Pantry Must-Haves on a Budget

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Welcome back. I hope you all enjoyed my first post back since relaunching this blog. There is a lot of exciting content to come and I look forward to sharing it with you all. 

If there was anything I was most excited about when moving into my own place, it was setting up our kitchen, and in particular, our pantry. I love have staple ingredients ready to be used at my fingertips. It makes things so much easier when it comes to recipe planning. 

So today, I decided to take you through my pantry staples that fit within our budget. Paying rent and also buying train tickets for my work commute has made me much more conscious about how much I spend on certain things. These are ingredients that can be put into so many dishes, combined with so many flavors, and created into delicious homemade meals, at affordable prices. 

One thing that I want to point out is that I have a few favorite places to get these ingredients from. Some I find at Trader Joe’s, others I will buy at Costco, and most can be found at Stop & Shop, which is the primary grocery store we use in conjunction with Peapod. However, you should be able to find these ingredients at your local grocery store, regardless of what it is. 

Costco, in particular, is a store I love because of its incredible prices (on most items). My boyfriend, Nick, loves taking granola bars with him to work and Costco allows us to buy them in bulk at a much more budget friendly price. They also have great prices on almond flour and almond butter, which I’ll talk more about below. 

For each product I’ve included the price to tally up at the end. 

A variety of flour and baking needs

I love to bake and I love to bake healthier alternatives to some of my favorite recipes (like these delicious chocolate chip cookies). Experimenting for many recipes has taught me that a mixture of different kinds of flour works best, particularly when it comes to a healthier recipe. 

Almond flour and all purpose flour are the two I have the most of on hand. I buy my all purpose flour from Stop & Shop or a nearby grocery store and it typically costs between $2 and $5. Unbleached flour contains more nutrients, but I tend to buy standard flour, which is bleached. Stop & Shop sells a 5 lb bag for $2.09. If you prefer to go with unbleached, Whole Foods (available for delivery through Amazon Prime) sells a 5 lb bag of their 365 Everyday Value unbleached flour for $3.29, which is much more affordable than many alternatives. 

I always buy almond flour from Costco’s Kirkland brand. A 3 lb bag costs an unbeatable $13.49. Amazon is the only website that I’ve found has similar pricing. Blue Diamond almond flour is listed at $13.44. I haven’t personally tried it, but it seems to be a good option based on the reviews. 

I also like to keep coconut flour on hand. Coconut flour is rich in fiber and MCTs. It’s dense and soaks up a lot of moisture, and it’s great when combined with some almond flour when baking. I purchase mine from Bob’s Red Mill, which is sold at many grocery stores. It costs $5.29 on the website. Amazon also has a 4 lb bag available for $10.89. Since I don’t go through this flour as quickly, I personally find that the 16 oz bag from Bob’s Red Mill is all I need. 

I also have baking soda and baking powder, which cost $1.29 and $3.99. 

Canned goods

I’m Italian so cans of tomatoes are usually always present in my apartment for whenever I want to make sauce. I like to use the Sclafani whole peeled tomatoes, which I typically buy on sale at two for $3. This is an item that I always stock up on when the price is discounted. 

I also like to keep an assortment of beans around like black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and pinto beans. These usually ring in at $1.00 each at my local grocery store. 

Pure coconut milk is sometimes difficult to find, so when I’m at Trader Joe’s I typically buy a few cans. They sell reduced fat coconut milk for $1.29, which is great for lower fat curry recipe, or coconut cream for $2.29, which is great for making some whipped coconut cream to top desserts or pair with berries.

Grains

Basmati rice and quinoa are usually our go-to choices that we always have on hand. We also have oatmeal. I love Trader Joe’s basmati rice and I haven’t found a better price at any grocery store near me. A 2 lb bag is only $2.99, which is amazing (although I do wish they would change the packaging to a material other than plastic). 

I buy quinoa at Costco where it costs $9.49 for a 4.5 lb bag. I haven’t found a better price anywhere else. I also pick up the box of Quaker Oats old fashioned oatmeal, which includes two 5 lb bags for $8.79. 

Nut butters

I love, love, love almond butter. I also really enjoy organic peanut butter. However, nut butters can be expensive. I buy my almond butter at Costco where it’s sold for $7.69. I stock up every time I go because the price is just that good. 

Peanut butter is also expensive, but I recently discovered the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value organic creamy peanut butter, which is only $3.99 and tastes delicious. 

Almond milk

Another Costco buy, a 12-count box of the Kirkland original almond milk costs $11.99, which is an amazing price when most brands cost around $4.00 for a single carton. I don’t buy regular milk anymore, so this is an absolute staple. 

Butter & oils

I barely use butter in my cooking, but one that I’ve had that has lasted me a very long time is the Earth Balance organic dairy-free butter. It’s a bit pricey at $4.29 from Trader Joe’s, but it’s an alternative that I really enjoy. 

For most of my cooking, I use either coconut oil or olive oil. (Fats are not your enemy!) Costco sells Filippo Berio Olive Oil for $21.99, so I tend to pick it up there unless another place has a better price. I also pick up Kirkland’s virgin cold pressed coconut oil, which is $15.99 on the website. 

Balsamic & Apple Cider Vinegar

A necessity for dressings, balsamic and apple cider vinegar are my two favorites to keep on hand. I buy the Monari Federzoni Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Stop & Shop for $4.99. Trader Joe’s has the best price for apple cider vinegar that I’ve found thus far. It’s $2.49 for a bottle. 

Frozen Fruits & Veggies

This is a bit harder to put a specific price on, but when it comes to frozen fruit I try to avoid the hefty prices that can sometimes be attached. I like to get the frozen Wild Boreal blueberries from Trader Joe’s, which costs $2.49 for a pound. I also pick up the organic mixed berry blend for $3.49. 

As for frozen vegetables, I like to stock up when something’s on sale. On average I would say these typically end up being $2 each on sale. I like to get a mixed variety, along with some frozen broccoli to quickly add to meals. 

Dried herbs and spices

When it comes to dried herbs and spices, it’s very easy for me to get carried away because these can transform any dish you add them to. Here’s a list of the ones I always like to have in my pantry based on where I bought them from:

  • Trader Joe’s 
    • Everything but the Bagel seasoning blend: $1.99
    • Chile & Lime seasoning: $1.99
    • Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Unami Seasoning: $2.99
    • Turmeric: $1.99
    • Seasoning salt: $1.99
    • Ground cumin: $1.99
    • Nutmeg: $2.99
  • General supermarket
    • Onion powder (Whole Foods sells their 365 brand for $2.99)
    • Parsley flakes (McCormick has a large container on Amazon for $9.01, which is a great value)
    • Oregano leaves (McCormick has a large container on Amazon for $3.98)
  • Costco
    • Pink Himalayan Salt: $5.29 (It comes with both a grinder and refill)
    • Black Pepper: $6.89 (Same as above)
    • Cinnamon: $2.99
    • Garlic powder: $5.99

Onions and garlic

These are another two items that vary depending on where you go. I personally go to my local market to pick up a bag of onions and fresh garlic. The prices vary depending on if they are running a discount on them, but I want to say these are both $2.50 each. The onions typically include 3 lbs in the bag and the garlic includes five bulbs. 

Fresh herbs

I can’t wait to one day have a garden where I can grow my own fresh herbs, but while I still live in an apartment I must rely on a local market. Herbs average $2 for a bit over half an ounce of herbs. I personally never use the entirety of that when I buy them so I typically freeze the rest to be used at a later date. I typically have fresh basil and parsley on hand for Italian dishes, and I buy any others if a recipe calls for it. 

Nuts and seeds 

I tend to vary whether or not I have nuts in the house, but I always have hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds

Flax seeds are the only thing I buy from Trader Joe’s for $2.99. They have great prices on nuts and seeds in general. However, the rest I buy at Costco. Hemp seeds cost $14.99 for a 1.5 lb bag, while a 3 lb bag of chia seeds is $6.89. I also bought sprouted pumpkin seeds from Costco that are listed at $9.99 online. However, they are currently sold out. 

Pasta

I keep a variety of Barilla pasta and Banza pasta in my cabinet and I always make sure to buy the Barilla when it’s on sale for $1 a box. On average I would say I typically have three boxes of Barilla at any given time. Banza pasta on the other hand is much more expensive, so I typically keep two stocked at $3.40 a box from Stop & Shop. If they’re ever on sale I make sure to buy a few extra. 

I also love the quinoa and brown rice fusilli pasta from Trader Joe’s, which is $2.99. I personally prefer the texture of this pasta a lot more than the Banza pasta, but I like to switch things up so I’ll usually have both to choose between. 

Sugar

The last category! I bake using a lot of coconut sugar from Trader Joe’s, which sells for $3.99. I also have granulated sugar and brown sugar for other baking needs. These retail for $2.69 and $2.49 at Stop & Shop. 

_____________

And the grand total is … *drumroll* … 

PantryMustHaves

At first glance, this may seem like a high price. However, when you realize how long many of these items will last you — most of this list will last me at least six months, if not more — you quickly realize how much value you are getting. With these things lasting at least six months, my boyfriend and I are technically spending $43.12 per month having these staples in our kitchen. Buying in bulk provides a huge discount on otherwise pricey items and knowing your prices/taking advantage of deals at different stores is a huge help. 

Everyone’s list is different, but I hope this one gives you some ideas. 

What are some of your pantry must-haves? 

Keep growing, 

xo Alexandra

Feature photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

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