Staple Foods You Should Always Have On Hand

One of the greatest money savers is cooking at home. You can often prepare tasty, simple foods at home very easily and quickly and with minimal cost; I regularly make meals that take less than ten minutes of preparation time, feed the whole family, and cost only a dollar or two.

Disclaimer: One of my greatest passions (besides personal finance, of course) is cooking. Please, don’t encourage me to start a cooking blog, too, because I just might do it and then my family would never see me.

The biggest problem is that many people do not have a well-stocked kitchen that is geared toward this purpose, so they often end up having to buy a lot of ingredients when they decide to actually try cooking something at home. Not only is it a new and challenging experience, it also seems very expensive because one has to buy so many ingredients.

Now, if you ask me, a well-stocked kitchen should include an incredible amount of staples (and that’s not even a full list of what I’d want on hand – think more herbs and spices). But let’s face it: that’s just not realistic for a lot of people who are just getting started with cooking at home. They want a small investment and the ability to turn out tasty meals without too much concern.

How does this save money? Each time you prepare a meal at home, it is less expensive than eating out. When you have staple foods on hand, it is much easier to prepare a meal at home, and thus you are more likely to prepare something at home than to eat out. $100 is actually a very small investment in your kitchen, since it only takes ten or so meals at home instead of eating out to make up for the cost of the staples.

Here’s my shopping list for bare-bones kitchen essentials. If you have these on hand, you should be well-prepared to produce many dishes, and your food shopping should be reduced to buying perishables, including meats and cheeses and fruits and such. Plus, you’ll discover before long how much tastier home-prepared food is.

Baking powder
Baking soda
Brown sugar (actually useful in many things)
Corn meal
Corn starch
White sugar

Herbs and spices
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper
Tarragon (maybe not essential, but my favorite spice)

Oils, Stocks, Condiments
Beef stock
Chicken stock
Lemon juice
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Red wine
Soy sauce
Tomato paste
Vegetable oil
White wine

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

Loading Disqus Comments ...