Quick way to set up a pantry for scratch cooking.

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Frugal living is living under your means. It is exchanging one expense for another that might create a higher quality of life, not getting rid of all the fun things in life. It is learning the craft of living simply in order to have more of what makes life truly delicious and luxurious.

One way to save a huge amount of your monthly income is to learn to shop and cook differently. I did a Jumpstart Frugal vlog recently about extreme ways to start living under your means. This goes with it perfectly.

I love working from cookbooks that help you build your pantry and show you how to make everything under the sun from simple ingredients. A few of those books would be Dining On A Dime by Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam, Make-a-Mix Cookery by Karine Eliason, and Dump Dinners and Dump Deserts by Cathy Mitchell.

After reading and working from these books I have made a list of absolute must-haves to stock a proper pantry that will provide you with all the basics for scratch cooking.

  • 25 lbs to 50 lbs of All-Purpose flour
  • 25 lbs of wheat flour
  • 50 lbs of pinto beans
  • 25 lbs of rice (white or brown)
  • 20 bags of assorted pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, egg noodles, bow tie)
  • 50 lbs of potatoes (Idaho are the cheapest)
  • 20 lbs of onions (we prefer red onions)
  • Large box or bag of powdered milk
  • 20 large bags of frozen and mixed vegetables
  • 25 lb bag of oats
  • Huge jars of peanut butter
  • 10 cans of water-packed tuna
  • 10 lb bag of sugar
  • 8 large cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 or 2 lbs of raisins
  • 20 lb bag of coffee (of course)
  • A large container of powdered creamer

Seasonings: I get most of my seasonings from the bulk section of WinCo.

  • A gallon of oil (try for a healthy one)
  • 2 or more lbs of salt
  • 1/2 lb of granulated onion powder (I prefer the flavor much more than powdered)
  • 1/2 lb of granulated garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup of Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Thyme
  • 1/2 cup Basil
  • 1/2 cup Parsely
  • 1/2 cup rosemary

Extra bulk seasonings to make scratch dishes:

  • 1 lb or more of cheese powder mix
  • 1 lb of peanut butter powder
  • 1/2 cup chicken flavor powder

With these foods, you can make all your own crackers, cakes, bread, tortillas, mac and cheese, burritos, fried potatoes, and onions, casseroles, mashed potatoes, bean dishes and soups, hot cereals, and more than I have the patience to list at this time (wanting to talk a walk with the boys).

This is just a big and quick pantry starter list but if you add to it each month with extra money from your grocery envelope you will have nutritious and filling meals that taste delicious and down-home.

Once I set up this in my pantry I started adding:

  • Big bags of corn tortillas for homemade chips and tacos.
  • Large boxes of Krustez cornbreads and pancake mixes. I love these as they only require water and at the end of the month, you don’t always have the oil, eggs or milk to add.
  • Sales on canned chilis, beans (kidney, cannelloni, garbanzo) and vegetables.
  • Anything that the family likes, is on sale and can be added to stretch a meal.


  • Bananas are always cheap.
  • Any produce in season.
  • Large bags of carrots
  • Celery
  • Fruits and vegetables in large bags as opposed to separate. For example; separate oranges are for more cost than a 10 lb bag.

My final advice is to get the above-mentioned books as they will teach you scratch cooking. Try to find them used on Amazon or book sellers.

My final, final but most important advice is to take out that useless lawn and grow a kitchen garden. Plant any fruit and nut trees that grow in your area and grow your own herbs. This is free organic food! Then learn to can.

You can find U Pick farms and fruit trees in your neighborhood that people just ignore and let the fruit fall and rot.

Some people go to food banks at the end of the day or month to ask for what they are about to throw out. This way you are not taking from anyone in need but saving food from the garbage. You can preserve and dehydrate the food quickly before it truly goes bad.

If you need to save money, get out of debt or learn to live under your paycheck…you can use your creative powers and become very industrious about foraging food in and out of the city.

But always, always have fun! Make it into a game and learn the craft.




7 thoughts on “Quick way to set up a pantry for scratch cooking.

  1. Hello Kate,
    I enjoyed your book on frugal living. My lifestyle is very different, but I can relate to wanting time to enjoy life despite watching pennies. Although there was an initial up front cost, I found a robotic vacuum cleaner to be a huge time saver; I get other household chores done while it is cleaning. There are a lot of them on the market now for different price points.
    Take care,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Kate!!!
    Thank you so much for writing it all out here on your blog, it makes it easier for me to print this page and I can keep it in my purse. I will be doing this and I have cleaned out a lot of the junk foods!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Kate,Love keeping up with you and your family.  You have great ideas on living a good life.  Saving money is an important part of having a stress free life.  But the goal should not be buying the cheapest food you can find.  Coming from a medical background I know that most of our food is contaminated with glyphosate ( in round up ) which is known to cause cancer.  It makes holes in the intestines leading to leaky gut and food allergies and auto immune diseases.  So spending a little extra on non GMO and organic foods is a thrifty way to avoid medical bills in the future-not to mention the misery of disease. Water filtration is also a must.  The best is a Birkey Filter.  It may cost a few hundred dollars but provides a gallon of pure water for pennies.  Don’t drink unknown water from plastic jugs.  I see nothing wrong with a homemaker getting a little part time job to provide extra income to buy better quality food.  A comment on vegetarian diets- they are lacking in vitamins, especially B12 and folate.  So if you don’t eat meat, supplement with a good multivitamin with minerals.  Vitamin D3 will boost your immune system.I was born thrifty, but not everyone is.  It’s a learning curve.  Keep those videos coming!  Liz Hood


    1. Wonderful advice and feedback. I have a Berkey and promote it often. I agree and in a video I made I talk about the health issues that arise from just “filling bellies”. I agree that organic…at least striving for non GMOs is a big thing. I just made the list and people have to choose if they can or will afford the organics. Some are too strapped to make that choice completely but I think that Non GMO’s are easier and cheaper these days. 💖😊☕


  4. I grew up in a very frugal, debt free home, so did my husband. We are both deeply grateful for that. I make a lot of the same dinners as we ate as children, combining our two cultures (english and norwegian) and making my own twists to the various dishes. Pam

    Liked by 1 person

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