pantry staples you should always have!

Pantry Staples that every frugal home needs.

Your pantry should be there to help you especially if you stock it with pantry staples that every frugal home needs. It shouldn’t be there to make you feel overwhelmed or uninspired. It should serve you and your family as a bank of nutritious food. By always having it stocked with these pantry staples you should be able to whip up some easy meal at a drop of a hat!

items to have in you pantry all the time to be organised and frugal
Pantry item every frugal house needs!
Pantry items

Tinned tomatoes – I always have at least 6 tins of tomatoes in my pantry. Easy pasta sauce base and versatile for nearly all stews and casseroles.

Tin beans – (kidney, 4 bean mix, black beans etc). Beans can be used alone as a mince and meat substitute or vegetarian option and a filler to add to mince.

Mushrooms (Tin) – An extra vegetable to add to any pasta or rice dish.

Corn  (Tin) – tin vegetables are great fillers when fresh options are limited.

Tuna (Tin) – a cheap and easy to store protein. Can be served as a dish or alone for a simple lunch with crackers.

Tomato Paste/Passata – while they are not a true substitute for each other they work for each other in a variety of ways and help you make a simple sauce or meal base.

Rice – Rice served as a side with almost any meals can help bulk it up, it is also great to go into soups to add extra bulk.

Pasta – pasta served as a side with almost any meals can help bulk it up, it is also great to go into soups to add extra bulk.

Minced Garlic – minced garlic is a long-time friend of mine, while I still use fresh garlic time to time, the easy and cost of minced garlic is hard to go past. It easily adds an extra flavour.

Jar of pesto – easy meal served with pasta or one crackers.

Flour – easy option to thicken a sauce, a staple for pizza dough and flat breads.

Olive oil – Super versatile use it as a dressing or to cook with.

Basic spices – Easy way to add extra flavour into a basic meal.


Meals you can make with these pantry staples with none or a small amount of fresh ingredient could be –

Pesto pasta, tuna pasta, tomato risotto, Mexican rice, corn fritters, tuna patties, garlic pizza, basic bolognese, tuna and corn pasta.

I always have these in my pantry, and while I try to make from scratch where possible, certain things I find are perfect to have on hand.  For me, pasta and pesto with a sprinkle of cheese is simple comfort food.  Perfect when you don’t feel like cooking or don’t have any time.  Did I miss anything?  I would love to hear what you think is have to have in your pantry!

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How to save on groceries -before you get to the store

Cutting down the cost of your grocery bill does not always just in the supermarket – here are some tips to cut the cost of your grocery bill before you even step into the supermarket!  Implementing a couple of tricks here and there will save you big money at the checkout.  Think about things that your mother and grandmother use to do to stretch meals that little further to help save on groceries.

saving on groceries

Saving money on groceries
  1. Meat Free Monday, it’s not hard to make a filling vegetarian meal once a week.  But the simple sway could see your grocery bill drop by $10 by making it meat-free.  Consider making this a regular thing and enjoy the savings! Meat free pasta is always a hit – like this spinach cannelloni.
  2. Smaller meat portions, by buying in bulk and dividing up your meat into smaller pieces yourself saves you by getting more portions from the same amounts.  Consider buying mince and instead of 500g portions make it 400g portions it stretches it out further and only a small difference to each persons portion.
  3. Cheaper meat cuts.  Embrace the slow cooker and use cheaper cuts of meats to make delicious meals that cost less.
  4. Embracing pasta and rice to stretch meals.  Growing up every meal was served with either pasta or rice – I thought it was normal.  But it was just my mums way of stretching meals for the six of us.  It doesn’t need to be a large serving but a large spoonful of pasta or rice to fill up the troops is a great way of stretching out a meal.
  5. Embracing vegetables – another thing that I thought was normal growing up but it was just one of my mums tricks was grated vegetables.  Grated vegetables in EVERYTHING, grated carrots and zucchini are great because they are cheap.  My favourite vegetable is choko.  A choko doesn’t have much flavour and takes on the flavour of other items in the dish and best of all it’s is whitish/clear colour so not easily detectable!
  6. Growing your own vegetables and fruits.  So many things can now be grown in pots it is easy to have a small vegetable garden anywhere.  Even in an apartment you can grow herbs easily – a great way to save money.
  7. Making your own cleaning products is better for your budget and better for the environment.  A couple of ingredients and an afternoon and you will have enough cleaning product for 6 months.  Check out my pinterest board board for more ideas
  8. Meal Planning & Shopping your pantry a great tip to stay organised and use all ingredients you already have without over shopping Check this out to help out the pantry
  9. Fishing.  In days gone by fishing was a very popular way of supplementing your grocery bill.  It shouldn’t be discounted as a cost effective way even now.

Good Luck saving money before you even go to the shops! If you have any tips or hints you use before you even get to the supermarket please leave it in the comments below!


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how to save money on your grocery bill by saving cash before you leave home
how to save money before you even get to the shops

8 ways to save on groceries

If you come here often – you will notice there is definitely a theme about cost cutting on your groceries and keeping to your budget.  Groceries for me is constantly the area I need to watch – if I am going to go over in our budget chances are it will be in groceries.  So some weeks I pull out every trick I know to keep on track.  So here are some great ways to save on groceries.

8 easy ways to save on groceries - budget mum
8 great ways to save money on groceries

8 tricks to help save on groceries

Here are some tricks that I use almost weekly –

  1. Shop at night or early morning – find out when your local store does markdowns these are very helpful to keeping costs down – especially in the meat department where it can help cut costs drastically.  As an added bonus you won’t get trolley range with other people that have no sense for the world around them.
  2. Know your prices.  Create a price book if you haven’t already so you know what is a good special and what isn’t.  A normal notebook will do with a page for ‘regular’ items you buy consistantly.  Set it up so you know what the special cycle is and when it is a good price or not.  The benefit is knowing and buying a good special when you see it.
  3. Never shop hungry! Just don’t you will end up with a whole snack food stash if you’re not careful!

    shopping meme
  4. Have a list. No brainer but seriously have a list.  I’m not saying stick to it or else but without a list you will start putting things into the trolley with good intentions that go nowhere and you will end up having to either going  back to buy more ingredients or throw out ingredients you didn’t use.  A menu plan will help with a complete shopping list before you leave the house!
  5. Be flexible, have a certain part of your grocery budget to buy specials.  Buying cheap bananas instead of apples will help your budget – knowing what you need (see point 4) but also being able to think on your feet and being flexible.  Roast pork on special instead of roast beef etc will help keep the budget in check.
  6. Have a slush fund.  If your budget for groceries is $150 then try to have $15-$20 for specials.  This way when your price book tells you it’s a good price you can stock up and save buying it full price next week.  It may take you a while to have enough space in your budget to create the slush fund but it is worth perservering. Start with not spending $5 per week of your budget to start building up your slush fund for specials.  For items like washing up detergent and dog food there is never any need to pay full price.
  7. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.  I rotate between Coles, Woolworths and Aldi. I get the catalogues and look what I need/want and go from there.  Some weeks I’ll go to all three is time/money permits to buy specials.  I know that this isn’t possible for everyone but it works for us.
  8. Try generic brands.  Honestly don’t start with the toilet paper! HA. But I bet there are at least a couple of things you wouldn’t even notice that is was generic.  Give a couple of things a go eg – cereal.  If you hate it chances are it was only a couple of dollars, but if you love it – perfect!  I actually prefer a couple of generic items – choc chips $1.55 YES PLEASE!

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What else do you do to help keep you within your grocery budget?

How to save money with menu planning

Being organised is the best way to save with food and groceries, and keeping within your budget.  But being organised also is helped by having a visible menu planner that encompasses all food & snacks needed for the week.  It doesn’t need to be rigid it can be as flexible as you need but it is important that you create the habit of following it to get the best out of your budget, pantry and food.  Food wastage is a huge problem in Australia and so this will also help cut down on food wastage and as always help you save money! So read on to work out how to save money with menu planning.

how to save money on groceries with menu planning
Saving money with menu planning

Saving money with menu planning

  1. Make a list of every one you will need to cater for.
  2. List every meal you need and snacks.
  3. Look through your fridge and freezer for item you need to use.
  4. Shop your pantry first.  See anything that you have that need to be used up.  Check this out to help sort out your pantry
  5. Look through the catalogues and work out what is on special and season – start selecting meals.
  6. On you physical meal plan start filling in meals.  Start with your mains.  Knowing what you are cooking for dinner and then if there is left overs there lunch the next day. Fill in blanks & write grocery list as you plan.
  7. Always double check your pantry, fridge and freezer for food ready to be eaten or ingredients first.

To create flexibility within your meal planner, I always have “can’t be bothered” meals in my freezer.  This could be a frozen pizza or frozen fish and chips.  A meal you don’t need to think about – this is a great back up when things don’t go according to plan or just life.  Having a back up meal in your freezer may be slightly more expensive than your average meal however it could mean the difference between this or takeaway which could really damage your budget.

Budget Mum BlogDo you have any tips on menu planning or staying on track with your grocery budget?  I would love to hear them and hear how you save money with menu planning.


Why it’s OK to order your groceries online.

When online groceries first started to be available – I thought “you would have to be soooo lazy to do that! How hard is it to do the groceries!”  Then my sister explained that she did it – and I re-thought it!  Occasionally I think groceries online is great – it helps stick to a shopping list and it helps when spare time in non existent. Why it’s OK to order your groceries online.

Save money by doing your groceries online.
Save money by doing your groceries online.

While I am not saying that I do my groceries online all the time – I like to shop around and rotate grocery stores. But I have used it when I had little spare time or when I had a budget to stick to.

You still get all special prices

If you collect your groceries you don’t have to pay for delivery.  You still get all the catalogue specials, however some items are charged at premium pricing which is about 7% extra.

Save your time.

Can you put a price on your time?  Sometimes it is great to out and do the groceries,  but sometimes it is too much to fit into life.  You can’t put a price on making more family time that isn’t being stressed at the grocery store.  You make a time to pick them up and that way you don’t need to pay for delivery!


It is so easy to do the groceries online, and they have a favourites list for the items you buy weekly.  And you can shop directly from the catalogue so you don’t miss any specials.

No impulse shopping

No chocolate that accidentally slips into the trolley. (Unless you want it to)  For me this is always the killer, exactly what always happens!  I can not explain how many times this happens – but with doing it online you can see your total as you go.  Easy to remove items and super easy to stay in budget!

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So why do you love online grocery shopping?  I find it’s sooo easy to stay in budget. 

$60 Weekly Grocery Shop

This is my BUDGET $60 WEEKLY GROCERY SHOP and shopping list.  This is the perfect shop for when you are totally skint and just need to make it until the next pay.  I wouldn’t recommend this as a weekly shopping plan but it could be done monthly to get you through.  I have included everything you need to be able to make the suggested meals, but I suggest you “shop your pantry” first to see if you can make any further savings or make these suggestions even tastier.  If you already have some of these ingredients at home – perfect!  I would suggest you buy some extra fruit or meat for lunches or some extra cereal with your extra money.  All of these prices were from Coles Online in Queensland – so in store prices may be cheaper.

$60 budget weekly grocery shopping list & ideas


BUDGET Dinners

  1. Tuna & Corn Pasta (Tin tuna, tin corn with 500 g pasta and white sauce)(White Sauce – milk, flour, margarine & cheese)
  2. Sausages & 500 g Vegetable
  3. Quiche with Ham and Tomato (Make own pastry, Quiche -4 eggs, milk, cheese ham and roma tomato)
  4. Mince Pasta (500 g pasta & mince & pasta sauce, grate cheese on top)
  5. Fried Rice with veg, egg & chicken (500 g rice, soy sauce, 300 g chicken breast, 2 fried eggs & 500 g frozen veg)
  6. Stir fry Chicken & Veg (600 g chicken, 500 g vegetable)
  7. Vegetable fritters (500 g vegetables, 2 eggs, flour and dash milk. Fried in margarine)

BUDGET Lunches

  • Jam Sandwiches
  • Cheese Sandwiches

BUDGET Breakfast

  • Oats
  • Toast


  • Yoghurt
  • Carrot Sticks

4 Eggs left over – either boiled with lunches or with some sugar, vinegar and bi carb soda at home you could make Piklets or Jam Drops

As I said before this is not meant to be “eating plan”  I understand that it carbohydrate heavy.  But if you are feeding a family on a budget this is the kind of eating plan that would help you get through the TIGHTEST of weeks. I would also recommend looking at your butchers and Aldi to see if you can buy cheaper there. I would love to hear from you if you have tried my $60 weekly grocery shop and how it went with your family!

Budget Mum Blog

Good Luck!  What are your go to budget meals?

How being unorganised wastes money

Being unorganised is a hard rut to get out of.  But the problem is that it spills out over all parts of your life and makes it hard to get out of – however if you can keep these main areas organised you will save money month after month.  Which leaves you with more money for the fun stuff! So how does being unorganised wastes money?

How being unorganised wastes money
How being unorganised wastes money

How being unorganised wastes money

  1. Your bill payments – missing your payment schedule is throwing money away.  Often you will get charged for being only a couple of days late.  Creating a bill calendar will help you keep on top of it – setting up a direct deposit is easy and free and you will never forget.
  2. Your pantry & grocery bill – keeping your pantry and fridge organised and your grocery list lean your saving money on food that you already have or food your don’t need – get some tips Here. Having a couple of go-to meals that are either frozen or easy to prepare so those nights that don’t go to plan you have an easy solution that is NOT takeaway!
  3. Presents & Gifts – start early and save. Write your list earlier and buy when things go on sale.  Being more organised will help take the last minute “buy anything” problem and ultimately save you money along the way.  Also buy spare cards when you see cheap generic cards so you never are stuck with only $5 options.
  4. Buy clothes in off season – buying clothes for the season ahead is an easy money saver especially for children. Buying summer clothes in winter when they are marked down means you get quality clothes for less. For more tips have a look here

Budget Mum BlogAny other ideas that I may of missed? Let me know how you thinking being organised saves money?

Are you wasting money in your pantry – How to STOP

Being unorganised is sometimes unavoidable – or so it feels.  But the problem with disorganisation is that it spreads into every sphere of your life.  But being unorganised in your pantry really cost you more than just time and energy looking for food scrunched up the back of the pantry it also wastes money. So are you wasting money in your pantry?

not waste money in your pantry
How to save money in your pantry

First we will look at how being unorganised can cost you money in the supermarket.  By having a cluttered and overfull pantry you are not using the ingredients you have to their capacity.

  • You waste money by not using things before their used by date and having to throw them out.
  • You waste money by buying items you already own because you didn’t do a shopping list (or meal planner) or you couldn’t find them in your crowded pantry.
  • If you haven’t done a meal planner you buy food “just in case” and then you don’t use it and waste it.
  • You don’t store your food properly and waste items because they go off quickly.

Don’t get me wrong all of these things I am guilty of – I have 3 full jars of tomato paste in my pantry as I type this – but I am committed to cleaning up my pantry in an attempt to stop wasting money on food I already own (tomato paste) and have an organised pantry.  I am pretty good and meal planning but I am very guilty of buying food “just in case” and then wasting it.

Ways to SAVE money before you hit the supermarket.
  1. Clean and organise what you already own.  Throw out anything past its used by date.  Any other items that are in date but you know you wont be using (EG that can of water chestnuts…)  donate. Most supermarkets have a donation bin out the front for food donations to local charities – donate any food you know you won’t use here.
  2. Store food properly!!! Not just the pantry but also the fridge – bags and elastic bands are not a storage system.  If money permits a thousand times over I recommend tupperware! I started my ‘glory box’ (yep giant NERD) at 17 and a lot of stuff was Tupperware when my mum or sisters had parties I would buy.  I then also sold Tupperware which is an awesome way of getting free Tupperware.  BUT I understand not everyone is as into Tupper as me! Haha so if that’s you I suggest glass.  Glass jars are cheap and easy to find.  You can keep when you buy food in them – wash them in the dishwasher and fill with food.  You can also buy them from Ikea, Kmart and even Op Shops – wash and use.  Just make sure they have a proper sealing lid! Another cheap and easy to find option is formula tins! Paint the outside, wash the inside and you’re ready to go!
  3. Come up with meal ideas with what you already own including food that may be close to their used by date.
  4. Write a meal plan for you & your family for the week – include what you already own.  Put your food plan on your fridge to remind yourself what the plan is and stop being asked “what’s for dinner” a thousand times a day.  Check out these printable planners on my Pinterest
  5. Write a list and shop what you need for your meals.
  6. Store your food properly when you get home.  Wash vegetables and fruit – start preparation, like cutting up vegetables etc.  Put the newer food at the back and food to be used up at the front so nothing gets wasted. If you have space you could do something like below to get ready for the week ahead.
    Meal Boxes -
  7. Serve up your left overs – I find if I leave the leftovers in a large bowl they stay that way until it rubbish day.  But if I divide it up into lunch boxes they magically walk out the door.  (The times it doesn’t it get’s put in the freezer the following night).
  8. Have a whiteboard on the fridge so you can keep a list of leftovers that need to be eaten – great if you have teenagers.  The more leftovers that are getting eaten the more money you are saving.

Here are some cheap and cheerful items to get your pantry organisation started.

Ikea Jars
Ikea jars $9.99
Kmart meal planner
Kmart meal planner $3

I hope you can use some of these tips to get your pantry organised and stop wasting money!

Budget Mum Blog