Build a Frugal Pantry

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What ingredients should you buy so that you can make budget meals at home?

Build a Frugal Pantry

January’s Pantry Challenge showed me how fun it can be to cook from my food storage. I never had before given it much thought, but I was pleased to find out I had enough variety in the cupboard to pull together some tasty meals.

As I thought about it, I realized that with a little coaching and some recipe inspiration, the average home cook could regularly stock a pantry with all kinds of tricks inside. If we are purposeful in what we buy and keep on hand, there’s no end to the yummy things we can create. And if we can do it on a budget, too, well, that’s the cat’s meow!

Starting on Monday I will be bringing you ideas, recipes, and ingredients for you to add to your shopping cart. And some fantastic bloggers will be chiming in along the way. Cooking from scratch is a fantastic way to keep more dollars in your pocket. And we’re going to show you how with a few key ingredients.

I identified 12 ingredient categories that I think fit the budget as well as the “we-like-to-eat-this” pantry. They include:

Build a Frugal Pantry


Whole Grains

Build a Frugal Pantry


You can buy many of these items for super cheap if you shop on Amazon and use their Subscribe and Save service. Once you subscribe to get a regular delivery of five items in a month, you get an extra 15% off your entire month’s order.


Build a Frugal Pantry


Herbs and Spices

Build a Frugal Pantry

Root Vegetables


Build a Frugal Pantry



Build a Frugal Pantry

Fats and Oils

Flavors (more on this later)

Build a Frugal Pantry


Nuts and Seeds

These pantry staples as the basic items to keep on hand as the budget allows. Many of them are regular “stockpile” items while others are rich ingredients (both in flavor and in price) that can stretch far to give foods some punch. If you have these ingredients, there is NO END to the good — and cheap — eats you could make!

What is your biggest challenge in cooking from scratch?

Related posts:

Real Food Products We Love
5 Ways to Stock Your Pantry on a Budget
Frugal Pantry: Favorite Pantry Staples

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Michele Hays says

    Pantry staples are an important part of my Food Desert Project, where I create healthy, gourmet meals out of foods you can find at drugstores, dollar stores, and convenience markets. It's amazing what you can do just with pantry staples!

  2. Hi I just found your blog. I have been typing up my Mom’s collection of recipes and putting them on a blog so my family and friends can all have a copy of them. I was telling them most of the recipes could be made out of a well stocked pantry like my Mom had. But she is no longer around to tell us how to get started. I found you and found the answers. I linked to you so everyone could read your tips too.
    Thank you for helping all of us out. Check out the link if you would like, if I need to change anything just let me know.

    • Jessica says

      Awww…. thank you! So fun!

  3. THANK YOU! I love this! I also like to have veggies pre-chopped in the freezer on the ready….!

  4. Stacy says

    This is a great list–thanks!

  5. We had friends in town, plus we threw a birthday party for my daughter, so I’ve eaten through my grocery budget in only half a month. I’m going to attempt to make entirely from scratch for the rest of the month from what I already have on hand. This is a great list that will surely help me continue to build my “stockpile.” My biggest challenge in cooking from scratch is probably remembering to prepare some items the night before, like soaking grains or dried beans. I need to incorporate it into my bedtime ritual so it becomes muscle memory, but for now I feel like I forget about 50% of the time!

  6. Anna says

    Great list! Thank you. I’m bookmarking this.

    I cook from scratch a lot and my biggest challenge is making things so everyone enjoys them. Hubby is the pickiest. The kids’ tastes change like the wind so some days they love a dish and the next time hate it. Once I made a soup of, basically, thinned scratch Boston Baked Bean with a little mystery freezer meat in it. I let the kids wear their cowboy hats at the table and they ate all the beans. Score! LOL.

  7. leanna says

    FYI your subscribe and save link to amazon no longer works. I realize its many years ago. Just thought if you’re still affiliated you should update the link. 🙂


  1. […] learned early on that the building a frugal pantry was key to our success in eating well at home. I don’t buy whatever I want when I want it. […]

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