You have finished another long day at work and are ready to sit back and relax.
But you’re hungry and the last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stove and prepare dinner.
We’ve all been through this. Saving money doesn’t mean becoming a superman who can ignore the stresses of the day to create an inexpensive three-course meal.
When you save money on groceries, you have to work smarter, not harder. And that starts with always having some basic pantry supplies on hand so you can conjure up delicious meals with minimal effort (and thinking).
Budget Cook’s 9 kitchen utensils
If you’re trying to eat out less and store your cupboards cheaply, then resort to these essential pantries to make inexpensive meals quick and easy.
1. Whole grains and bread
- Andean millet
Quinoa and rice are standard staples for taco bowls, curries, and fried rice. What you may not realize is that oatmeal is just as versatile. In addition to overnight oats and oatcakes, you can make a tasty breakfast bowl by adding some cheese and an egg.
Throw something between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich, or add some cheese in a tortilla and call it a quesadilla. These jars are a tasty way to mix up the delivery of leftovers to your mouth.
To reduce Food waste for the win!
You don’t necessarily need these special noodles, but one long and one short noodle will do all of the things you need noodles for.
Say that quickly 10 times.
Your short noodle can make mac and cheese or a large pasta primavera with leftover veggies. Long noodles are made for a good sauce like alfredo, pesto or marinara.
3. Beans and legumes
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
Beans and legumes costs a fraction of the meat priceThis makes them an affordable way to add protein to soups, chilies, and tacos. Roasted chickpeas are a healthy salad topper, while lentils are great for a fantastic curry.
You can buy these cans, but buying dry is even cheaper. Bonus: you can keep them in decorative jars and friends will think you know what you’re doing in the kitchen.
- All-purpose flour
- White sugar
All-purpose or whole wheat flour isn’t just important for cakes and bread. You can use it to make your own pancake mix, cookies, or even fresh egg noodles. Flour is also used as a thickener in homemade sauces.
A little sugar can make a delicious sweet and savory sauce or quick fruit in the microwave crispy.
Sugar shouldn’t be a staple in your diet, but it is essential in your kitchen. You are likely to use less sugar making your candies at home rather than buying them from the store.
5. Nuts and seeds
- Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Basic nuts and seeds serve a dual purpose: they are a great snack in themselves, and they add a nice crispy texture to salads, oatmeal, and baked goods.
They are also extremely healthy. Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients – just 1 ounce contains 7 grams of protein. Nuts also contain a hefty dose of healthy fats and nutrients. So skip the chips and have those tiny gems ready.
6. Oil and vinegar
- olive oil
- sesame oil
- White wine vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar
With this classic combination you can prepare fantastic marinades and salad dressings. Apple cider vinegar makes a delicious vinaigrette; Add sesame oil to peanut butter and soy sauce to create your own peanut sauce.
If you want to expand your oil and vinegar inventory, balsamic and rice vinegars add tons of options to your pantry arsenal.
7. Spices and sauces
- Dijon mustard
- soy sauce
- Hot sauce
- peanut butter
Much like oil and vinegar, spices and sauces give new life to mild meat and vegetables. Mix Dijon with a little oil and vinegar for a salad dressing. I’ve found that a little hot sauce corrects any recipe errors.
Peanut butter toast is a great snack – and we surprisingly found that there are many Household use for it, also.
If you already have a lot of spices to work with, don’t let them die in your fridge. There are different possibilities Use them well.
8. Herbs and Flavors
- Italian spice
- Crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper are a matter of course. However, buying pre-chopped garlic saves time – and allows you to add fresh garlic to everything. Cumin is a staple in Mexican dishes.
Italian spice is a frugal hack of life. It contains all the spices you want in the proportions you want without having to buy seven different bottles.
And shredded red pepper is easy to have on hand as you can always fill your container with the packets that come with your pizza.
9. Scanned goods
- Pasta sauce
- Coconut milk
- Broth or bouillon
Coconut milk, broth and tomatoes are essential ingredients for many soups, chilies and curries. You can also cook rice and quinoa in broth or coconut milk to add some flavor.
It’s always nice to have a fancy pasta sauce on hand when you don’t have time to make your own – even if it’s really easy.
And if you are on one Pantry challenge By eating what is on hand before purchasing additional groceries, you can create some delicious meals with plenty of canned food.
Jen Smith is a former employee of The Penny Hoarder.
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com