From Antivist

Keeping a well stocked pantry will save you time and money throughout the year, and enable you to throw a quick dinner together on a moment's notice.


  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard Greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Green beans
  • Green peas
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Sea vegetables
  • Spinach
  • Squash, summer
  • Squash, winter
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Yams
  • Watercress


  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cranberries
  • Dried Fruit
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Lemon/Limes
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Beans & Legumes

  • Black beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Miso
  • Pinto beans
  • Soybeans
  • Tofu

Low-Fat Dairy

  • Eggs
  • Milk, goat
  • Yogurt


  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp

Nuts & Seeds

  • Almonds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Tahini
  • Walnuts


  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • Quinoa

Natural Sweeteners

  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup


  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Green tea
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Olive Oil
  • Soy sauce (tamari)
  • White Vinegar

Dry Goods

  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Cornmeal (Polenta)
  • Cornstarch
  • Flour
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Pasta (Couscous)
  • Popcorn
  • Spices
  • Yeast

Canned Goods

  • Beans
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Chicken Broth
  • Refried Beans
  • Salsa
  • Tomato Paste
  • Tomato Sauce

Basic Pantry List

Condiments (make link for common condiments and recipes)

Applesauce Barbecue Sauce Ketchup Mayonnaise Mustard Salad Dressing Relish

Snacks (common snack recipes)

Graham Crackers Pretzels Crackers Tortilla chips

Dairy recipes needed:

Buttermilk sour cream cream cheese yogurt

Store Bought Convenience Foods that are Usually Good Buys

Day old bread from bakery thrift stores is the best use of one's bread dollar. Bread that's approaching it's sell date is offered for sale at a discounted price. Usually you can save at least half of the in-store price for the same bread. If you have a bread outlet available to you then buy enough to use and freeze until your next visit.
It costs the same or less than homemade pasta depending on the price of eggs. Store-brand spaghetti and macaroni are usually the least expensive and the most versatile. Egg noodles are also nice to have on hand, but they cost a third to half again as much as spaghetti and macaroni. If you must buy whole wheat pasta then look for a discount brand.
Crackers, Chips & Snacks
Saltines, Graham Crackers & Animal Crackers are all reasonably priced when purchased in store-brands. The most they should cost you, even during these days of inflation, is $1 a pound. Saltines are incredibly versatile. Pretzels and tortilla chips can usually be found for 6¢ to 8¢ per ounce. They should never cost more than a dime per ounce. Tortilla chips are good for dipping in salsa, sour cream or yogurt-cheese, or melted velveeta-type cheese. They can also be sprinkled with shredded cheddar and nuked until gooey. Pretzels are good plain, dipped in mustard or ranch dressing, and mixed in with your own homemade snack mix.

While on the subject, peanuts, sunflower seeds, cold cereal (in large bags) and plain popcorn are usually good snack buys. Popcorn is the cheapest, especially if you pop it yourself at home. Potato chips are just about the worst buy in the snack aisle. Five ounces for $2 is not a wise use of funds.

Dried & Canned Beans
Believe it or not, dried beans were one of the earliest convenience foods. They could be safely stored for long periods of time without deteriorating, were relatively light weight, and are easily prepared by anyone with 4 hours to watch a pot. These days though, we have something a bit faster: canned dried beans. The canned variety is certainly convenient: just open the can, season, heat and serve. This saves the work of soaking and simmering your own beans from scratch. While canned beans are relatively cheap, they cost at least twice or thrice as much as the dried variety. When every minute counts canned beans are a reasonable resource, especially when purchased at 3/$1. If you have the time though, you owe it to yourself to make them from scratch. They are lower in sodium and taste better too. Cooked beans can be frozen or home-canned with a pressure cooker for added time-savings. A 15-oz can of beans equals about 1-1/2 cups of cooked beans.

Quick Soak Method for Beans: Cover your beans with a few inches of water. Bring them to a boil and put a lid on the pot. Turn off the heat and allow the beans to soak for an hour. Drain and cover the plumped up beans with fresh water. Simmer on the back of the stove for an hour or two, or until tender. Season and use as desired.

Overnight Soak Method for Beans: Cover your beans with a few inches of water. Soak them overnight. The next day drain them, cover them with fresh water and simmer for an hour or two, or until tender. Season and use as desired.

Frozen Vegetables
They often cost less than their fresh counterpart plus all of the work of cleaning, slicing, peeling, stringing and scraping is already done. Simply plop the veggies into boiling water or in the top of a steamer pan and within 5 minutes fresh, hot, crunchy veggies are ready for the family. The main convenience for frozen vegetables is the work they save. They are also handy to keep around because they store in the freezer for a full year if necessary. This means that when there is extra cash in the budget you can stock up without worrying about waste. The only bad buys among frozen veggies are carrots, which are almost always cheaper when purchased fresh in 5lb bags, and any frozen vegetable in a sauce. You pay the same premium price per pound for the sauce as you do for the vegetable. Plain frozen vegetables are always a better buy. Make your own sauces and save yourself a ton of money.
Instant Mashed Potatoes
Instant mashed potatoes are filling and taste good. They save the time of peeling, chopping, boiling and mashing potatoes from scratch, or about 45 minutes of work. They are relatively nutritious, containing moderate amounts of Vitamin C and Potassium. In addition, they are popular with most families, especially children. Fresh mashed potatoes taste better and are more nutritious, but they can't be fixed from beginning to end, in less than 5 minutes flat! Recently I've seen several packages of flavored instant potatoes. Don't waste your time or money on them. Plain instant potatoes are you best buy. It is easy as pie to add garlic powder, sour cream, or cheese to your own mashed potatoes. Doing it yourself saves lots of money and doesn't take much extra time, perhaps a minute at most. If you are really pressed for time, try making your own Garlic Mashed Potato Mix.
Powdered milk is my A #1 favorite convenience food ever. It's fat-free, tastes good and keeps for a very long time. I use it in cooking, for drinking and anywhere else I can. If you think powdered milk tastes icky, then your box of it is probably very old. Toss it out, buy a fresh box and mix up a pitcher full of frosty reconstituted milk. Once opened, dry milk tastes best if used within 3 or 4 months. Unopened it tastes best if used within a year. Even if it begins to take on a stale flavor, it is still good in cooking, where the flavor is less noticeable. Click Here for lots of information on delicious powdered milk.

Evaporated whole milk is another great buy. It's rich, full bodied texture and flavor make it a great substitute for heavy cream. It can even be whipped if well chilled first. When diluted with an equal amount of water you have the equivalent of whole milk. It won't taste the same for drinking, but it is excellent for cooking and making scrumptious hot chocolate. It's good in coffee or tea and costs less than fresh whole milk. Plus it sits on the shelf for a year or longer without going bad. Definitely worth keeping on hand.

Powdered buttermilk is available in the baking aisle of most supermarkets under the SACO brand. It costs less than fresh buttermilk and stores more easily. It can be used anywhere fresh buttermilk is used, even for making fruit smoothies and buttermilk ranch dressing. If you like to make your own baking mixes it's handy to keep on hand. I always make my homemade biscuits with powdered buttermilk and folks are always telling me how good they are. Not everyone will find powdered buttermilk as useful as I do. If you never use buttermilk then it will not be a good buy for you. If you do use buttermilk though, and hate having a quart of it in the fridge for a month or longer, then you'll find the convenience of preparing only a small amount at a time, much to your liking.

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