Food waste used to be a huge problem for our house and our food budget. That was until I took a good look at the food we buy. I decided to create a master grocery list filled with budget friendly foods that store easily or can be frozen.
This list is not meant to be the only things you will buy. It is a list of staples to keep stock of in order to make plenty of healthy and filling meals.
We eat mostly plant based in our house but I did include a couple of meat items in this list for those who eat it. There are a few tricks however that you should know in sticking to a food budget and creating your food staples list.
Dried Staples Budget
I watch my sales papers like a hawk. I check them online at my local grocery stores website if I don’t get them in the mail.
If you watch your sales papers like I do you start to learn when your favorite items will go on sale.
My trick to sticking to a food budget is to stock up on my budget staples when they go on sale. So if pasta is on sale for $0.89 I pick up 10 boxes. When chickpeas go on sale for $0.59 I grab 10 cans.
This usually gets me through till the next time my staples go on sale so I’m always saving money on my groceries.
23 Frugal Food Staples
Under each item I will give suggestions of recipes the item can be used with. I’m doing this so you can see the full purpose of each ingredient and also how they can be mixed with other items on this list.
Some recipes might need additional ingredients. Even so the main purpose of this list is to make sure you are avoiding food waste and creating filling, nutritious food for your family at meal time.
I get the 5 or 10 pound bags of plain white rice. Store brand is fine. While nutritionally not the best food rice is a great side dish that is filling.
Rice is perfect for chicken casseroles, fried rice, side dish with any type of chicken and even just plain with a couple of scrambled eggs mixed in.
Beans offer some pretty great protein and fiber. Bags of dried beans can go a long way to expand any meal. My only recommendation is make sure you soak and rinse beans really well.
Use beans in soup, as side dishes, to make casseroles go further.
Pasta is an easy cheap ingredient that can be used to make an assortment of recipes. Whole wheat pasta is a bit more expensive but healthier than plain pastas. Either one will do the trick if you can get whole wheat pasta on sale, do it for the nutritional value.
Spaghetti, chicken parmesan, mac and cheese, lasagna, pasta with pesto, stroganoff, fettuccini alfredo, baked ziti, and the list goes on and on. I could eat pasta for an entire month.
Canned Tomatoes and Pasta Sauces
You can’t have dried pasta without also having the sauces to go with them. When they are cheap or go on sale stock up heavily on these items so that you can create loads of different meals.
Bananas are one of the few fresh items that I recommend for as a staple in a frugal pantry. Mainly because they are jam packed with must have nutrients in anyone’s diet.
Mix a banana in your morning smoothie or in some cereal for breakfast. Make banana bread, banana nut muffins, ice cream, and pancakes. Bananas are versatile and can be used for many different purposes.
Old Fashioned Oats
Jam packed with fiber old fashioned oats are filling and perfect for loads of recipes. Make breakfast bars, snack bars, mix in smoothies, use in muffins and cookies. Outside of just oatmeal there are loads of things you can make with old fashioned oats.
I would love to list out fresh vegetables that are frugal except they really aren’t. Sure the pricing is frugal but you and I both know food waste is a real problem. Buying fresh foods is not frugal if the fresh foods are going to get thrown away.
Use frozen vegetables as side dishes or in casseroles. Buy them when they are at their cheapest and keep stock of them.
Chicken often goes on sale, and because it is packed with protein chicken is one of the best meats to buy. Watch those sales and buy up thighs, legs, and breasts when they are on sale. Whole chickens are usually cheaper by the pound but will take longer to prepare.
Canned tuna is cheap, packed with protein, and great for so many different meals. Mix a tuna salad, make a tuna noodle casserole, mix it in with rice and soy sauce. Tuna is even good plain.
You can use flour to make pizza crust, fresh bread, pancakes, and loads of other things. Stiffen up a sauce or make a nice gravy. Flour is extremely useful for many recipes so you will want to make sure you have it on hand.
Just like with flour sugar can be used in so many different recipes. Use it to sweeten iced tea, make cookies, cake, breads, and more. Make sure you always have sugar on hand.
Baking Soda and Baking Powder
While they do different things in recipes it’s important to make sure you always have these two ingredients on hand. A lot of recipes call for them and always having them on hand is a good way to make sure you always eat well.
Instead of buying expensive broths to add to recipes these cubes can make the broth for a lot cheaper. Use them to add extra flavor to some of your favorite recipes or use them to make soup. Bouillon cubes are a must have in any kitchen pantry.
Always keep peanut butter on hand for extra protein. Add it to a smoothie, make cookies, and sandwiches. Always keep peanut butter stocked.
I love frozen fruit. You can use it in smoothies, to make breakfast bars, to defrost and eat, or in baked desserts. Just like with frozen vegetables buy a bunch when it’s on sale and keep it stocked.
This isn’t always in my kitchen pantry but bread crumbs work well for chicken recipes or to add as a topping to casseroles.
Chickpeas are jam packed with healthy nutrients. You can whip up your own hummus or roast them for a delicious snack. Either way you want to make sure you keep chickpeas on hand.
I like using canned vegetables to add extra heartiness to my soups. They help to make soups extra filling and like with most soups you will probably end up with plenty of leftovers.
Always keep potatoes on hand. There are loads of things you can do with red potatoes to make interesting side dishes, casseroles, and more. Make homemade gnocchi, pierogies, shepherds pie, or super cheesy mashed potatoes.
While more expensive than chicken we all need some variety every now and then. Stock up when you can get it on sale. Ground beef can be used to make loads of different dinners and is worth always keeping in your freezer.
We always have eggs in the house because they provide a huge amount of protein while still being relatively cheap. You can use them to make french toast, breakfast casseroles, or to make all sorts of different breads and meals.
Always keep milk or milk substitute on hand. I personally prefer regular cows milk however you may need or want to use something else. You will need milk for a lot of different recipes so keep it as a staple.
Frugal Meal Planning
If you want to take your frugal food budget to the next level you will need to learn to meal plan frugally. Take a look at what you already have stocked in your kitchen and plan your meals based on what you can already cook with.
Before I even create my grocery shopping list I take a look at my sales ad. From there I look at what I have already in stock and create a meal plan based on what I have. Then I create my shopping list to buy any fresh ingredients needed for my meal plan.
I have been doing this type of meal planning for a little over a year now and it’s really helped to stop food waste and keep us in a budget.
Now that you know all the necessary staples to have in your house try searching for different recipes you can make using these staples. You will see that as long as you have these and keep them in stock you can make loads of different foods.
The variety of foods that you can make will keep your family extremely happy while also keeping your food waste and spending down to a minimum. Don’t let food waste break your budget and dip into your savings.
What are staples you have to have in your kitchen at all times? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more money saving tips and pin this to your favorite frugal living boards.
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