Stretch Your Food Budget With A Well-Stocked Pantry

This salmon & salad meal was prepared room ingredients we found in our pantry.

This salmon & salad meal was prepared from ingredients we found in our pantry.

Putting together a well-stocked pantry may strain your budget at first but save you hundreds of dollars over time. In this five-part series we’ll explore ways to assemble a pantry that fits your cooking style, meal plans and budget. By having ingredients readily available you avoid a trip to the grocer,  can change your meal plan, and be ready if company shows up. To get you started here are a few reasons for assembling a pantry and some ingredients you may want to keep on hand.


Stretching your food budget requires planning and possibly a change in thinking about what you include in your meals. Consider, when you are meal planning,  including lower cost salads and soups. You will be saving money by not buying high priced proteins.  When your meal plan includes higher priced protein and dairy you will find it difficult to keep costs under control.

Have reserve ingredients on hand so you will be able to assemble a meal without going to the store. When you have nutrient-rich ingredients from which to build soup and salads you will need fewer fatty foods or high priced proteins.


picture of vegetables

Having fruit and vegetables readily available for meals & snacks saves money.

Nutrient-Rich Salads      Part 1 of this series is dedicated to  listing ingredients needed to create a variety of salads.

Have some or all of these ingredients in your pantry:

  • Leafy greens such as Romaine, Swiss chard, kale and spinach
  • Olive oil and vinegar-based dressings such as vinaigrette or Italian. Lemon, herbs and fruit juice can enhance flavor.
  • Nuts or seeds such as pine, sunflower or grated almonds. These are a good source of oil and will add texture and interest to your salads
  • Think pasta! Spiral noodles, orzo,or wheels when added to your leafy greens and dressings are a welcome change.
  • Experiment with different cheese varieties. Each has a different taste, texture and hardness,

    Experiment with different cheese varieties. Each has a different taste, texture and hardness,

    Solid vegetables such as cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, celery & onions, add flavor, texture and interest

  • Sharp cheese like feta and Parmesan add a little dairy and flavor to salads.
  • A tiny amount of planned-over meat, poultry or seafood

TIP:    We find that if you have too many greens on hand they will not survive very long. Buy only what you will need for the week to avoid wasting money and greens. ( wilted greens can be added to soups, spaghetti and other sauces).

green bagsTips: Storing salad greens:

  • Store each in separate bag
  • Storage bag can be the breathable plastic earth bags that you can find in food coops or a wet paper bag soaked in water
  • Wash your vegetables and cut them for the size you will want for ease of preparation.
  • Have a tub in your freezer that you put left over vegetables in to use to create soups later.

Up next:

Pantry Series: Pt II Soup Stock

Pantry Series: Pt III Veggies & Fruit

Pantry Series: Pt IV Sauces, Condiments & Marinades

Pantry Series: Pt V Final Thoughts

This entry was posted in 2015, meal planning, Tips & Tricks and tagged , , , on by .

About Don R

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Retired teacher. Multiple successful business endeavors including screen printing / sporting goods business, executive director of a Boys & Girls Club, commercial fishing, and co-founding an alternative high school. Interests include family, hiking, cooking, Parkinson's research and developing an educational cooking program.