Save Time and Money with Pantry Cooking

I love being able to make just about anything we want to eat with what we have in the pantry. It took me many years to learn how to cook without having to run to the store for every recipe. One thing that saves me tons of time and money is using my daycare menu, planning out meals for the fam, and only shopping once a month for staple items.

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Shop Local

I shop with Oklahoma Food Co-op once a month for my beef, wheat berries, yogurt when I don’t make it, and cheese. I also buy any pork products I may use from them as well. I try to buy local fruits and veggies when they have them available. Other products I may buy include garden plants, peanuts, peanut butter, and pasta. I love the Co-op because I know the food they sell comes from Oklahoma producers. I love to shop local.


I go to a local fruit company to buy produce in between my monthly shopping trip. I can get in and out of the small store with some local products and it doesn’t take me as long as going into a big supermarket. We also, during the gardening season, eat from what we grow, so I don’t usually go to the fruit store during summer.

I also shop for dairy products at Braum’s each week. I use Braum’s because there are not hormones in their milk. I get milk, cottage cheese, and butter there. I will also pick up bananas if I don’t need anything else from the fruit store to save a trip.

When planning our monthly shopping trip, I make a detailed list of what I would buy from the store we shop at. If I send my husband to the store, we save money because he only gets what is on the list and doesn’t do a lot of impulse buying like I do. He’s willing to go, so that’s a good way for us to save money.

Menus help cut down on waste

I have a shopping list that corresponds with my daycare menu, and I go through that and write down on our shopping list what we need. A great way to save money would be to use the grocery store ads to plan your family’s meals for the month. Use whatever is on the front page of the ads that is actually healthy, whole, real food, to plan them out.

Another great way to save time and money is by buying in bulk. I love to order bulk grains online and have them delivered in 25 or 50 pound bags so I don’t have to buy that for months and I don’t have a ton of tiny packages that get wasted in the landfill or have to be recycled. I get as much of my food in bulk as possible. Also, if you have 25 pounds of several products, if something happened to interrupt your food supply, you are prepared. I like knowing I have something to feed everyone no matter what.

I order these items in bulk:

Beans

Brown Rice

Wheat Berries

Raw Sugar

Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

Pasta

Spices

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Now let’s talk about what items I always have on hand:

Wheat berries to grind whole wheat flour (Soft and hard wheat)

Organic, unbleached white flour

Raw sugar

Salt

Baking Soda and Powder

Spices

Chocolate chips

Cocoa powder

Cream of Tartar

A couple of kinds of cereal

A couple of kinds of crackers

Tortilla chips

Tortillas

Olive oil

Coconut oil

Beans

Tuna

Pasta

Rice

Oatmeal

Bulk assorted meats frozen

A few bags of frozen vegetables or multiple packages of veggies frozen from the garden

Sour cream

Cream cheese

Butter

Cheeses (I always have cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan, but like lots of kinds of cheeses.)

Cottage cheese

Eggs

Milk

Rice milk for those of us who cannot tolerate cow’s milk

Peanuts

Sunflower Seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Sesame seeds

Dried herbs

Fresh fruits and veggies including lemons and limes plus whatever is in season

Onions

Garlic

Tomato products (usually frozen from garden produce, but some canned for when we run out)

Jars of pickles

Raisins (sometimes homemade)

White vinegar for cleaning and cooking

Balsamic vinegar

Apple cider vinegar

Honey

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Buying monthly cuts down on travel time and impulse buying

I can pretty much make anything I want to make with these items. I rarely have to go out and buy something to cook with and I cook an average of 4 meals a day including snack for the kids. If we want any sweet treats, I make those here, they are much healthier than store bought. They taste better too.

It’s so much easier to come up with a plan for dinner when you have food on hand and don’t have to run to the store every day to come up with a meal. I love knowing if we got snowed in or anything like that, we could still find something to make to eat. If you buy your food in bulk to cut down on packaging and well as wasting gas and time running to the store every night.

I have everything I need for tons of different meals made from scratch. I cook inexpensively using lots of oats, rice, pasta, and beans for our meals. These items are nutritious and very inexpensive.

Here are 23 things I could make from what I have:

Oatmeal

Granola or granola bars

Tacos/Burritos/Nachos

Taco soup

Vegetable soup

Scrambled eggs, bacon and toast

Bread

Muffins

Pancakes

Pizza

Spaghetti

Broccoli rice casserole

Cucumber salad

Chili

Roast with potatoes and carrots

Omelets

Grilled cheese sandwiches

Sausage Biscuits or Biscuits and gravy

Chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and veggies

Beans

Pasta salad

Meatballs or meatloaf

Cookies

Pulled pork sandwiches

Obviously there are hundreds more, these are just a few ideas. I hope you take these ideas and make a plan of your own to save time and money.

Don’t forget to pin for later.

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