Keep Your Family Fed By Stocking These Staples for Your Pantry, Fridge & Freezer

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A well-stocked kitchen can mean the difference between a delicious and frugal home-cooked meal and expensive takeout. Here’s a huge list of time & money saving kitchen staples I try to always have on hand so I can pull together quick meals for my family of six. Plus there’s a printable kitchen staples list at the end of the post!

pantry checklist

Time & Money Saving Kitchen Staples for Your Pantry, Fridge & Freezer

I try hard to keep my kitchen gadgets pretty minimal, but all bets are off when it comes to food. Certain food items just need to be in my kitchen at all time so we can feed our starving family of six. Having a stocked kitchen means I can get in out of the store pretty quickly because I always know what to buy. It also helps me save money by having ingredients on hand at all times for quick homemade meals.

pasta, cereal, canned good shelves in a dark wood pantry

Must Have Pantry Staples

I have an amazing pantry off my kitchen that is full of nonperishable food and my kitchen appliances. I buy a lot of our nonperishable pantry items in bulk because I have room to store them in this great space and because it saves me money. If you don’t have a lot of room, you can just buy these items in smaller quantities.

  • Dried Beans –  Pinto, black beans, kidney beans. I cook unsoaked beans primarily in my Instant Pot with great success and we eat them a lot.
  • Jasmine Rice – I’m really picky about rice, and the only type I like is jasmine. I do have small bags of  brown rice and quinoa also, but don’t prefer them so they primarily take up real estate in my pantry.
  • Granola – While I have all ingredients on hand to make my own granola, I haven’t made it quite some time. Part of the reason is I’ve found delicious store bought granola at a reasonable price. Cascadian Farm (we visited their farm stand last summer when we were in Washington!) makes a delicious granola and also a new Organic Strawberry Granola too.  We love to add a scoop of granola to yummy yogurt and berries for a quick snack or breakfast in the morning.
  • Cereal – Cereal is not something that enjoys a permanent place in my pantry, but when I’m out of town and dad is in charge, I’m glad to find organic options that are free of high fructose corn syrup, synthetic colors, and preservatives. My kids have long been fan of Annie’s so you will find Annie’s organic cereal in our pantry from time to time. They love Annie’s Organic Cocoa Bunnies & Organic Gluten Free Cinnabunnies Cereal. It’s a great treat that never lasts long at our house.
  • Pasta – spaghetti, penne, lasagna – because hello. Pasta! 🙂
  • Taco fixings –  shells, tortillas, tortilla chips, homemade canned salsa. Taco Tuesday, anyone?
  • Canned goods –  Pumpkin, tuna, tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, pizza sauce. Most of my tomato based canned goods I try to can myself but I do stock store bought canned goods when I’m out.
  • Nut Butters –  We love nut butters on apples and bread and I usually stock organic peanut butter, sunflower butter, almond butter.
  • Raw Nuts – raw walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, pecans are our favorites. We make trail mix and just eat them by the handful.
  • Baking goods: whole oats, organic whole wheat white flour, wheat berries, ten grain cereal, flax seeds, chia seeds, cocoa powder, chocolate chips (these always seem to disappear! Not sure how that happens…)
  • Sugar – raw sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar
  • Popcorn – for popcorn snacks and also for cornbread (I grind the popcorn into cornmeal.)
  • Raw Honey 
  • Potatoes – Yukon gold, red potatoes, russet potatoes (primarily whatever I can find that’s organic), and sweet potatoes
  • Stock – I often make my own stock and freeze it, but sometimes I also have chicken and beef stock in my pantry for convenience sake. fridge and contents

Must Have Fridge Staples

If you open my fridge, you’re likely to find a lot of leftovers and also a bunch of food, especially if I have just been to to the grocery store. My kids get in the fridge an awful lot. Here’s what you’re likely to find in my fridge:

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  • Butter – must have butter. I usually also have extra butter in my freezer, just to be safe.
  • Bacon grease – I collect bacon grease every time I make bacon and keep it in my fridge. I use bacon grease in a lot of different ways.
  • Cheese – sharp cheddar, string cheese sticks, Havarti slices, feta, Parmesan
  • Milk – whole milk, half & half, almond milk, kefir
  • Yogurt – tubes, plain whole milk. We eat a lot of yogurt for breakfast and snacks.
  • Condiments – Spicy mustard, Yellow mustard, Organic ketchup, organic mayo, organic jelly, Worcestershire sauce, Tamari sauce, fish sauce, pickles, pepperoncini, olives
  • Fruit – apples, lemons, limes, And then whatever’s in season: pineapple, tangerines, grapefruit, mango, melon etc
  • Veggies – carrots, lettuce, green onions, spinach or kale, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Meatbacon, lunchmeat: turkey, ham, salami
  • Baking goods – yeast, baking powder, cultured butter milk powder (Yes, I keep these in the fridge!)
  • Hummus – hummus is one of our favorite snacks. We eat with fresh veggies or as a wrap with turkey slice and avocado. The kids like it with tortilla chips.
  • Store bought eggs – I have my own chickens so I really only buy eggs in the winter when my hens aren’t as productive. Eggs are a must have staple in my life for everything from baking to dinners and breakfasts. meat freezer with lots of packages of white paper wrapped meat

Must Have Freezer Staples

I have a large freezer in my basement primarily for the meat I buy in bulk from local farmers and any garden veggies I may have frozen during the summer.

  • Local pork – hams, bacon, sausage
  • Local beefground beef, roasts, steaks, soup bones
  • Chicken – whole chickens I raise myself. I also buy cuts of chicken (legs, thighs, breasts) when they’re on sale
  • Frozen fruit – blueberries, mango, strawberries, bananas (when my fresh bananas go brown)
  • Frozen veggies – corn, broccoli, peas
  • Seafood – wild caught Alaska salmon, shrimp
  • Butter
  • Bulk nuts – I store nuts in the freezer sometimes too.
  • Fresh ginger – I love having fresh ginger and grate frozen ginger right into my Asian dishes like this delicious shrimp lo mein.
spice drawer with lots of containers of spices

Spices, Counter,  & Lazy Susan Staples

My spice drawer, counter, and lazy susan house most of the food I need to access while I’m cooking. Here’s what you’ll find in close proximity to my stove top.

  • In my counter produce basket: onions, garlic, tomatoes, butternut squash, bananas, very hard avocados (I move them to fridge when they start to soften up a bit.)
  • Spices – unprocessed salt (REAL salt, Himalayan salt, Celtic sea salt); black pepper (whole corns & ground); chili powder, oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, red pepper flakes, paprika, cumin, dill, bay leaves, alum, cinnamon, tumeric, onion powder, garlic powder. With these spices I make my own spice mixes – taco seasoning. blackened fish seasoning, rotisserie chicken seasonings.
  • Oils – olive oil (for dressings & low heat cooking), avocado oil (high heat cooking), coconut oil
  • Vinegars – apple cider vinegar, balsalmic vinegar, red wine vinegar, homemade gourmet vinegars,
  • Baking goods – I have more baking goods in my Lazy Susan: flour, baking soda, dried fruit (raisins etc), vanilla
  • Farm fresh eggs – the eggs my chickens lay do not need to be refrigerated as long as they haven’t been washed. They live on my counter too.

And that’s about it! It seems like a ton of food to write it all out. Now you know what staples I stock in my kitchen to keep homemade meals on the table. To help you stock your kitchen, I made a printable Pantry Checklist! Download it here and start filling up your pantry too!

Take stock of what’s in your kitchen, and then head to your favorite store to fill in the gaps. I’m really happy with all the organic options I found at Walmart the other day – organic potatoes, spices, and fruits and veggies too, plus lovely organic granola from my favorite Cascadian Farm, and my kids’ favorite Annie’s cereals. Download this printable and stock your pantry, spice drawer, fridge, and freezer!

Time & Money Saving Kitchen Staples for Your Pantry, Fridge & Freezer

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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