Foot pantry staples

Top 10 Frugal Pantry Staples To Save Money on food

Sharing is caring!

Top 10 Frugal Pantry Staples to save money on food every month

Food spending is the most essential category in everyone’s monthly budget. In the US, however, it is one of the highest spent line items in the household budget. If you are living in urban areas, you spend more on not just the basic grocery but also on eating out. How do we save money on food then?

Disclaimer- This article shares general health and wellbeing tips. Some links are affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read our detailed Disclaimers Policy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, we spend more than $7900 on food nationally.  

The average food price has increased by 2.5% in 2018 and this has certainly increased recently due to the global pandemic. Not many of us busy folks in the family notice this increase in the food prices. But if you fancy looking at data and more research, knock yourself out here.

We are spending more on processed and pre-packaged food, pay more taxes on take-out meals and prepared meals at grocery stores. When are not able to travel to the grocery store, we also spend more money on home delivery of food. Recently, many food delivery companies have increased their spending limit to avail free shipping, unless you take their membership.

If you order more than what’s actually NEEDED for you or your family, you spend more on storing the food for the long term, on pantry space, and refrigeration cost. Most of the time, food gets wasted, if not consumed before it goes bad.

So, when you are working on a tight budget, or just want to cut down your average monthly spending, food expenses deserve more attention than anything else in your budget.


How to save on groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic without losing your sanity


Now, considering the recent pandemic scenario, I admire the objective of the prepper community to have a fully stocked pantry. But I don’t necessarily have the essential skills or the dedicated space to store the food in my tiny city apartment. But, having a well-stocked pantry of essential and nutritious food items is always a great idea, pandemic or not!

Choose a few key grocery items your family always consumes and does not mind eating regularly during the lock-down. If you know these food items, it’s easier to plan your meals for the whole month.

Many of these food items are shelf-stable and can be ordered online on many bulk food stores such as Tropical Traditions from Healthy Traditions whole food coop, Costco, Amazon or Instacart or Hello Fresh.

Save money on groceries without coupons

No, you don’t need to use coupons to save money on these food staples. If you are good at couponing and enjoy doing it, go for it. But since many of the food items listed below are fresh or dry whole food items without unnecessary processing, you can get them at cheaper prices than processed, ready-to-eat food.

I keep a running list of bulk food items in my family binder. These foods are shelf-stable. This list comes in handy during major sale days throughout the year. The biggest deepest discount is on Black Friday- to Cyber Monday. Healthy traditions are perfect as they offer a bulk club membership called Healthy Buyer’s club which is so much cheaper and better than Costco membership. They have one month to a whole year options. If you want to try them out, start with one monthly membership ( preferably during sale days) and get their deepest discount of healthy non-GMO food products- both fresh and shelf-stable products.


A little bit about our diet

I’ve prepared a comprehensive list of 10 frugal food essentials that are easy to purchase and store. Many of these food staples are enough for a large family who follow a wholesome, nutritious, pH balancing alkaline diet. This diet (also known as the pH diet) includes a lot of fresh produce and other fats that are more alkaline in nature and suitable for people following Intermittent Fasting as well as the Keto diet lifestyle.

We do not follow a 100% alkaline diet, but believe in moderation in everything we eat, and stick with 95% plant-based food. I’ll cover the details about our diet later. For now, this article covers the top 10 frugal food essentials that have a good shelf-life and can be stored in a small home pantry and freezer.


TIP to save money on healthy fats- Sign up for Health Buyer’s club.

Healthy Buyer’s Club- A great wholesale club for bulk food shopping. Healthy traditions is perfect as they offer a bulk club membership called Healthy Buyer’s club which is so much cheaper and better than Costco membership. The Healthy Buyer’s Club provides online retail purchasing for all Tropical TraditionsGrass-Fed Traditions, and Household Traditions products. They have one month to a whole year options for their membership. If you want to try them out, start with one monthly membership ( preferably during sale days) and get their deepest discount on healthy non-GMO food products- both fresh and shelf-stable products. Note- A paid membership is NOT required to purchase these retail products.

Check out the current sale on-

Tropical Traditions Pure Coconut Oil

The Glass Jar Pints (16 oz.) is currently on 65% making it  $4.99 each! (Retail $15). Try them out before buying bulk food from this co-op.

Organic coconut oil

This is traditional coconut oil with no chemical processing and tested for the presence of glyphosate.

2. Carbohydrates

3. Protein

  • Tofu- mildly acidic. Moderately consumed once a week
  • Rolled outs by Tropical Traditions
  • Almonds
  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Chia Seeds (as snacks, for smoothies, and also with oatmeal).
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Lentils- Green moong lentils, yellow moong lentils , Red lentils, and beans (can be stored well at room temperature for a year or two). If you do not like these single lentil types, make easy weight-loss soup with these mixed lentils and still get the required protein. I keep this mixed lentil pack for outdoors or overnight trips where I can boil them, use few spices, and have a full meal.

Beans are super-food. On average, they are made up of 21 percent protein, 77 percent complex carbohydrates.

Oats April sale

I buy these in bulk when they go on 50% sale and freeze them in a small freezer we bought for real cheap. They last us for 6 months to a year. Do you know that the groat is the only way to consume oats as whole food?

What is Groat?
Groat is the term used to describe an oat kernel that has the inedible hull removed, but no further processing has been done. Now,l I like the sound of that- ” no further processing”.
Oats are naturally high in protein and have the most complete amino acid profile of any grain. They are also very high in fiber, which will keep you feeling full longer. Read more about it here.


4. Fresh herbs and Spices

  • Cinnamon- whole sticks are better.
  • Black Cumin Seeds for medicinal use
  • Culinary Organic whole Cumin seeds -Powdered will also work but it loses flavor and nutrition if kept open for long. I use a small coffee grinder from Cuisinart for grinding all whole dried spices. Best small kitchen utensil under $30 ever! Mine is running strong in its 10th year. It gets used every few weeks.
  • Curry powder- Also known as Garam Masala. We make homemade from whole dried spices. It is a complex measurement of different dried spices, my sister shared it with me. She and my mom used to make bulk homemade masala for me. It is going to last me full 2 years ( Do not worry. It doesn’t expire if you store it well in a cold dry place in an air-tight jar). Someday, I will write a separate article on it. But if you do not mind using ready-made store-bought organic curry powder, check this out. I have used it in the past and everyone and their grandma approved it!
  • Ginger- Fresh is better. Can be frozen in small chunks and used up to a year. I also use dried powdered ginger as a homemade natural remedy for cough and sinus issues.
  • Organic Mustard Seeds
  • Celtic Sea Salt/ Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Garlic- Fresh is better than dried garlic powder. I keep both on hand always. Fresh ginger is very good for its anti-inflammatory properties. So it is used in the common cold and flu season. Dried garlic powder is used mostly for Pasta meals.
  • Cayenne Pepper by Starwest Botanical. This spice is also used for fighting the common cold, flu, and bloating. If you can handle the heat, cayenne pepper is great for weight loss.
  • Organic Oregano by Frontier Co-op
  • Turmeric powder by Jiva Organics. This is a value pack. It is the best anti-inflammatory spice. We amp up turmeric use in soups, stir fry, and teas during winter when there is cold and flu season. Other times, it is used almost daily in all the meals. It takes some time to build the taste but it is the best defense against common illnesses.
  • Coriander- Fresh and coriander seeds grounded for the spice mix
  • Fresh curry leaves
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Green chilies- Fresh, can be frozen and used up to 3 -4 months.
  • Chili powder
  • Whole black pepper- I use a cheap $2.99 glass grinder from Aldi and refill it with these organic black peppers.
  • Whole organic cloves in bulk
  • Whole Fenugreek or methi seeds- These are excellent for diabetics and also for healthy weight loss. Just soak a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds in the glass full of filtered water overnight. Drain them in the morning and drink this water empty stomach. If you can chew the seeds, it will give additional health benefits. But I can’t eat the seeds. They are too strong for me.

Many of these fresh herbs, you can grow at home in smaller spaces in containers. Julie Brown, a Herb Gardening enthusiast, makes it easy to understand in her super compact and to-the-point eBook- How To Start A Container Garden. My favorite way to make my own organic herbs is by dehydrating the harvest produced in the summer months. I learned the quick and easy way to dehydrate my herbs from Wardee Harmon of Traditional Cooking School.

5. Probiotics

  • Homemade Fermented Kimchi
  • Water kefir (homemade with Raw water kefir grains and Turbinado sugar)
  • Fermented milk kefir
  • Homemade Kombucha
  • Homemade Yogurt
  • Fermented/ pickled vegetables/ sauerkraut

All you need for making homemade probiotics is the starter or kefir grains. You can get an organic whole milk yogurt in a small pack at any grocery store and use it to making homemade yogurt. For homemade kefir and Kombucha, I usually get mine from PosyMom. She sells her starters on Amazon.



Kombucha, Water Kefir grains and Milk kefir grains

Her 3 starter packs of Kombucha, Water Kefir grains, and Milk kefir grains are of excellent value. Check them out here.

6. Produce

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Red Onions
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Swiss chard
  • Cabbage
  • Sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Squash

Most of the produce is seasonally available and can be frozen well for well over a month. We also use other produce. But they do not have a longer shelf life like the ones listed above.

7. Fruits

  • Avocados
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Banana
  • Pear
  • Oranges
  • Kiwis
  • Lemon
  • Grapes
  • Dried figs by Nature Made. We love these. Costco also sells a bigger pack but the last 2 times we bought it, some figs were going bad. So we get Nature Made figs now
  • Dried Organic Pitted Dates. Also called Medjool dates. These are great for snacking and morning breakfast with traditional old oats.
  • Mangoes- both fresh when in season and dried mangoes. Costco has their own Kirkland Signature brand. If you have a Costco membership, get this pack there.
  • Papaya
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon

8. Snacks


9. Flavors

10. Vitamins/ Health supplements

Most of the meals we cook have less than 10 ingredients, focusing more on whole nutrition, seasonally available raw fresh produce.

Can food is one of the easiest ways to save money on food. But, they are not necessarily better for your health.

We don’t really use any can food items, due to aluminum content a known endocrine disruptor. Read more about Environmental Working Group’s peer-reviewed research articles here.

Therefore, you’ll notice I’ve not listed any can foods here.

TIP- always check the food items recommended on EWG’s clean food list.

Amp up your savings doing SPENDING FREEZE

We use this list during our Spending Freeze weeks every couple of months. It’s easier to make whole meals by shopping in our pantry rather than hitting the grocery store every week. Doing spending freeze every few months, helps us save money on everyday food, build and replenish the Emergency Fund faster. Do not have an emergency fund yet?  Check out this article on 15 Easy and Actionable Steps to build the first emergency fund.


Use up what you have first

If you do not have these whole health food staples, I recommend planning for them in the future.

I’m all about saving money on food every single month. Please use up what you already have in your kitchen. Only then, consider planning for some of these shelf-stable food staples. After all, there is no point in buying new food ingredients and wasting any more money or shelf space.

If you do not want to use up our existing food staples, always consider donating the good food staples to your nearest soup kitchen.

Save more by getting these food staples at a warehouse store

You can save more money on food by shopping for the above food staples from Big box or warehouse stores like Costco, BJs, or Sam’s club. You need not have to have a membership to these warehouses if you visit them with your friend or a family or have their cash card which can be used for paying for the items in the store.

We tend to buy the above foods at Tropical Traditions, Costco, Amazon, Botanic Choice, Vita-cost, iHerb, Aldi, and Asian Grocery stores.

In Conclusion,

What food items you store for long-term consumption? Please share your ideas.

This article first published on

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media platforms. It will make my day. Thank you!

This article first published on If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media platforms. It will make my day. Thank you! This article is proofread by Prowriting Aid

Sharing is caring!

Tags: , , , , ,


  1. Pingback: $1000 Money Savings Challenge- Week 1 -

  2. Pingback: 40 Money saving habits for Financial Freedom -

    • Don Brad

    Great list of foods. Many of these food items that we consume already but I never knew that there are frugal and healthier options out there. Thank You

    1. Thanks, Don. There are a lot of options but we do not get to see them in mainstream media and advertising platforms. I am glad you found the article useful.

  3. Pingback: How to Cut Costs at Grocery Store All Year? -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.