Today I thought I’d share with you 10 items I try to always keep well stocked in my pantry. I also thought I’d share the prices I tend to stock them at and the best time(s) of year to buy them at.
Item #1: Peanut Butter
I try to stock up at $1 or less. A best bet is to watch Fred Meyer, who will occasionally put their brand at $1 with in-store coupon. The fall is a great time of year to watch for peanut butter sales (around back to school time). The cheapest I’ve ever purchased peanut butter was $0.15 each after Register Reward at Walgreens.
Item #2: Breadcrumbs
I buy these in bulk at WinCo foods. I’m forgetting the price at the moment, but suffice it to say I can generally buy a big bag for less than $2! I use these to bread chicken parmasan and also for meatballs and meatloaf. Much cheaper than buying the smaller tubs.
Item #3: Breakfast Grains
I far prefer to stock up on old fashioned oats than instant because I can stretch my family’s dollar further! I’ve also enjoyed trying steel cut oats and 7-grain hot cereals too. These are super healthy for you and many meals can be made from them! The best time to watch for Quaker sales is January (National Oatmeal month) and also fall (September and October). I try to stock up on the big tubs for $1 or less (in January). In the absence of sales, WinCo is usually fantastic. Their bulk old fashioned oats are around $0.65/lb. I just use my Quaker tubs and refill them with the bulk.
Item #4: Breakfast Cereals
Breakfast cereals are always a favorite in my house. We eat them for snacks or dessert as well as breakfast around here. Sometimes I will crush cereals, like Honey Nut Cheerios, and use to make a crust for chicken. I try to stock up on cereal when it’s $1 or less. Cereal seems to go on sale every few weeks. If you are not brand particular, you will never have an issue finding great deals on cereal.
Item #5: Canned Beans
Canned beans are so versatile! You can use them in soups, stews, and casseroles. I like using them in Mexican-inspired dishes and chilis. My stock up price is $0.50 per can. The holidays through early spring are a good time to watch for canned bean sales. Fred Meyer periodically will put their brand of canned beans on sale for $0.50 with in-ad coupon, too.
Item #6: Pastas and Pasta Sauces
Pasta and pasta sauces can be used in many different recipes. These are great items to have on hand for those nights that you want to keep dinner simple. Pasta seems to be on sale an awful LOT at the grocery stores. I try to spend no more than $0.50 a box for pasta. For pasta sauce, I try to keep it $1 or less for jars.
Item #7: Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes are another great staple. Use them to make homemade tomato bisque, chili, and spaghetti sauce. I try to stock up at $0.50/can. Around the holidays (such as November) is a great time to look for canned tomato deals. The Del Monte cans pictured above were purchased last November at QFC for about $0.25/can! (See why store sales cycles matter?) Fred Meyer is another good store to watch. They will sometimes put their brand of canned tomatoes on sale for $0.50 each with in-ad coupon.
Item 8: Spices
Spices are a low-cost, healthful way to flavor your meals! While you can sometimes find deals on spices around the holidays (when 50% off and buy one, get one free sales abound), I think your best bet is to buy in bulk. I pay mere pennies for my spices at WinCo! Of course, you could try your hand at growing your own, too.
Item #9: Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
Chicken is one of those foods that can be cooked a zillion different ways: shredded in enchiladas or in sandwiches, cubed in salads, stir fried, broiled, or barbecued. I like to get my chicken from Zaycon Foods and buy 40 lbs at a time and then freeze. I paid $1.76/lb for the last shipment, but it’s been as low as $1.49/lb in the past. (Read my post on Zaycon Foods for more information.)
Item #10: Hot Beverages
I like about one cup of coffee a day, but I also have taken to green tea. I also like to keep cocoa on hand for guests. I try to stock up on cocoa at $1 a box or less, but really try to pay $0.50/box if I can swing it! Around the holidays and winter months is the best time to watch for cocoa deals. If you’re a tea drinker, you’ll want to pay attention to the winter and early spring months as well. Celestial Seasonings often puts out $1/1 coupons that would pair well with Albertsons double coupons. I’ve gotten tea for $0.50/box this way before. The bagged organic green tea pictured above was purchased at Vitacost with a Groupon. As far as coffee goes, I try to stock up at $4.99 a bag or less. This week, Albertsons has Tully’s for $2.99 after stacked coupons, so that for me is a deal worth going for!
What food items do you like to keep on hand? How do you use them?