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Make Sure You Have These 9 Essential Pantry Items

Have you been paying attention to what’s going on with the cost of food? I just read that the average cost of ground beef in the U.S. has once again hit an all-time high. I believe it, and not only beef. It is shocking how grocery prices are going up, which underscores the need for a well-stocked pantry.


A person looking at the camera, with Kitchen Pantry

The way to fight back is two-fold:

  1. Buy groceries when they’re on sale
  2. Eat at home

Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well, it can be if you make sure your kitchen pantry is well-stocked. It’s annoying and expensive to not have basic items on hand. You don’t have what you need and don’t have time to go get it, which means, of course, you’ll just have to go out for dinner. Again. 

Taking the time and effort to make sure you always have the following 9 essential pantry items will save a lot of money, provided you pick these items up as they go on sale. Think of this as a project. 

MORE: 5 Fabulous Ways to Hack a Boxed Cake Mix 

Evaporated milk

I basically detest the stuff because I had to drink it as a kid. But used in cooking and baking, evaporated milk is fabulous! Keeping a few cans in your pantry ensures you’ll always have milk on hand when the recipe calls for it.

Dry buttermilk

This is amazing. You can find it in the baking aisle as “Cultured Buttermilk Blend.” I can’t tell you how many times buttermilk as an ingredient in something has thrown me to the wolves. Who keeps buttermilk on hand?

And when you need only a small amount, then what to do with the rest of it? This dry option is the answer. I keep it in the freezer and it lasts indefinitely. And I find myself reaching for it quite often.

Canned tuna

Always have a few cans of white albacore on hand. A good tuna sandwich is hard to beat, which makes it a great fallback. Mix with onions, pasta, canned tomato, and some sort of dried herbs to make a tuna casserole. Everybody should have one wickedly delicious Tuna Pasta Bake recipe up their sleeve.

Tomato sauce

Turn it into pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce. Add it to soup. Many quick and easy casseroles call for tomato sauce. If you have a few small cans as well as regular size, you won’t waste a bunch when a recipe calls for just a small amount of tomato sauce.

Frozen peas

Possibly my favorite thing to keep on hand, frozen peas kinda’ fix anything. Add peas to any pasta dish, stew, or salad and you’re adding nutrition as well as visual appeal.

Shredded cheese

You’ll save money if you buy bulk cheese and shred it yourself. But if you are not prone to do that ahead, buy it shredded. You’ll recoup the cost the first time you opt to fix a quick meal of quesadillas. And you’ll be good to go for a quick macaroni and cheese, too. And for pizza topping or to garnish chili.

Frozen chopped onions

Yes, you can chop it yourself if you happen to have an onion on hand. And you don’t have to buy them chopped. You can do this ahead and just keep a bag in the freezer. However, you do it, having this on hand is such a great idea. You’ll see.

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I think you need chicken, vegetable, and beef. It comes granulated, cubed or as a very thick, concentrated base labeled “Better Than Bouillon,” which you keep refrigerated. I prefer the latter, but any bouillon will get you out of a jam when you don’t have chicken stock or beef broth on hand. Or a recipe calls for bouillon. Or you just want a nice hot cup of chicken broth. It’s easy to use, simple to store.

Chicken broth

Keeping a few cans on hand is a smart idea. Again, you can make it yourself but will you? Canned broth or stock it an ingredient you will appreciate having on hand for bases, sauces, gravies, and soups.

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  1. Linda says:

    Dollar Tree has quarts of shelf stable milk, with no hormones, that comes in handy in a pinch. The taste is much better than evaporated milk.

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