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How to Stock Your Pantry – The “Emergency Fund” You Can Eat

In this post: Having a pantry full of your staples is one of the best weapons you have for saving money and making sure you’re prepared in case of emergency! Here’s how to stock your pantry in 4 simple steps. 


A pantry full of your family’s most used staples is one of the best ways you can be prepared in case of job loss, emergency or sickness! Here is how you can build a money saving pantry yourself, even if you’re on a restricted diet!

pantry shelves with jars and text overlay to illustrate how to stock the pantry

Why Stock the Pantry?

If you have a stock of all your family’s staples on hand, you know exactly what you have and you know you can make something if you can’t make it to the store. Having a money saving pantry also helps with meal planning and paying full price at the store! 

What Do You Mean “The Emergency Fund You Can Eat”

Years ago, when our kids were quite small, Dean and I didn’t have much money. I kept reading about finances and how we should have an emergency fund. And all I could think of was, we were barely making ends meet, how could we save an emergency fund? Then somewhere (I cannot remember where or find it now) I read about using your pantry and your weekly grocery shopping to build up an emergency fund ‘you could eat’. 

Essentially, I mean, whether you have an actual emergency fund or not, if your pantry is well-stocked, you know you will at least be fed, should someone lose a job, become ill or something that makes it difficult to go to the store. 

Truthfully, the enneagram 6 in me wishes we had one of those basement, prepper-type pantries. You know, with all the rows and rows of necessities all stacked neatly? But for now, my laundry room shelves, basement shelves and kitchen cabinets will do. Oh and of course, our basement freezer too. 

how to stock your pantry pin

How to Stock Your Pantry in 4 Steps

1. Figure out what your family eats often

Make a list of what meals your family makes often. You can even take this a step further and divide it by season!

If your family makes a lot of freezer meals, it might be worth it to stock aluminum foil and baking pans so they’re handy for a meal prep day.

If you make your own breads, sauces, and other goods, look at what spices and other dry ingredients you use. This will help you determine what items you should be buying in bulk as well.

For example, if your family eats a lot of beans then you could save money by purchasing them in bulk since they are cheaper than smaller packages.

For meal planning tips to help you plan ahead, visit our Meal Planning Ideas and Resources page!

2. Stock up when items hit rock bottom prices

It doesn’t matter if you have a little space or a lot. My parents and others I know who are short on storage space stash their extra canned and dry food supplies under beds and tables. 

Monitor sales for about 3-6 weeks and find out what the rock bottom price is for items you buy regularly.

The rule of thumb is that you should stock about 3-6 months worth depending on the item. Although even having two weeks worth of food your family eats in the house is going to be a huge help in case of emergency or any illness that may crop up. Especially in winter. 

By stocking up on items when they are at their rock bottom price, you may never pay full price again!

One of the most versatile canned goods you can stock in your pantry is canned potatoes. Here’s our favorite canned potatoes recipe, plus more ideas for using canned potatoes in your cooking

3. Be aware of seasonal items

Seasonal eating is so good for you in terms of health and finances. It’s also good for your local farmers and the environment. When we’re talking about packaged goods, it’s still great for your health and your pocketbook.

Pumpkin is cheapest during October, peanut butter is cheapest during back to school season, and baking goods are cheapest around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Pay close attention to items you buy that may be seasonal. You can find flour anytime of the year, but it will be cheapest during the cooler months!

Adjust your rock bottom prices to account for items that may be cheapest during seasonal times. You should stock a little more of these items as they will only go on sale during a few months of the year.

4. Stock up on non-food items

Don’t forget about items such as paper plates, paper towels, napkins, and toothpicks! Some of these items are staples in our home and we often don’t think of them when stockpiling the pantry. By buying these items when you have a coupon to match, or during a great sale you can save so much money on items you use throughout your house.

Even if you don’t buy a lot of canned or processed items, you can still build a money saving pantry. Focus on the items your family purchases often, and stock your pantry with those things that will get used.

Before you know it, your grocery bill may even start dropping!

Didn’t stock enough toilet paper for an extended emergency? Here are 10 toilet paper alternatives to use if you run out of toilet paper!

jars in pantry cabinet with text overlay to illustrate stocking the pantry

Do you keep a stocked pantry? What are some staples you always keep on hand?

I'd love it if you'd share:

I'd love to chat with you in the comments!

Comments

  1. Jeanne says

    I love these ideas- especially on days like today when it’s -22 degrees and I’m trying to put meals together without running to the store!

  2. Jeanne says

    Excellent ideas! I love the concept of ‘eatable savings’. I like to keep dried beans stocked. They’re cheap and so versatile- making soup in the crock pot is so easy. I also like to keep Better than Bouillon jars stocked. This makes delicious chicken or beef broth but take up so much less space than the cartons or cans.

  3. Beth says

    Your Pantry is #Goals….So Beautiful! Alas, My husband does most of the cooking (Yay for me!) but he is missing that organizational gene, so unless I follow him around 24/7, my kitchen will never look like this…except for the 2 minutes after I have slaved all day to clean and organize it! Ha! First World Problems, for sure!

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