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11 Tips for Stocking Your Pantry on a Budget

Well-stocked pantry, here we come! Browse our top secrets to scoring pantry staples on a budget.

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A large selection of bulk dry foods in clever dispensers and a weighing scale at an upscale grocery storeShutterstock / James Mattil

Browse the Bulk Bins

Items like rice, whole grains, pasta and dried beans are all pantry must-haves that you can be buying in bulk to cut costs. Since you pay by the pound, it’s especially good for rarer ingredients that you don’t need a whole box of, like coconut flour or hemp seeds. Here’s a collection of clever ways to store your bulk purchases.

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manufacture date and expiry date printed on the bottom of aluminum cans on blue cement table backgroundShutterstock / andy0man

Pay Attention to Expiration Dates

A pantry’s primary purpose is to store food that will last. So checking for expiration dates that are further out is key.

Pro Tip: Look at the back of the shelf in the grocery store. That’s usually where they stock products that expire furthest in the future. Next, check out these genius tips for building a pantry.

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Cans of pumpkin puree lined up on the shelf from 365, the low cost brand of Whole Foods Market.Shutterstock / EQRoy

Shop After-Season Sales

The best time to buy canned pumpkin? Right after Thanksgiving. The same logic applies to other seasonal pantry items, too. Immediately after a big holiday (Christmas, Halloween or even Labor Day, for example), stores try to get rid of their excess inventory by majorly marking down certain products.

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Young women shopping together in the supermarket with people in the backgroundShutterstock / Tyler Olson

Phone a Friend

If you have a small household or things tend to sit in your pantry for months (and even years), you might be worried about buying items in bulk and not using them before they expire. The solution? Split bulk purchases with a friend—you’ll both pay less per pound on your purchase and take home what you can actually eat. Find out the best way to organize your pantry here.

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Coupons background. All coupons for Canadian store, they are issued by manufacturers of consumer packaged goods Canada.Shutterstock / Icatnews

Double Up on Coupons

Coupon stacking is a thing… and it’s saving shoppers a lot of money at checkout. If your grocery store allows it, use manufacturer or store coupons on top of the store’s weekly sales to knock down the price even further. Keep an eye on weekly ads and coupons so you know what all the deals are.

New to couponing? Learn how to tons of money.

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Grocery store shelf with boxes of Great Value generic flavored instant Oatmeal packages.Shutterstock / Sheila Fitzgerald

Forget Brand Names

In my opinion, when it comes to pantry basics like boxed mac and cheese or canned corn, you can rarely tell the difference between the expensive name-brand version and the cheaper store brand. For store brands that are even more budget-friendly, check out stores like Aldi or Trader Joe’s. These are our best kitchen cabinet and pantry storage ideas.

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Creamy swirls of peanut butter on freshly baked italian bread with knife and crumpled parchment paper over rustic wood cutting board. Shutterstock / Marie C Fields

DIY Canned Goods

Premade nut butters and canned chickpeas are convenient—but more convenience = higher costs. Save money by making your own pantry staples at home. Buy bulk almonds to puree into almond butter, for example, or opt for dried beans and peas over their canned counterparts.

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Market food shop in Grand Central Manhattan NYCShutterstock / Andriy Blokhin

Shop at Ethnic Grocery Stores

Spices tend to be some of the biggest budget-busters. Skip the costly containers at your regular grocery store and instead head to the local ethnic grocery store. Asian, Indian or Mexican food stores often sell spices in bulk for a cheaper per-unit price.

Check out all 10 things you should be buying at your local Mexican grocery store.

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Wegmans grocery store facade and sign with people and Christmas wreath decorationsShutterstock / Andriy Blokhin

Become a Member

If you shop at the same store week after week, join their membership program to reap some major rewards. Members at stores like Wegmans, Publix or Harris Teeter are privy to special discounts, deals and coupons. Bonus: There are often incentives when you first sign up, too, including free items or a store gift card.

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Canned Food On Supermarket Stand.Shutterstock / Radu Bercan

Stock Up During Weekly Sales

Black beans are on sale this week—but you already have a bag in the pantry. That’s okay! If you eat a lot of something, then buy a lot of it when it’s super cheap. Just check the expiration dates and stash it away for later.

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Sideways shot of pretty young female customer holds canned goods in glass containerShutterstock / Sementsova Lesia

Stick to What You Love

Just because you have a great coupon or some frugal living blogger said you should always have quinoa in your pantry doesn’t mean that’s true for you. Keep your pantry stocked with the products you use and brands you trust, and you’ll never end up throwing things away.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home