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As we start entering the cooler months in the Midwest and as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, you may find yourself looking for ways to limit the number of trips to the store—for grocery pickup or in-store shopping. While you’ll still have to leave your house for milk, eggs and other produce, stocking a non-perishable pantry can help you make fewer trips to the store.

We know what you’re thinking, “how much does it cost to stock a pantry?” The answer depends on your families eating preferences, but we’ve rounded up some of our favorite tips for stocking a kitchen pantry.

How to stock a pantry on a budget

  • Empty it out. Seems odd, right? Why should I take everything out of my pantry when I’m trying to stock it? So you can take an inventory of what you already have, get rid of anything that’s expired and donate anything that you bought on a whim but have no plans to make.
  • Start with the basics. Now that you have an inventory of what’s all in your pantry, you can make a list to stock the bare necessities. This includes pasta, rice, whole grains, dried and canned beans, spices, canned soup, vegetables and meat, crackers, cooking oil, spices, nuts and baking supplies. For a full list of what to get for your pantry, fridge, freezer and the rest of the house, check out this blog post.
  • Stock up on feel better foods. It is cold and flu season, on top of a pandemic, so be sure to have plenty of broth, shelf-stable orange juice, applesauce, saltine crackers, canned and boxed soup, rice and honey.
  • Next up, shop by favorite recipes. Tacos? Stir fry? Tater tot casserole? Make a list of your family’s go-to dinners and buy accordingly. These are ingredients you know will be put to good use!
  • Finally, fill it with family favorites. Just like every family is unique, so too, is every family’s pantry. Maybe you’re the pancakes every Saturday morning type, or you’ve got snack monsters running around your house, be sure to fill your pantry with things your family will use like pancake mix, nut or seed butter, oatmeal, granola bars, mac and cheese, etc.

If that seems a little overwhelming or like costs could add up quickly, take a step back and a deep breath. Take it slow and try tackling one item on the list above each week. Add a few basics or feel better foods to your weekly shopping list and you’ll have your pantry stocked in no time!


Looking for other ways to give your budget a boost? Check out our tips for creating a budget or building your savings.