10 Food Stockpile Items I Always Keep on Hand

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?


  1. KN says

    In addition to the canned beans and tomatoes.

    Tuna cans: Great for salads and sandwiches. Fred Meyer has Chicken of the Sea Chunk Light Tuna (on water or oil) on sale for $0.50 with in-ad coupon every few weeks and $.34 (3 for $1) every few months. A great stock up price.

    Note: FM has the 3 for $1 offer right now.

  2. says

    I keep tuna and soup stockpiled, perfect for a quick lunch! I also like to stockpile condiments…it seems without fail that no one mentions we’re almost out of mayonaise and I don’t have it in the pantry. Now that I understand (sort of) couponing and stock piling, I should never have to make an emergancy trip to the store again!

  3. says

    I also like to keep those powered soup kits (Bear Creek is the name brand I think) in case the power goes out. With those bags of soup I just add water & can cook it on my gas stove….even when the power goes out! Nothing like hot soup when you’re cold & have no power. :)

  4. Holly says

    I try to keep dry beans instead of canned. It saves me room in my pantry. I also keep powdered milk on hand in case of emergency. I rotate it out by making homemade hot cocoa mix, chai tea mix, and mocha mix that I can give away as gifts it cool jars from goodwill and garage sales. And, yes tuna is always in there too.

    • Jayme Logan says

      I agree powdered milk is so useful for saving money (when you can find it at a good price). You can use it to make homemade pankcake mix and a ton of other things.

      • Holly says

        My daughter in lactose intolerant so we always have several containers of rice milk on hand. If for some reason we can’t rotate out our stock quickly enough, we take the extra to our local food bank. It’s only a few blocks from our house. I also like to make a double batch of laundry soap and take some there too. We never let anything go to waste or an opportunity to bless someone else :)

    • jolene says

      I use dry beans too but I cook them up in the crock pot then freeze them. When I need them they defrost pretty quickly. Some times I drop them in soup still frozen.

  5. April says

    I stock up on pastas, cereals, oatmeal, canned tomatoes (I make my own sauces), cake mixes (there’s always an occasion for cakes!), tea bags, paper towels, and toilet paper.

    I wish I had more room to stockpile!

  6. Patti says

    Good info. Thanks! I will add I stock up on salsa and soft flour tortillas. Prefer Newman’s brand salsa, but will go for others if price is right. Stock up when price is $1.00 or less. Same for the tortillas, stock up and freeze them (had really good luck with this) when a$1.00 or less for the medium to large size.

  7. says

    I stock up on almost the same things you do, and also jello and canned fruit to make individual fruit cups for lunches; juice, soy sauce, water and snacks, unfortunately. My snack department is never empty.

  8. Julie says

    Great list.
    I’d add flour, sugar, and baking powder. With those I can make pancakes, waffles, or muffins for breakfasts, cookies for snacks, and all kinds of quick desserts for unexpected company.

  9. Jaimie F. says

    This is the post of a lifetime for me! Thanks for sharing!! And I love seeing other’s lists too!! My addition is cocoa powder at WinCo. We make hot chocolate with milk from scratch…..it’s a winter favorite (and sometimes summer too, here in WA). :) Thanks for the fabulous ideas!!

  10. says

    I try to keep cake/brownie mix on hand. You’ll never know when you need it. My nieghbor forgot her son’s birthday because she had been working double shifts. She came over to my home out of sheer panic and we made him a nice little birthday cake.

  11. Tricia says

    Salad dressing – we eat a ton of salad, so whenever they go on sale at around $1 or so, I stock up on a variety of “flavors”.

    Chicken stock is another staple here – goes into lots of different recipes! I try to stock up around the holidays, as it seems to go on sale pretty cheap then.

    Wanted to add that outside of coupon/sale combos, I’ve found that the 10 lb. box of Quaker old-fashioned oats at Costco is actually cheaper than the Winco bulk bins. Winco is still lower for the quick oats, but they upped their price on the old fashioned oats in the last year.

  12. Jennifer A. says

    I always have rice in my pantry. I have a great rice cooker so I can cook up rice for a side dish or for a casserole ingredient. I also always have chicken and hamburger on hand. Great for tacos, chile, or casseroles.

  13. Kyliee says

    Mine are mostly the same, with mayo and tuna on there… I also keep a few cream soups (mushroom, chicken)… and ground turkey… oh, and mac & cheese and hot dogs, lol… for lazy day picky toddler lunches!

    as far as chicken… any idea if the 97c/pound for split breasts is as good as the Zaycon price? I’m wondering, since of course the bone and skin add weight :)

  14. Jennifer says

    Thanks for this post! I am soaking up all this great info and food ideas for preparing as well, I have the cereal, condiments and personal care items down! :) I can seem to never pay for toothpaste or toothbrushes and the rest around $1. Thank you so much!

  15. kay says

    we stock up on laundry soap & toilet paper. Chicken breast and drumsticks, as they freeze well. pasta, canned tomatoes, juice, salad dressing, my favorite cereal, & snacks. I agree winco has good low prices on their bulk, I get my spices there.

  16. says

    I have been building a stockpile for the last year and have to say there is no place better to start than Winco Foods. With there great pricing and bulk items, and they take coupons as well. The items I mostly have are canned goods, cases of water, sauces, pastas, noodles, ramen, spices, condiments, boxed goods and more. I am working on emergency items like bandages etc. I think everyone should think this way. We could even network and trade so that we all have what we need.

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