Healthy on a Budget: Pantry Staples

I’m glad to hear you all are interested in the Healthy on a Budget series. I plan to throw something together every Tuesday until I run out of ideas, get tired of it, or win the lottery.

Wish me luck…


This week’s topic – Pantry Staples. We all seem to have a few things that are always stocked in our pantry. I’ve had the same half-used jar of Nutella since I made those Nutella-Oreo cheesecake bars in August. (I don’t know how it has survived that long either.) Yet, that’s clearly neither “budget’ nor “healthy.” Better examples include:

1. Beans! In my house, some are canned; some aren’t. Some are organic; some aren’t. It really depends on what I”m making, what’s on sale, and what additives are in the non-organic cans.


Your basic black, kidney, pinto, etc. beans aren’t on the “dirty dozen” list, but they’re often canned with preservatives that don’t sound so appetizing. However, I sometimes pretend I can wash off the preservatives when I rinse & drain them. This pretending generally occurs when beans are on sale…

2. Canned soup. I know canned soup isn’t always the healthiest option due to the sodium content, but a hot bowl of soup can be quite satiating. If you’ve got nothing else at home, and the delivery pizza menu is staring you in the face, be glad you’ve got that soup!

3. Spices. My spice cabinet may not be stocked with the fancy-pantsy stuff, but I use these babies alllllll the time. I have a lot of favorites, but my budget-friendly favorites include chili powder, cumin, curry powder, and cinnamon.

If an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure, you’re saving money in the long run here. Many spices have anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and anti-grumpy, feel-good properties. Who can be grumpy while eating warm cinnamon raisin bread or piping hot chili? That’s gotta’ be worth something.


4. Grains, grains, and more grains. I keep quinoa and/or millet since they cook faster, brown rice because it’s versatile, and wheat berries & oats because…. uh… because they’re just my favorite, really. I usually buy these from my grocery store’s bulk bins, but sometimes I find great deals (especially on quinoa) on Amazon.


5. Onions/Potatoes/Squash. One bag of yellow onions, white potatoes, or sweet potatoes usually hides somewhere in my pantry. You may also find a squash or two if you’re lucky.

I used to buy onions as-needed, but I go through sooooo many of these! Plus, you can buy an entire bag of potatoes for the same price of two lose ones. Just sayin’. Don’t fear white potatoes; they have a ton of potassium… perhaps to balance out all that sodium in your canned beans n’ soup.


  • What are some of your pantry staples?

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35 Responses to Healthy on a Budget: Pantry Staples

  1. i will not fear white potatoes!

  2. Stacey says:

    Very helpful post, I need specifics!

  3. I put chili powder in everything. Also, I splurged (if you will) on chipotle seasoning- just a little goes a long way!

    Plus, I believe in having a can or two of soup as back up. Always. It’s quick, easy, and works when you just aren’t feeling whatever is planned.

    • Tiff says:

      Must find me some chipotle seasoning! Lately I’ve been throwing cayenne pepper on/in lots of stuff. I finally bought a less cheap (aka: crappy) brand of it, and I finally realized how hot it really is.

  4. You know, I’m slightly frightened of the information I read about BPA in canned goods, however, I still load up on them constantly! I have beans, tomatoes, pumpkin, and so much more. I also love to keep bulk spices and grains in the panty.

    • Tiff says:

      I know what you mean. I should probably be more worried about it, but I always keep it at the back of my mind. Whoopsies! πŸ˜‰

  5. Love this post! Grains and beans are definitely the best cheap pantry staples. I also loooove spices!

  6. My pantry staples are pretty much the same as yours but with the addition of cereal. Loooots and lots of cereal πŸ˜€

    • Tiff says:

      The hubby is the cereal monster at my house. Lately he’s been loading up on Joes O’s like they’re going outta’ style.

  7. I don’t have too many pantry staples- instead I have a lot of freezer staples- like frozen fruit, frozen veggies, and a loaf of whole wheat bread.

  8. Hooray for not fearing the white potatoes – sometimes people get so paranoid, hey? I keep pretty much all the same stuff & stock up during sales. Frozen fruit (when its not in season) helps too. πŸ˜€

  9. I need to make beans a staple — and easy way to add protein without having to take a lot of time!

  10. I LOVE beans…of any kind! I definitely need to make them a staple in my pantry!

  11. Nichole says:

    I love a look at the pantry. Same staples on my end, I am really enjoying cous cous lately for some reason.

  12. Oats, PB, TJ’s lentil soups, pasta, spices, olive oil…much of the same!

  13. Beans for sure! Just made a bean heavy chili last week. They are filling and inexpensive πŸ™‚

  14. I am such a 10 year old. I can’t read “beans” with out singing the musical fruit song. LOL!

    I have a lot of freezer staples – bean’s I’ve pre-cooked, homemade veggie burgers, Ezekial bread, protein muffins, etc.

  15. beans and rice are def staples in our house.. πŸ™‚

  16. Katie says:

    Beans and frozen veggies can make a great meal in a pinch! You’re right about the sodium contents, so I always rinse my beans when I cook them.

  17. Elle says:

    EVOO and other oils, a variety of vinegars, spices, herbs, quinoa, chia, milled flax seeds, a variety of nut flours and butter. Whew!

  18. Great list! I would have never thought to buy quinoa from Amazon! My staples include a good olive oil (or two), brown rice/couscous and frozen veggies.

  19. I’ve only made quinoa once and was quite intimidated with the washing part… But I want to give it another go! I never thought to load up on these things in the bulk section and just put them in jars. Great visuals.

    My biggies in the pantry are pasta, canned tomatoes, and black beans. But I have plenty of others, too. My spice cabinet is overstuffed and I know it’s time to clean it out.

    I’m lovin’ the series already. Thank you!

  20. Some of the stuff I always have are: rice, chicken broth, cheese, frozen veggies and spices!

  21. What about peanut butter? πŸ™‚

  22. I love snooping in people’s pantrys!
    We have much the same as you- lots of beans, some organic and some not, some canned and some not. And canned soup is always in our pantry, too. It’s so easy to take for lunch on a cold day when you’re too lazy to make a healthy salad or something!
    We also always have PB, almond butter, and Nibs and Twizzlers!

  23. GREAT staples! Canned/frozen things have saved us plenty of times and can work out really well in things like a stir-fry with some rice.

  24. bagged beans for sure! they are SO much cheaper than canned!! frozen veggies are staples for me too!

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  26. Ttrockwood says:

    A freezer staples and fridge staples column would be great too!
    Whole foods 365 organic has great sales on bpa free canned beans, and trader joes has awesome soups in a box/tetra pack.
    My best tip is buying bulk bins spices at a health foods store- i only paid 70cents for a ton of curry powder the other day!

    Omg, no nut butters? They must be in the fridge?

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