Here is a list of budget-friendly basic pantry essentials you can use to stock up your kitchen. You would find these food items or ingredients in my store cupboard at all times. As much as I don't stock up on them like they are going out of season, I still have them in a good quantity for convenience.
I believe they are essential commodities every kitchen should have. That being said, I have found myself calling up friends for salt before on a Sunday morning... not ideal at all but hey, I am only human.
When stockpiling, you might want to stock up for what will last you for up to a week or two weeks at least. While you are at it, consider the old, disabled, the weak and people that can’t afford to bulk buy.
The list below may seem exhaustive, but they are the basic essentials you would need in your store cupboard. You don’t have to buy them all at once and if you did, then well done to you. Most of these ingredients are affordable and some you just need to top up as needed. Adapt these pantry lists to suit you
The world is not ending and even if that is the case, food should be less of your worries.
Here are some suggested lists of food to stockpile in an emergency or any other time for convenience
Best tips for stocking your pantry wisely and on a budget
Go for store-branded goods, it is a lot cheaper and has the same ingredients as your high street brand name. Don’t be surprised if what you are paying extra dollar or pound for came from the same supplier. trust me on this one, read the labels and you be surprised.
Don’t fall for the trap of BOGOF, only buy what you need and what you can afford.
Let the size of your panty/ store cupboard guide you when bulk buying.
Check the sell-by date/ expiration of the ingredients you are buying. Also, when stocking up on new items, bring out the stored ones and put the new ones at the back. That way, you get to use up the old stock before the new ones.
Check your stock level and make a list to avoid impulse buying. If possible and when possible, stick to your list.
Cooking oils and sauces
olive oil or any other flavourless oil
Vinegar (red, white or rice wine vinegar)
Soy sauce: dark, light or low sodium soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce (your pasta dishes and stew would thank you for this ingredient)
Dry spices, herbs and stock cubes
garlic powder or granules
Stock cubes or bouillon powder, that could be chicken, beef of vegetables
Ground black pepper and red pepper flakes
Dry beans (legumes) or canned beans
They take longer to cook but easier with an instant pot or any other pressure cooker
lentil: red, green or brown
Remember to check the best before dates on the items.
Canned tuna, Mackerel, Sardine
Salmon: not an essential commodity, I buy them when they are on sale
Canned tomatoes: chopped, crushed or plum
Coconut milk for the occasional curries
Sugar: brown sugar, granulated or caster or sweetener of choice
Pasta, Rice and other dry food
You can make a lot of meals from these pantry essentials, always check your cupboard and ask yourself if you really need to ring your takeaway or whip something up quick.
Rice: any types of rice you can get
Couscous: never cooked with couscous before then you should try this instant pot vegetable couscous. it can be made on the stovetop if you don't have a pressure cooker
Noodles: instant ramen or egg noodles, any is fine
You never want to leave these essential items out of your pantry list plus a cup of good tea makes all situations better
Sugar, honey, maple syrup or any other sweetener of choice
Hot sauce like sriracha or tabasco
Fresh milk, Long life milk or evaporated milk: these types of milk have good shelf life on them
Eggs: they can last for up to 2 weeks or longer
Lemon juice: buy whole lemons, juice it and store in a bottle
Ground beef: take it out of its packaging, portion and transfer to a Ziploc freezer bag. Flatten it and let all the air out, it saves you some freezer space.
Frozen fish: portioned for convenience
Chicken: boneless or bone-in chicken, portioned. Avoid freezing large birds and that would just take up all the space you can use for other essential stock.
Quorn mince for a vegetarian option
Cheese: shredded or whole, it freezes well too. I always shred my cheese and store in the freezer when it is nearing its sell-by date and that includes parmesan cheese.
Frozen vegetables e.g. spinach, mixed bell pepper, mixed vegetables, four-season vegetables etc
Sweets ideas (Snack)
Nuts (peanuts, cashew nuts, pistachio or whatever your favourite nut is)
Fruit and vegetables that last long (fresh produce)
The following fresh produce have at least 2 weeks shelf life on them and can stay out on the counter in a cool place without refrigeration
Oranges, lemon, clementine or lime
Onions and fresh garlic: garlic can be blended, portioned and stored in the freezer.
Red bell peppers, versatile and last up to 2 weeks in the fridge
Right, that is all from me, do let me know if I have missed anything out on this list. Remember whatever you do stay safe, only buy what you need and shop wisely.
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