If you’re trying to save money on groceries, keeping your kitchen stocked is a smart way to do it.
With cupboards full of the ‘essentials’ you’re less likely to spend unnecessary on things you think you need for dinner.
So just what kind of ingredients should you keep on hand as a base? Well we have a few ideas!
We’d love to hear yours as well!
When you buy it in bulk, an option readily available in most major supermarkets in Australia, rice is super cheap. It’s also a great side for just about any dish, and offers slightly different flavours with brown and white variants.
Old fashioned oats aren’t just cheap, they’re incredibly versatile. Use them to make wholesome and hearty breakfasts, to stretch your mince and meatloaf, to make frugal baked goodies or even to add to smoothies.
Having flour in your pantry means you won’t be spending big on pre-prepared baked snacks, you can make them all yourself. Keep at least plain flour and cornflour, which can be use to thicken sauces, on hand.
There are so many grains out there that make great additions to the frugal pantry. Oft forgotten ones include barley, couscous, semolina, polenta and more, all of which are flexible and delicious.
For making your own breads and other doughs, yeast is smart to keep on hand. Don’t waste money on expensive pizza bases and seedy loafs, just do it yourself.
6. Baking Powder & Soda
They’re often confused, but baking powder is essentially baking soda along with cream of tartar and, occasionally, cornstarch. Having this in your pantry makes baked goods a breeze, overtime.
Vinegar is the powerhouse of the average kitchen in all its forms, with many uses from tenderising meats, to making at-home dressings and delicious sauces, you should definitely keep some.
8. Popcorn Kernels
If your kids love to snack, popcorn kernels make for an incredibly cheap and satisfying snack. When not drenched in butter, the kernels are also healthy, and will save you a fortune on microwave popcorn.
9. Tomato Paste
When you’ve got tomato paste in your pantry there’s no need to spend big on pasta sauce, passatta and pizza sauce. You can make it all with just a few spoons of tomato paste!
Frugal cooks know that pasta is the lifesaver of any kitchen with a budget. Use it as a regular meal side, or to beef up just about any dish for a hearty and long-lasting sense of fullness.
11. Dry Beans
Canned beans are certainly more convenient, but dry beans are so much cheaper, particularly when you have many mouths to feed. Plus buying and preparing dry beans can help you reduce their… audio nature.
A very cheap way to get a chocolate fix, cocoa can be added into everything from baked goods to home made hot chocolate, and it’s made to last.
With the cost of meat rising every time we shop, eggs have become the saving grace of many families. They’re a great source of protein, and can be added to many meals or simply eaten on the side.
14. Canned Tuna
We aren’t talking about flavoured tuna here, but instead the large cans of tuna in brine. This kind of tuna can be purchased very cheaply, stores well, and is a great way to add omega 3 into your family’s diet.
15. Olive Oil
Olive oil doesn’t seem like the cheapest option, but when you buy in bulk you’ll find it makes much more sense. Keep an eye out for the multi-litre tins available in many supermarkets.
16. Canned Tomatoes
Tomatoes can be expensive, but with canned tomatoes often available for under $1/each these are a simple and cost-effective way to bring more nutritious produce into your lives.
Potatoes, and other root vegetables, are such an inexpensive ingredient to add to casseroles, breakfast foods and side dishes. When stored correctly, and monitored, they last well.
Onion does a great job of enhancing the flavour in a variety of dishes, and is absolutely worth keeping on hand in the pantry. Not only are onions cheap, they’re versatile to boot.
Now widely and cheaply available in its minced form, you’d have to be crazy not to keep garlic in your pantry all the time. It’s a flavour booster, and called for in many recipes.
20. Spring Onion
What we love about spring onion is that they go on forever. One onion can be grown over and over again by just submerging the white part (with roots) in water for a few days.
Spices can be expensive, but without them food wouldn’t be half as interesting. Have a careful think about the spice you use regularly, and make sure to always have those on hand, storing them in the freezer to extend shelf life.
22. Chicken Stock
There are so many recipes that call for chicken stock that it’s just smart cooking to keep it on hand. You can choose to stock up on the carton stock, which can be expensive, or make your own from scratch and freeze it in batches. Alternatively, use powdered or cubed stock.
23. Frozen Veggies
There’s nothing wrong with using frozen vegetables, and we love that these veggies provide a cheap and easy way to put veggie-filled dinners on the table. Stock up, and don’t be afraid to chuck in a handful or two.
24. Cheap Sausages
Thanks to Australia’s passion for barbecuing, you can now buy large packs of cheap sausages at most major supermarkets. They might not be the best quality, but they are affordable and can be easily frozen in family sized portions for later eating.
Mince isn’t always cheap, but when it is it pays to stock up and freeze as much as you can fit. Mince is a staple in many family homes, and it can be added to a wide variety of meals for a protein kick.
If you make your own bread, then definitely keep some rolls on hand, but if you’re buying stock up when they’re cheap and freeze. Bread rolls are great for lunches, snacks and a number of dinners from soups to burgers.