Keeping your kitchen stocked with frugal staples is an easy way to help you save money on groceries. By having the following ingredients on hand, you’ll be able to make a variety of inexpensive meals and always have a frugal base of ingredients to use when creating your meal plan.
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1. Dried Beans. Dried beans are far less expensive than canned beans –preparing your own is definitely worth the effort! To save time when preparing, cook dried beans in the slow cooker and store in the freezer for future use! Or here’s how you easily can cook dried beans in the oven.
2. Rice. Whether you choose brown rice or white rice, they can both be found inexpensively and be used in a variety of frugal meals.
3. Tomato paste. One can of tomato paste can be used for so many things and is cheaper than purchasing tomato sauce, pasta sauce, etc.
4. Flour. When you’re trying to cook and bake from scratch, flour comes in handy for many dishes and it’s such an inexpensive ingredient, there’s no reason to not keep it on hand!
5. Oats. Oats are one of the most frugal ingredients to keep in your kitchen! They can be used for much more than a bowl of oatmeal –you can use them to stretch your ground beef, make inexpensive baked goods, granola, or as an addition to homemade smoothies and more!
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6. Yeast. Keeping yeast on hand will allow you to make homemade bread, pizza dough and more at a moment’s notice.
7. Lemon Juice. Lemon juice is a versatile ingredient that can add a dash of flavor to almost any meal inexpensively!
8. Pasta. Keeping pasta-based dishes in your meal plan rotation is definitely an easy way to keep costs down.
9. Peanut Butter. From a PB&J sandwich to baked goods, peanut butter is an inexpensive ingredient to always keep on hand.
10. Eggs. Frugal cooks know that eggs can be used for more than breakfast! Eggs can be an inexpensive addition to a frugal dinner, such as a stirfry, eggs baked in potatoes and more.
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11. Potatoes. Potatoes are an inexpensive ingredient to use in casseroles, breakfast dishes and side dishes.
12. Olive Oil. While it is one of the more expensive items on this list, olive oil will be one of your most-used items as a home-cook. Use olive not just in its traditional uses, but also to stretch your budget even further by making your own homemade vinaigrette and mayonnaise.
13. Popcorn Kernels. Popcorn can make a frugal and relatively inexpensive snack. Here’s how I make brown bag microwave popcorn for only $0.12!
14. Cocoa. from hot chocolate to a variety of baked goods, keeping cocoa on hand is an inexpensive way to get your chocolate fix (bonus: it seems to last forever, or at least it does for us!).
15. Onion. Onions are an inexpensive flavor-enhancer that is used in many recipes! This ingredient may likely already make it onto your shopping list every week, as it’s such a common ingredient.
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16. Cilantro. If you cook a lot of ethnic dishes, keeping cilantro on hand is a great way to add a dash of authentic flavor inexpensively. One bunch of cilantro can typically be purchased for under $1 and can last for many uses!
17. Green onions. Green onions are the gift that keeps on giving. Buy once and you can regrow them almost indefinitely on the kitchen counter!
18. Garlic. Many recipes call for garlic, so keeping it on hand will ensure that you’re able to inexpensively flavor a variety of dishes. I prefer to use minced garlic because it saves time and a bit of clean up work.
19. Raisins. A frugal mix-in for a variety of breakfast dishes and baked goods. I often use them in my homemade oatmeal packets.
20. Frozen vegetables. Frozen veggies are often a steal in comparison to fresh vegetables and they’ll last much longer, so there’s no worry of them going bad.
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21. Tortillas. Tortillas can be used to make a variety of dishes such as enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas and more. Corn tortillas are typically less expensive than flour tortillas.
22. Sausage/Kielbasa. Sausage can often be a frugal way to add meat to a meal while using a small amount. Simply chop or dice it into small pieces and add into soups, stews or a simmering pot of beans.
23. Ground Turkey/Ground Chicken. If you’re a meat eater, you’ve likely noticed the rising price of ground beef! Ground turkey or ground chicken are typically less expensive alternatives and can often be swapped for ground beef in recipes without a loss of flavor.
24. Spices. Stock your pantry with your favorite spices to inexpensively flavor meals. Be sure to keep both sweet and savory options on hand for baked goods.
25. Chicken broth. Chicken broth is a common ingredient in soups, pasta dishes and casseroles. It can typically be found for under $2, however, it’s even less expensive to make at home. Here’s how to make your own crockpot chicken stock at home.
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Have a frugal kitchen staple of your own you’d like to add to the list? Tell us your additions in the comments below!
If you really want to save money, buy the brown rice instead of white rice. It costs a little more, but it fills up the belly for an extended period of time, so you can use less. For our family, I’ve found that 1/4-1/2 cup per person is more than enough, compared to 3/4-1 cup per person of white rice. Brown rice contains the extra protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals that will help boost the nutritional value of each meal and help stretch each meal a little further. For us, it’s completely worth the slight extra cost, because after accounting for extra nutrients and needing less of it, brown rice is actually cheaper!
I buy large bags of fresh lemons when the price is right. Bottled lemon juice is disgusting and lemons don’t last forever so I squeeze the lemon juice and freeze it in ice cube trays. Pop the cubes out and save in a freezer bag.
Question, have you figured the electronic cost on freezing beans. The pennies saved many not be saved when all costs are added in comparison to canned on such a cheep item on sale.
K. Chatterton says
Just an additional word about onions, I grow many of my own herbs and onions. When I harvest my onions, I chop them, freeze them in a 1/2 cup portions using a cupcake pan, then move the “pucks” to a freezer bag. Then all winter I pull out 1-2 pucks depending on recipe. It saves time in chopping and clean up. If you don’t grow your own produce, save, chop and freeze the leftover onion from all those recipes that call for 1/2 onion. It is easier, less smelly and less wasteful than throwing it out after it has been in the fridge for a week.
If you really want to trim your budget, save a lot more than money (your health), not support wasting food that we could use to feed ourselves that’s instead fed to animals, and save those animals from a horrible existence in CAFO’s, grow some of your own food and go plant based.
Powdered Milk! Great to use for baked goods and handy if you run out of “real” milk and don’t want to run to the store. You can also use it to stretch your “real” milk. My only thought for drinking it is to make it with warm water and then put in the fridge to get it ice cold.
add a drop of vanilla and a little sugar…world of improvement!!!!
Here, here to growing your own herbs. I save a bundle that way.
I’d add vinegar to the list (cidar and white). One, it’s a component in homemade salad dressings. To, if you find yourself with more produce than you can eat you can slice them and cover with vinegar and a pinch of sugar and let them pickle for a while – as refrigerator pickles to eat sooner, or for long term canning to eat later. Plus, vinegars are great for homemade cleaning products and some homeopathic health remedies. You can even kill weeds in the garden with vinegar. It’s cheap and incredibly versatile.
I’d also add iodized salt and baking soda to the list too. Salt is the easiest way to flavor food and it can be used for food preservation and for cleaning. Baking soda is essential for scratch baking since most baked goods use this levener. And of course it’s great for natural cleaning, too. (Aldi’s sells both for under $1.00)
Jazmin Rode says
Can’t believe I forgot to add vinegar! I use it daily to save $!
I grow some of my own herbs: oregano, thyme, basil, tarragon, chives, rosemary. Even if you don’t have a gorden, most of thiese are happy in a pot or window box. My oregano, thyme, tarragon and chives come back every year, so I save even more. I get enough basil, chives and oregao most years to dry or freeze and last until my plant is ready to harvest the next year. I haven’t tried drying the tarragon or thyme, yet.
Great ideas! I would cross out 21 – tortillas… you already included flower, oil… it doesn’t need much more, only water and salt… And one to add, I always have tomatoes at home, either fresh or canned. Great additions to meals.
Jazmin Rode says
Great ideas! Tortillas would be even more frugal homemade!
Jazmin Rode says
Growing your own herbs is a FANTASTIC way to save even more!