Frugal Pantry: Favorite Baking Ingredients

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Having the right baking ingredients on hand makes home baking easier and helps you save money.
Frugal Pantry: Favorite Baking Ingredients

We are down to one jar of homemade baking mix today. Time to mix up some more. I’m heading into the kitchen in just a few to bake up some Bulk Zucchini Bread. It’s been on my to-do Post-it for the last three days. Time to get ‘er done. I’m hoping to be inspired to do some other baking stuff while I’m in there: Maple Vanilla Almond Granola, Muffin Mix, Snickerdoodles, and maybe some brownies. Oh yeah, and my new bread pan came so I may get one of the kids to make the dough so we can try out some new sandwich bread.

It’s gonna be a long day, isn’t it?

I’m ambitious when it comes to baking. But, the work always pays off. The commercial equivalents of home-baked goods are usually two or three times the price of doing it myself. Having the right tools for baking bread or cookies totally makes it easier, too.

Stocking a frugal baking pantry

I keep all my baking supplies in a separate corner cupboard right above my stand mixer and my measuring cup drawer. I read that in a book long ago. Store things near where you use them. When I have the space many of the grains I use in baking are stored in the refrigerator.

My basic rule of thumb is to stock up on baking supplies when I see them on sale, which is typically at Christmas time. I store the flours and grains in the freezer for longest shelf life.

Since I’ve been trying to increase the nutrition of our home-baked goods, I’ve been spending a little more on ingredients to get better quality. I can close the gap during off-peek times by ordering via Amazon’s Subscribe & Save. I find a good deal on something and then stock up that way.

Here are the items that I keep on hand all the time:

  • wheat flours: unbleached, whole wheat pastry, white whole wheat, and whole wheat
  • corn products: corn flour, corn meal, corn starch
  • sweeteners: organic evaporated sugar cane juice and demerara sugar (cheapest at Walmart),  honey and maple (cheapest at Costco), powdered sugar, brown sugar
  • leavening and baking agents: aluminum-free baking powder, baking soda, salt, SAF yeast (refrigerated), cream of tartar, vital wheat gluten
  • powdered dairy: milk, malted milk
  • extracts: vanilla, maple, almond, and lemon
  • chocolate: cocoa powder, chocolate chips, baking chocolate
  • oils: sunflower, olive, coconut
  • dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, apricots, dates and prunes (in the fridge)
  • nuts and seeds: almonds and cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas
  • spices: stored in a separate cupboard, separate post to come 🙂
  • other: oats, flax seed meal, wheat bran, wheat germ (in the fridge)

Build a Frugal Pantry

Frugal Pantry: Favorite Frugal Fridge Items - Building a great tasting pantry on a budget can take a little time and research. Here are my favorite frugal refrigerated staples.

This is part of a larger series where I share tips for buying the foods that pack the biggest punch nutritionally as well as dollar for dollar. Posts in the Frugal Pantry series include:

What are YOUR favorite pantry staples?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Your pantry favorites look a lot like mine. I couldn’t think of anything to add, other than oatmeal. I buy a lot of my flours, oats, powdered milk, sugar, etc. from Azure Standard. Do you have a drop off in your area? I have to pay shipping by weight, so I have to factor that cost in. I have heard that not all areas have shipping charges, though.

    • Glad you mentioned the oats. Mine are in the fridge, so I forgot them from the list. The Azure pickup is a 30-minute drive from my house, so it’s not really worth it to me.

    • Katie says

      I order from Azure Standard about once a year and do NOT have to pay a shipping upcharge when it is delivered to a local drop-off point. In fact, there are about 3 in my city and several on the outskirts, so I’m lucky. Of course, if we had to add a surcharge, we might not order as much and there probably wouldn’t be as many drops.

      Do you order more than $50 worth? I think there is a “small order” charge if under $50. I didn’t know some groups had to pay extra. 🙁

      • Katie, I’m pretty sure it is because I live in a very remote area. We pay a shipper to pick up our orders and deliver them to our area. It can get pricey, so I don’t order every month. I still find it worth it though. Yes, my order is always over $50 🙂

  2. June Combs says

    Hi Jessica – i wish i were as good as u are at the pantry challenge! I am a foodie and cannot stay out of he grocey store? My pantry looks alot like yours, i keep canned mushrooms and canned milk? What do u use powdered milk for and where o you store it?

    Check the ingredients on your chicken broth? I use alot so i started comparing ingredient lists and found a brand thats not orgnic but only has chicken broth in it and its a bigger box plus costs a little more too but i dont like that the second ingredient on most brands is natural flavors added? I dont know what that is?

    Keep up the good work … i havent had time to read ur blog alot lately but its summer and i love it!

    • I use powdered milk in hot cocoa mix and in baking when we’re running low on fresh milk.

  3. Kathy says

    I know from following your sites that you try for the best nutrition at the lowest prices. Is there a reason that you don’t buy wheat berries and grind your own flour? I have paid for my grinder a few times over with the cost of the flour. I buy my berries in bulk. I still buy some flour for a few things. I am also gluten free so I am buying some rice flours. I’m getting ready to work on grinding those with something else since I can’t use my wheat grinder due to cross contamination. I was just wondering. It is so easy, so much fresher, and less processed. I am able to get it cheaper too after figuring in the grinder cost for awhile.

    • That’s a good question. I think it’s the convenience issue. I borrowed a friend’s years ago and then it was the cost that was the deterrent. Now, it’s more the convenience of bagged and the idea of one more appliance on my counter (I have a lot!) that I haven’t really considered it.

  4. Janet says

    FLOURS: Whole-wheat white flour and all-purpose white flour
    SWEETENERS: White sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses
    LEAVENING AND BAKING AGENTS: Baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt
    DAIRY: Powdered milk, evaporated skim milk, sweetened condensed milk
    EXTRACTS: vanilla, almond, peppermint,
    CHOCOLATE: cocoa powder, chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate squares, candy bark, melting chips
    OILS: vegetable, olive and shortening
    DRIED FRUIT: raisins, cranberries and shredded coconut
    NUTS: walnuts, almonds, dry roasted peanuts, peanut butter, and hazelnut spread
    OTHER: canned pumpkin, almond paste, old-fashioned rolled oats and cornstarch

    I have never had much luck with yeast-based dough. Therefore, I have lots of bread, roll and muffin recipes that use a combination of baking soda, vinegar and buttermilk for leavening. Consequently, I keep a wide variety of vinegar on hand including apple cider, balsamic, red wine, white wine and white distilled.

  5. kjane54 says

    My cupboard is similar to yours. We always have a bag of masa for making tortillas, plus corn meal for polenta and corn bread. I organize my spices by ethnic categories-Indian spices together (curry, garam masala, cumin, tumeric, ginger, etc). Italian spices, peppers (cayenne, pepper flakes, chili, etc) . I also put all the baking dessert spices in one spot-cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, plus my extracts. Some spices are cross overs of course, but this makes it easier to find what I need.

  6. Kay says

    I love to bake and keep much of what you do except we keep wheat berries because we grind our own grains. Keeping baking supplies in the house sure does cut down on the grocery bill.

  7. Leslie says

    Are all the items you listed what you purchase with subscribe and save? If not, would you mind sharing which ones you have found most beneficial to purchase through that venue? Thanks!

    • The prices change often. I just keep checking. I buy a lot of Bob’s Red Mill products that way.

  8. Honestly, I buy BRM products in bulk and keep them in containers, etc.
    I make an easy wheat bread and add flax seed, cracked wheat, etc.
    We don’t use boxed items, so my baking pantry is pretty extensive.

    Love your blog lady.

    • Thanks, Em. Totally appreciate your kind words. What kind of bulk are you talking about? 25 pounds?

  9. No, not that much. We live in Humid Texas, and I worry about storage. But I buy 4 bags of flour or cracked wheat, rolled oats, etc… instead of just one.

    We only have one child at home. Plus our Sprouts carries some things and often has sales on some BRM stuff.
    You can even get some things on Base and elsewhere.
    But I typically buy once/twice a year directly from them. It costs in shipping, but in rural Texas, I’d spend a lot in gas going all over town looking for what I want.

    If I were you I’d buy the 25lb bags. Maybe even go in with friends who could use parts and save yourselves some $. (assuming it would).


    • Currently, I buy the cases from Amazon or Bob’s sends me some when I work with them. I’ll have to price out the bigger bags. Thanks for the nudge.

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