’t your thing, cash-back apps might be a better option for you! The way most cash-back apps work is:

  1. Download the app
  2. Browse the list of cash-back offers then buy your groceries
  3. Select the offers you purchased
  4. Upload your receipt
  5. Earn Cash Back when your receipt is approved

The best Cash Back apps in Canada are: Checkout 51, Caddle, Eclipsa, webSaver Digital Coupons, Honey (for online shopping) and Rakuten (for online shopping).

The Ultimate List of Canadian Coupon Sources:

I’m positive these ideas will help you with where to find Canadian coupons! What’s your favourite way to grow your coupon stash?

Here’s the list of posts in the How to Coupon in Canada Series:

How to Organize Coupons: 4 Smart Ways

How to organize coupons

How to Organize Coupons

Now that you know where to find Canadian coupons, you’re going to have to figure out some sort of organizing system so they don’t end up expiring before you use them. There are many different ways to organize coupons, but you may have to try out a couple of systems before you find one that works best for you.

In this post, I’ll be listing several different ways on how to organize coupons. You’re sure to find a system that will work for you!

Coupon Organizing Method #1 – The Wallet Size Expanding Folder


This was my first method of coupon organization. I picked up a wallet sized coupon folder from a local dollar store. You can also find them on Amazon. The folder from the dollar store already included pre-categorized sections like, baking goods, beverages, cleaning products and condiments. Feel free to personalize each section to how you like it. Maybe you want to organize your coupons by expiry date. Or label each section with store names so you could place all the coupons you intend on using at a particular store in the appropriate section!

This coupon organizer is similar, but more like a wallet!

Coupon Organizing Method #2 – Use Envelopes

Organize all your coupons using envelopes. Make an envelope for each category. (such as Meat, Dairy Products, Cleaning Products, Paper Products, etc.) Accumulate all the coupons you plan on using and store them in the corresponding envelopes so they can be easily found.

Coupon Organizing Method #3 – The Coupon Box

Use index cards to create all the categories you’ll need.  With this method, your coupons will be really easy to find, but you may find it a bit bulky if you want to bring it into the stores you shop at.  Here’s an example from Monica Wilkinson using a cute recipe box, including the categories she uses.

Coupon Organization Method #4 – The Coupon Binder

The coupon binder is a hugely popular coupon organization method and is the one I’m currently using. It’s fairly simple to create your own using a three-ring binder, page dividers, trading card holders, and perhaps a zippered pocket to hold scissors, random coupons, or a calculator.  I’ve also heard of people using photo albums instead of a binder! Here are a couple of tutorials to help you get idea on how to create a coupon binder system that may work for you:

How to Sort  your Coupons

Now that you have some ideas on what to put your coupons in, you may want some ideas on how to sort your coupons.

  • Organize by product:  Rather than create categories, you could group all your similar product coupons together.  For example, all shampoo coupons together and all makeup coupons together.
  • Organize by expiry month:  Create a section for each month of the year and place the coupons according to the month they expire.
  • Organize alphabetically:  Put your Irish Spring coupons in the “I” section and your Crest coupons in the “C” section.
  • Organize by category:  Probably the most popular way of sorting coupons.  Place all coupons in broad categories such as Meat, Paper products, and Snacks.

I hope this post gave you some ideas on how to organize coupons with a system that will work for you!

If you’re a coupon user with a system already in place, how do you organize your coupons?

How to Organize coupons

Here are the other posts in the How to Coupon in Canada Series: