11 Tips for Stocking Your Pantry on a Budget
Well-stocked pantry, here we come! Browse our top secrets to scoring pantry staples on a budget.
Browse the Bulk Bins
Items like rice, whole grains, pasta and dried beans are all pantry must-haves that you can be buying in bulk to cut costs and recession-proof your pantry. Since you pay by the pound, it’s especially good for rarer ingredients that you don’t need a whole box of, like coconut flour or hemp seeds. Here’s a collection of clever ways to store your bulk purchases.
Pay Attention to Expiration Dates
A pantry’s primary purpose is to store food that will last. So checking for expiration dates that are further out is key.
Pro Tip: Look at the back of the shelf in the grocery store. That’s usually where they stock products that expire furthest in the future.
Shop After-Season Sales
The best time to buy canned pumpkin? Right after Thanksgiving. The same logic applies to other seasonal pantry items, too. Immediately after a big holiday (Christmas, Halloween or even Labor Day, for example), stores try to get rid of their excess inventory by majorly marking down certain products.
Phone a Friend
If you have a small household or things tend to sit in your pantry for months (and even years), you might be worried about buying items in bulk and not using them before they expire. The solution? Split bulk purchases with a friend—you’ll both pay less per pound on your purchase and take home what you can actually eat.
Double Up on Coupons
Coupon stacking is a thing… and it’s saving shoppers a lot of money at checkout. If your grocery store allows it, use manufacturer or store coupons on top of the store’s weekly sales to knock down the price even further. Keep an eye on weekly ads and coupons so you know what all the deals are.
New to couponing? Learn how to tons of money.
Forget Brand Names
In my opinion, when it comes to pantry basics like boxed mac and cheese or canned corn, you can rarely tell the difference between the expensive name-brand version and the cheaper store brand. For store brands that are even more budget-friendly, check out stores like Aldi or Trader Joe’s.
DIY Canned Goods
Premade nut butters and canned chickpeas are convenient—but more convenience = higher costs. Save money by making your own pantry staples at home. Buy bulk almonds to puree into almond butter, for example, or opt for dried beans and peas over their canned counterparts.
Shop at Ethnic Grocery Stores
Spices tend to be some of the biggest budget-busters. Skip the costly containers at your regular grocery store and instead head to the local ethnic grocery store. Asian, Indian or Mexican food stores often sell spices in bulk for a cheaper per-unit price.
Become a Member
If you shop at the same store week after week, join their membership program to reap some major rewards. Members at stores like Wegmans, Publix or Harris Teeter are privy to special discounts, deals and coupons. Bonus: There are often incentives when you first sign up, too, including free items or a store gift card.
Stock Up During Weekly Sales
Black beans are on sale this week—but you already have a bag in the pantry. That’s okay! If you eat a lot of something, then buy a lot of it when it’s super cheap. Just check the expiration dates and stash it away for later.
Stick to What You Love
Just because you have a great coupon or some frugal living blogger said you should always have quinoa in your pantry doesn’t mean that’s true for you. Keep your pantry stocked with the products you use and brands you trust, and you’ll never end up throwing things away.