Money saving tips 2: Stock your pantry smartly

I found this Money saving tips from Sandra Lee from Food Network on their website. I’ll introduce some of them from time to time, and expand with my own optimization tips. Today’s tip is to stock your pantry smartly.

Sandra’s Tip: Buy staples in bulk to save money and stock your pantry smartly.

  • Keeping a few key items on hand like seasonings, baking mix, condiments and lean protein will ensure that a tasty meal is just a mixing spoon away.

Kitchen Wizard Tips on stocking your pantry:

One of the biggest keys for optimizing your cooking efforts is to have a well-stocked pantry. Your ideal pantry really depends on your eating and cooking habits, ethnic background etc.  Since I’m Japanese, and I love to eat a variety of foods from around the world, my pantry consists of many things that many people may not even have heard of.  Yet there are things that every kitchen should have, such as eggs, milk, bread, onions, carrots and potatoes.

Here are the things that I believe should be in everyone’s pantry.  By having a well stocked pantry (and a willingness to deviate from a recipe when you need to), you should be able to eliminate unnecessary trips to grocery store – which saves you a ton of time, not just money.

You may want to tweak it based on your eating habits and add the quantity you need and print it out… Post it on your fridge, mark it when something is running out, and grab it with you when you go grocery shopping so that you won’t miss anything.


  1. Kosher salt or sea salt
  2. Black pepper, chili flakes, curry powder and bay leaves
  3. Soy sauce (especially if you cook a lot of Asian dishes)
  4. Vinegar – wine, Balsamic and/or rice vinegar (especially for Asian dishes)
  5. Oil – extra virgin olive oil, canola, sesame oil (if you cook a lot of Asian dishes)
  6. Wine – red, dry white and/or sake (for cooking.  Don’t buy “cooking wine”.)
  7. Sugar or honey
  8. Canned tomatoes
  9. Canned tuna in olive oil
  10. Canned beans (Chickpea, canellini or black beans)
  11. Rice
  12. Pasta
  13. Bread
  14. Flour
  15. Canned stock or bouillon cubes
  16. Nuts, seeds (Sesame seeds, for Asian dishes)
  17. Dried fruits (especially raisins)


  1. Eggs
  2. Butter
  3. Milk, cream, yogurt
  4. Cold cuts, meat, seafood, tofu
  5. Onions, green onions (especially if you cook a lot of Asian dishes)
  6. Carrots
  7. Celery
  8. Potatoes
  9. Lettuce
  10. Some kind of green vegetables
  11. Mushrooms
  12. Garlic
  13. Ginger (especially if you cook a lot of Asian dishes)
  14. Lemon
  15. Apples
  16. Banana
  17. Parmiggiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, Gruyere
  18. Mustard
  19. Mayonnaise


  1. Chicken tenders or breast
  2. Individually portioned ground meat and/or uncooked sausage
  3. Seafood – shrimps, scallops, seafood mix
  4. Corn
  5. Green peas
  6. Mixed berries

With this list alone, you are equipped to whip up dozens of different variety of dishes. By adding other fresh ingredients, and tweak the recipe with what you have on hand rather than what’s it’s called for, your options are infinite.

What are your favorite pantry items you can’t live without?  What kind of ethnic item do you recommend and why? Please share with us.

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2 thoughts on “Money saving tips 2: Stock your pantry smartly

    • Thank you, Mary!
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