Having a well stocked pantry is key to living frugally. Having a well stocked freezer is also key to living frugally. Your goal should be to stock up on a few items each week- items that are on sale, or at a discounted price. Below I will provide you with a list of what I consider 'essentials' for a pantry and a freezer.

Pantry Essentials.
  • Brown, White, Basmati, Jasmine Rice
  • Pasta (Spaghetti, Macaroni, Penne, Couscous)
  • Canned or Dried Beans (Black, Kidney, Garbanzo)
  • Canned Tuna/Salmon
  • Flour (All-Purpose & Whole Wheat)
  • Cornmeal
  • Grains (Quinoa, Barley)
  • Potatoes


  • Vinegars (Red wine, Cider, White)
  • EVOO
  • Soy Sauce
  • Mustard (Dijon, dried)
  • Salsa
  • Garlic (fresh and dried)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Tahini
  • Onions
  • An array of spices (Oregano, Basil, Coriander, Ginger, Cinnamon, Chilies etc)


  • Chicken/Vegetable/Beef Broth (I use bouillon cubes)
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Baking Powder & Soda


  • Honey
  • Brown & White Sugar
  • Confectioner's Sugar
  • Cocoa
  • Molasses
  • Chocolate chips

Freezer Essentials.

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Whole Chicken
  • Steak
  • Ground Beef
  • Ground Turkey
  • Whole Turkey
  • Pork (Chops and Tenderloin)


  • Frozen Green Beans
  • Frozen Mixed Vegetables
  • California Mix
  • Frozen Corn


  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes


  • Baked Goods
  • Ice Cream
  • Frozen 'freebie' meals.

These items are all considered 'essentials' because they are regularly used things. I keep my pantry stocked so that I'm:

  • not scrambling
  • not needing to run out during the day the get [insert item here] for dinner (which inevitably end up costing you quite a bit extra if you do it regularly).
  • able to eat 'pantry meals' which I are pretty much 'freebie' meals during the week.

It's easy to keep your pantry stocked. Make sure you have at least 1-2 cans ALWAYS on hand, and make sure that when things are looking low, you ensure that that week you purchase the 1 or 2 items that you need to restock your pantry.

One of my favourite places to go to stock my pantry is Bulk Barn. I can literally re-stock all my spices (we have a spice rack with 16 different spices in it) for less then $5. I can also get all my dried beans (garbanzo, kidney etc) and then just rehydrate them the day before I want to use them. It costs me cents! I've started purchasing my sugar from here as well, as it turns out to be MUCH cheaper then buying the prepackaged stuff. I buy my flour at Costco as it is the cheapest I've found so far. I do A LOT of baking (bread, buns, cookies, muffins etc) so I go through a lot of flour. As for the canned goods, I personally like Walmart. The no named stuff is WAY cheaper then the brand named stuff- and it's the exact same thing. I buy no name whenever I can- it's what all the cool kids are doing. I can all my own tomatoes, salsa, pickles, pickled carrots, cherries, applesauce and jams. I spend approximate $70 on 100lbs of tomatoes, which make approximately 30-40 jars of tomatoes and one batch of salsa which yields 12-15 jars. I'm talking the quart sized jars..not the small ones. I got my all apples free this year (I just had to pick them) and I got my grapes for free (I had to pick them too) as well. I think I got about 20 jars of applesauce and about 12 jars of grape jam...for basically no cost (aside from the cost of pectin and sugar). All my canning takes me a few weeks- but then I'm good for a year- maybe a year and a half. I personally think home canned things taste WAY better then the stuff you can buy in a can. AND I know what it in it so I know what my family is ingesting. In the summer, I buy extra fresh fruit (when it is on sale) and freeze it for the winter. It's great for smoothies, baking and just eating and it's much cheaper then buying the packaged pre-frozen stuff.

Keeping a well stocked pantry and freezer can cost you a few extra dollars a week (if that) and it is well worth it in the end.

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.


  1. I've read comments that a well stocked pantry is attainable (frugally) only if you do a few things in preparation: Firstly, know what a really great price is for the products you buy all the time. Then, when you see it at a great price, buy LOTS. We've noticed that certain things go on sale at different times of year. Flour, for instance always seems to be on sale just before Christmas. Same with raisons and nuts. If you do a bit of reading about this, you can find out when grocery stores schedule big sales on staples...I didn't believe it until I started to pay attention! Secondly, if you run out of something (you should try not to) DON'T buy it at full price. Improvise with other meals until you can get it at a great price again. I've heard of people really keeping the grocery bill down by doing these two or three things.

  2. great list Erin!! I am copying it so that i can get my bum in gear and get more organized. DH loves to go to the store daily... LOVES it... I am trying to decrease the reasons he has to go. He might not be trying to save and conserve, but I am.

    Thanks for the great post!!