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Filling a pantry on a budget can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. My family is always looking for ways to save money and one of the easiest ways is by stocking up on supplies. You may not realize it, but buying in bulk, shopping sales, and using coupons can really increase your savings on food items when you’re shopping at the grocery store.
If you want to stock your pantry on a budget, here are some tips that can help. By following a few simple tips and tricks, you can quickly and easily fill your pantry with the foods you need.
Why Should I Keep a Full Pantry?
While it is wonderful to open up your pantry doors and look at a full stock of food, it can be a challenge to actually get to that point. Plus, it can be expensive! Knowing the tips and tricks to make the most of your local grocery store trips can help you get your pantry staples while maximizing your grocery budget.
If there is one thing that history has taught us over and over again, it is the simple fact that it is important to have food on hand for tough times. Those of us who plan ahead and stock up on important items make it easier for everyone when a pandemic, hurricane, or winter storm hits.
We spent 4+ years living in Alaska, and now we’re in the mountains of Colorado. It’s one of the best feelings to get an alert that a giant snow storm is coming, and I already have everything I need to weather the storm without issue, so we can relax and enjoy it!
You don’t need to go full Doomsday Prepper status, but having a well-stocked pantry with items that have a long shelf life is an incredibly simple way to guarantee food security, which can also help your financial situation. After all, if you can save money in one area of your life, you can use it to pay off another area, whether it be clearing debt or investing for your future.
Tip #1: Know Your Likes & Dislikes
Stocking up on 20 cans of white chicken chili because you found them on sale for practically pennies a can is no bargain if you hate the texture of beans.
Be honest with yourself about what foods you really enjoy so you can fill your pantry with items you will actually eat.
If it helps, make a list of your family’s favorites. Those will be the things you work on stocking up on. Even if it is only twenty items long, that will be twenty more things that you have a surplus of than you did before.
For example, we make a great, easy chili out of Bush’s Chili Beans. We sear stew meat that I keep in our deep freezer, add some onion, or even green onion I grow on our counter, and put 4 cans in either my Instant Pot or on the stovetop, then cook until the beans are the consistency we like.
Super quick and easy, plus it’s great if we are having a cozy snow day! We have a gas stovetop that can keep things at a nice simmer even if we happen to lose power.
Tip #2: Keep Track of Your Store’s Selling Cycle
Everything in your local grocery store has a selling cycle. That means there is a high price and a rock bottom price over a period of time. The trick is to purchase those items you want at the best price, and if you can add a coupon to it, even better!
It can be tricky to figure out your specific store’s cycle. If you save the weekly sales ads for about two months though, you will clearly see their pattern.
Watch for the lowest prices on staples like pasta and cereal around every six to eight weeks, so you can stock up and rock the deals. Keep a record of the lowest price to know when it’s time to buy.
It is amazing how buying ten boxes of pasta for a buck each saves you almost ten dollars if you eat a pasta meal every week and it is normally two dollars a box.
You can save a lot of money by simply paying attention to your grocery store’s selling cycle. For example, you can get pantry essentials like canned vegetables, peanut butter, olive oil, soy sauce, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, and pasta sauce at a discount if you buy them when they are on sale.
This should be your go-to trick from pasta, grains, ready-to-eat cereal, crackers, cookies, and more.
Tip #3: Check the Clearance Areas
Clearance in grocery stores doesn’t just mean dented cans. You can often find items that have been pulled off the shelves for a simple thing like the company changed their packaging. Maybe they did a store reset and have chosen to discontinue that item.
Occasionally things might be getting closer to their expiration date. If it is something like dried beans or rice, keep in mind that they found pasta and rice in the Egyptian pyramids that were still safe to eat in current times. If stored properly, it can keep past that suggested date.
Some things like rice, sugar, salt, and flour are practically invincible if they are stored correctly.
I love the site Still Tasty – www.stilltasty.com for a good guideline of how safe something is if it is past its date.
Tip #4: Clip Coupons
It is a little different to do this than it was just five years ago as almost everything has gone digital. Start with getting your store loyalty card. Some advertised specials are strictly for store card carriers.
Check their website to see if they have digital coupons that are tied to your store card. You can reap the rewards of these additional discounts without even getting out your scissors.
That being said, there are still paper coupons out there. Some are printed in your store’s ad circular and some are in your weekly free neighborhood papers that most people just throw out.
If you can stack a printed coupon with a digital coupon? What a way to save!
Tip #5: Jump at National Canned Food Month
Canned foods are a great way to bulk up your pantry on the cheap. February is National Canned Food Month, so there are a ton of incredible sales specials and extra coupons available. Canned meat, beans, vegetables, vegetable juices, fruit, fruit juices, and even canned milk are all great options.
If you missed canned food month? No worries, things like tuna and canned pasta meals are in that normal store selling cycle that we already mentioned.
If it isn’t February, look at buying dried beans and lentils instead of canned while you wait for your store’s canned goods to go on sale. The price is a lot better, and they will last longer. Once you cook them, they can be frozen for longer storage.
Tip #6: Buy in Bulk
The price of pre-portioned convenience really adds up when you look at the cost per ounce on an item. Let’s pick Doritos. You can buy a full bag, on sale for $2.50, or buy three to four bags at $0.75 a piece when you get the single serving packs. If you take that large bag and break it down into smaller bags, you will easily have six to eight bags of snacks instead of just three to four.
I am not saying you have to get the jumbo cans of baked beans, but all of those pudding cups, fruit cups, and 4 count cookie packs really charge you for that work of breaking them down. You can even buy some mason jars to fill and have snacks ready to go for your kids.
Tip #7: Learn to Can
If you get free produce or have a garden, canning your own vegetables will only take your time. You can save money on the cost of supplies that you need when getting started by looking at your local thrift stores or Facebook groups. Have no fear if you are new to the concept: you can learn literally anything on YouTube these days.
It really isn’t that hard to fill a pantry on a budget, and more importantly maintain it, once you have the tips and tricks down so you can do it.
While you’re adding alllll the things to your pantry, take a sec to read this post about organizing your pantry!
Fill Your Pantry On A Budget
By following these tips, you can quickly and easily fill your pantry on a budget. What tips do you have for filling a pantry on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!