How to have a well-stocked pantry and where to find bulk foods.

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My pantry has changed over the years and as my family grows, it will continue to change. In the early years of marriage I didn’t need much, but by kid number three, we were buying food in bulk.

We have lived in everything from a travel trailer to a run down house to large mobile homes to townhouses. Every home was a new tetris game for me. How am I going to fit all this food in this hole?

I went from eating packaged Lipton pasta mixes to making everything from scratch. I’ve tried almost everything, anyway.

Now that there are ten hungry people in my house, my bulk storage takes up half of my kitchen. We have two refrigerators and one deep freezer. Glass canisters for small bulk storage and food grade buckets with Gamma lids for large bulk items. Plus your “normal” pantry for packaged food.

It’s good to have a plan of where to store your goodies before you shop. Think about the space you have and how you can use it more efficiently. Figure out how much you need to feed your family. I usually buy a month’s supply at a time. Once you get all that figured out, it’s time to shop!

You can get access to my free pantry basics list by subscribing, but I’m going to go over some of those basics here.

When you start cooking from scratch it seems like it is costing you more money, not less. But once that pantry is stocked, the grocery budget starts to sink. Replace items as you run out and your pantry will remain stocked and ready for your cooking desires!

I have the same items I purchase every month, but I create different meals from them so we don’t get bored. I just fill in the gaps with occasional ingredients after I have menu planned.

So here we go …

{If you are curious what brands I use, I have left links for you.}

  • Coconut Oil – for the medicine cabinet and the kitchen. We fry eggs in this and cook our popcorn in coconut oil. I also use it in smoothies and as a butter substitute sometimes.
  • Avocado Oil – We use this for salad dressings and frying, the few times we need a high heat oil.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – We use this for bread making and salad dressings. We go through this oil the fastest. There is a lot of choices when it comes to Olive Oil, but I try to choose an oil that is close so that it doesn’t have to travel so far as it can go rancid. I also look for extra virgin. I don’t want a mix of olive oils either, so check to see if it comes from one area.
  • Sesame Oil – I buy the dark toasted oil. Love this for Asian cooking!
  • Almond Flour – I use this for breading chicken nuggets and making quick muffins. We also use it in some Trim Healthy Mama recipes.
  • Spelt or Kamut Grain – I buy these ancient grains and grind them for flour. Azure Standard is my go-to for large bulk items.
  • Corn Masa and Popcorn for Corn Meal – I grind up my popcorn for corn meal. I also purchase non-GMO corn masa for tortilla and pupsas making.
  • Raw Honey – We try to buy local raw honey if we can find it. A cooked honey is just sugar, all the minerals are gone.
  • Coconut Sugar – We use this as our go-to sugar. From coffee to baking.
  • Molasses – Really pay attention to the nutrient content of the molasses you are buying. They are so different!
  • Stevia – We used to use the liquid stevia for tea, but have since gone to drinking it unsweet. Now I use the powdered version in my smoothies and baking.
  • Maple Syrup –  I use this on pancakes, naturally. But we also use it in our salad dressings and corn bread!
dried goods
  • Beans – I keep  a large amount of beans and different varieties on hand at all times. Beans are a cheap source of protein, but we can get bored easily. I typically pick these up at Costco and the local grocery store.
  • Rice – I keep a small stash of brown basmatic rice and california white basmati rice because these have the lowest arsenic content.
  • Nuts and Seeds – I keep sunflower seeds handy for granola, almonds, pecans and walnuts for snacking and granola, and sesame seeds for salads.
  • Oats – We literally go through 50 pounds a month of oats! Granola, oatmeal bake, muffins, and plain ol’ oatmeal.
  • Spices and Seasonings – My stand by’s are Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  • Pasta – My son uses brown rice pasta, but the rest of us use whole wheat organic pasta. I try to always get organic wheat products as they spray the conventional crops heavily.
  • Canned goods – I don’t have a lot of these but keep tuna/salmon, canned tomatoes, canned tomato sauce and green chilies.
  • Veggies – I keep a freezer full of various frozen veggies from Costco. My usuals are green beans, broccoli, normandy mix, and organic corn.
  • Chicken Breast – Chicken is so easy to throw together a quick meal that I keep it stocked as well. Plus it’s cheap. I can’t afford organic.
  • Ground Meat – Also an easy meat to keep around. We always search for local grass fed beef. Sometimes I cut it with ground turkey to help it stretch since it can get expensive. We were recently blessed with some venison too!
  • Fruit – We love smoothies, so frozen fruit is necessary!

By no means does that cover everything, but it’s definitely a good start. You know your family’s favorite meals, start with those ingredients. Having a well-stocked pantry allows you the freedom to be creative. You aren’t tied to packaged meals or frozen cuisine.

Next week I will cover how I stock a pantry on a budget without losing my mind.

And for a sneak peek at my pantry …

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