How and Why To Keep A Stocked Pantry

Hi Everyone!

When I first started this blog, I wrote a lot about keeping a stocked and well maintained pantry. This is something I have done for what seems like forever. I grew up in a home where money was tight so, my mom always bought just a little extra of some item that was on sale or she had coupons for. Just to build up her pantry. Of course, she learned it from her parents. My grandparents lived during the Depression so, everything was tight and you learned how to pinch those pennies.

I am so glad that I paid attention to all the little things my mom did to save a little here and a little there. Now, don’t get me wrong, we never went without and we, as kids, didn’t have a clue that money was tight. My mom was able to just make things always work out.
The whole concept was, “You never knew when something would happen and you would be forced to live out of your pantry”. Well, that happened to us about 6 years ago. Troy was in a major accident at work. After months in the hospital and 7 surgeries later, the doctors did not expect him to ever walk again.

For about 8 months, we had little to no money coming into our home. What little unemployment benefits I received generally did not cover even the basic bills. So, not one single penny could be used for food. It just wasn’t there.

This was definitely a reinforcing factor regarding keeping a stocked pantry. Because the “disaster” did hit us. We HAD to live off of our pantry. And let me tell you, I learned a lot of valuable lessons regarding a stocked pantry!

A few really important things I learned were:
  1. Can you create a complete healthy meal from your pantry on a regular basis?
  2. Do you actually like what you have stocked?
  3. Do you know how to prepare what you have stocked?
  4. Can you prepare what items you have stocked?
Number 4 was a real eye opener for me. Here I had stocked things like cake mixes (just an example). But, guess what?  When I did buy eggs, it was to be used as a cheap protein not for a cake.  A lot of good those cake mixes were to me then. Since then, I have experimented and learned how to use those cake mixes without eggs.

This was when I really delved into the world of thrifty and frugal living. I researched constantly for sources of information. I knew I had a very good thrifty skill set already but, I had to take it to another level.
Getting creative is vital when it comes to living a frugal life style. Everything is a challenge. And being in this situation, you can easily fall into depression. It is difficult to truly “make do” with what you have. For me, I had to turn things around in my brain and make it kind of like a game. The whole “how low can I go” when it came to money became a life style.

Fortunately, over the past few years, I have restocked my pantry. And I used the lessons learned to stock it wiser.
I think the hardest part of having a good stocked pantry in maintaining it. Rotating your inventory is crucial and the biggest pain as far as I am concerned. A couple of years ago, Troy made us a rotating can fixture. I have seen these in stores but, they are very expensive. So, he made one for our pantry. Which by the way is a storage closet upstairs in our home.

Right now is a great time to reorganize or at least go through your pantry and pull out things that you think to yourself, “Now why did I buy that? We don’t really even like it”. And get all those items together to donate to the food banks. Also check to see what areas you are lacking in.

We all know that we need to stock the basic food groups. So, I won’t go over that. But, here are just a couple little tips on things to stock.
  • Keep cooking oil and or shortening
  • A good variety of spices and herbs (beans or rice can get real boring after awhile if not “flavored up”)
  • Broths and/or Bouillon. I make and freeze a lot of my own stock but, I also keep canned and bouillon at all times. Has anyone ever canned their own stock? I want to give that a try.
  • Seasoning packets
  • Condiments
  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts
  • Canned/boxed and dried milk
  • Honey, jams and syrups
Fruit and Vegetable juice (canned, dried or bottled)

A simple and thrifty way to keep some can goods organized in your pantry is by using the cardboard boxes pop comes in. For a simple and easy how to, check out this post at Then She Made
One of the best tips I can give you is experiment. Teach yourself how to cook from scratch and how to season foods that you make. That way you will know what to stock and what not to stock.
A stocked pantry does not mean stocking up on things that you are told to stock up on for an emergency. It will do you absolutely no good if you don’t like those food and or don’t know how to cook/prepare those foods. They will just sit on a shelf taking up valuable room in your pantry.

Above all, USE your pantry regularly. I know a lot of folks who get all excited that they have this full pantry supply and then don’t want to touch it because it took so much work to get it to this point. They “save” it for that emergency. NO, NO, NO!!! That is not how a stocked pantry works!

I cook from scratch on a daily basis. So, I know what I use and need. Our situation, keeping a stocked pantry is a money saver and was used when we had a financial emergency happen.  Not only to take care of our own families but, maybe help out our neighbors.

I don’t have a basement or any large space to create a pantry. I use a closet. No dried or canned foods stuffed here and there throughout the house. You can use a small space and if kept maintained and stocked smartly, you are good to go! Right now, in this small closet pantry of mine, We  could probably go about 6 months with just a small amount of  food purchasing. Do I want to? No. But, we can.

More to come on this subject. I am reworking my pantry as I write this so, I hope to share more thrifty money saving ideas in this area.

Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful day!


  1. Great post Diann! Bad times hit us all and being prepared is the best strategy for these life crises! I need to learn to rotate my pantry items so I think it's time to clean it our and restock it!

  2. When I stress shop, it is always for food, so there are months that my pantry is stocked indeed!! But you are right, I need a system! I can't wait to read more tips! PS my pantry is a useless 'pantry-ette' that came in the townhouse and a repurposed pie safe.

  3. Fabulous post. I cook from scratch everyday and I definitely love having a stocked pantry. I am terrible at planning meals for a week, I want to have the option to cook whatever I think sounds good on that day, so a stocked pantry is essential.

  4. Hi Diann....I think your stocked pantry idea is fabulous. I have a pantry and keep it kind of stocked, but it sure needs help. What DO you do with cake mixes without eggs? Curious. Hope your day is splendid. Susan

  5. What a great post. We should all stock our pantries. My pantry closet is so small, but you are right, I could use a closet another room. I feel so much better when I am stocked up, just a feeling of security. Joni


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