Do you have many mouths to feed on a tight budget? Do you have to sacrifice nutritional value of your meals to save money? No! As long as you have these cheap pantry staples on hand at all times you’ll be able to keep your family fed and well nourished.
Having your pantry stocked with the basics is a must if you plan to stick to your budget and not hit the drive-through or take out.
Even if you don’t have a meal planned for all the hungry people to eat in 30 minutes, a well stocked pantry will give you a nourishing dinner in no time.
I kept this list of pantry staples small because I only wanted to include foods that wouldn’t go bad (quickly) even in a power outage.
You’ll see I’ve included cheap pantry staples that are refrigerated. However, eggs, butter and hard cheeses (those that have been cured) will be good for quite a while without refrigeration. I’ll give details under each food item.
Cheap Pantry Staples in the Refrigerator
I always keep eggs on hand. I use them for breakfast, lunch and dinner so there is no going without them! They are a cheap source of protein and healthy fats and keep a body going for a long time!
Technically, if an egg has not been washed it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. There is a super thin membrane around the shell that protects the egg inside and naturally preserves it. Washing or vigorous wiping with a dry cloth can compromise this membrane. If you buy eggs from a neighbor or raise them yourself, ask for them not to be washed, just wiped with a dry cloth.
European egg standards call for no washing and no refrigeration of commercially produced eggs!
Butter is another food that is stable at room temperature for quite a while. Provided you don’t have particles of jelly and peanut butter swiped through your butter, it will not mold.
Lard, butter, tallow and coconut oil are all very shelf stable healthy fats to keep on hand.
I keep butter on my counter at all times so that it’s soft to room temperature and ready to go when I want to bake.
If you are in a warm season, be careful that the butter doesn’t melt away!
You can even give a hand at making your own butter!
I live in Wisconsin so I’ve always got three or more blocks of cheese started at a time!
I know cheese is expensive, but it is super filling and nourishing. In the event of a power outage, aged or cured cheeses will last quite a while without refrigeration.
Many cheeses become a delicacy with a thin layer of mold! Think bleu cheese.
Cheeses like mozzarella, colby and cream cheese are considered soft or fresh cheeses and will not last long without refrigeration.
Learn about the different hardness of cheese here!
Shelf-Stable Cheap Pantry Staples
For a gluten-free option, try these oatmeal blender pancakes that my sister-in-law introduced me to.
Potatoes need to be stored in a dark, dry cool place to last the longest. But under your kitchen sink will work, too.
To give them the longest shelf life, snap off the roots the minute they start sprouting.
Or plant the sprouting potatoes and get lots more in a few months!
Always having flour on hand gives you the freedom to bake any time you want.
It’s also great for making gravies, white sauces and cheese sauces. Grab my mini cookbook here for these recipes!
Rice stretches any meal. If your family has gluten-free needs, its another great cheap pantry staple.
Did you know that pastured lard has the richest dietary source of Vitamin D? Get some quality leaf lard from your butcher and render it down or buy (unhydrogenated) lard from a source you trust.
Not only is it shelf-stable, it’s also heat stable. Because it doesn’t easily go rancid, you can fry potatoes in a pan of lard one night. Let it sit in the pan. Then fry fish or something else in it the next night. Lard can withstand multiple re-heatings.
Usually it is cheaper than butter. Growing up, we used a lot of lard in baking. You can use pure lard in place of butter or half lard, half butter in cookies, breads or whatever you’re baking.
9. Canned Fish
Tuna. Salmon. Sardines. Another great source of healthy fats and protein, these fish will last forever.
Serve them on a salad. Make a mayonnaise salad. Add them to stir fry.
10. Peanut Butter
Just eat it out of the jar. Or make energy bites.
Dried beans are a wonderful cheap pantry staple to keep on hand because they are easy to store and full of protein.
12. Raw Honey
You may think something like honey that’s pure sugar would be silly to include in your pantry.
Raw honey has so many different uses besides food. Check out my article here about a few of the ways to use it.
Raw honey may seem like an investment up front, but it lasts a long time. Plus, it keeps forever. Sure, it may crystallize, but it is still good!
Optional Cheap Pantry Staples
If I had to cut one food item from this list it would be pasta. It takes up a lot of space in storage and its pure carbs.
But it’s sooo delicious! And pasta will last forever on the shelf. And it’s definitely affordable. If you’ve got the space, stock up.
Yes, hamburger is pricey. But you can make it stretch quite a ways with beans, rice and potatoes.
If you can, get your family to enjoy organ meats. Liver (ever heard of Braunschweiger?), heart and other organ meats are more affordable than higher cuts of meat.
The best part is offal (the internal organs we don’t normally eat these days) is the most nutritious part of the animal!
No matter what, keeping your family fed is the most important thing. Now that you are equipped with this list of cheap pantry staples you should keep on hand at all times, you will be able to whip up nourishing meals for your family in no time.