Not every meal has to be a gourmet dining experience. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than the old classics – or even simple meals thrown together from a few pantry staples. And that’s where having a well-rounded stock of frugal food items comes in handy.
Here are the best thrifty items to keep in your kitchen cupboard.
Oats are a fantastic staple to keep in the house. You can find store brand oats for ridiculously low prices, and they taste great with a little honey or cinnamon sprinkled on top. Not to mention they are a great source of protein, so they will keep you filled up all morning. My kids love eating oats with a little brown sugar mixed in.
Rice is an extremely versatile food, making it perfect to keep in the house for those times you need something a little extra to beef up your lunches and dinners. Like oats, you can find rice in the grocery store at a very frugal price. And the serving options are endless – think casseroles, stir fries, omelettes, Mexican dishes… The list goes on!
Onions are a great way to add more flavor to any meal. Simply peel, chop up and add to a dish whenever it needs that little extra ‘something’. You can use them to help flavor stocks for soup, in spaghetti bolognese, or in quiches.
Bananas are a very economical fruit that can be eaten in a variety of ways. Keep them on the kitchen bench for easy, travel-friendly snacks, or use them in smoothies or mix in with your breakfast oats!
Cans of diced tomatoes
Diced tomatoes are useful for many different recipes. They’re great in pasta sauces, or can liven up many different crockpot meals with their lovely tomato flavor. Try them in a beef casserole.
Lentils are a great vegetarian substitute when you can’t afford meat in your grocery order that week. Try using dried lentils in soups and stews for a good protein source and to thicken up the consistency. You can also serve lentils alongside leftover roasted vegetables for a balanced lunch.
Eggs can be eaten as a complete meal by themselves, or added to a multitude of dishes. That’s why they are so good to keep in the house. If you love eggs in the morning, you’ll never run out of options – try them scrambled, in an omelette, or soft boiled eggs served with bread soldiers (my kids love that one!). Plus, eggs are used in frittatas, quiches, spreading over puffed pastry and for baking cakes.
Cans of tuna
Cans of tuna are cheap and full of nutritional goodness. They’re a great option for lunchtime on sandwiches or in a salad. They’re even better at dinner in a warming tuna casserole or pasta. Yum!
Always keep salt and pepper, garlic powder, curry powder and chili powder in your pantry. Adding spices to dishes is the simplest (and cheapest) way to make full, flavorsome meals – even if you don’t have many ingredients on hand.
Beans are perfect for filling out meals and giving dishes a little more ‘oomph’, and are a must for lovers of Mexican cuisine. You can use black beans in chili, burritos, tacos, stews, salads, enchiladas, dips… The list goes on!