Hey Freebs! Happy #Shelftember, I hope that your shelf cooking month has been going GREAT for you! I get a lot of questions about how you can shelf cook if you use up all of your supplies or how you know which supplies to keep on hand. Those are really great questions! You've been begging me for a while, so I figured it was FINALLY time to tell you allllll about my favorite kitchen staples that I keep on hand in my refrigerator, freezer AND pantry. I even compiled them into a handy list for you to grab for free!
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So get comfy, because I've got a great video coming atcha that you won't want to miss! Click to watch and make sure that you come back and read some extra tips that aren't in the video! Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for new videos every Thursday!
Click to watch the video online HERE, or click and watch below:
Whew, you made it! I know, I know, that was a long one! But I didn't want to miss telling you about a single kitchen staple because I want you to be able to shelf cook like a champ! Alright, keep on reading for more tips! 😉
REFRIGERATED KITCHEN STAPLES
Shelf cooking is all about using what you have on hand first and supplementing with the few items that you need from the store. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, then make sure that you check out THIS post for more deets!) The refrigerator is the place that you need to look first when you're shelf cooking because it has the food that's going to go bad first. In order to ensure that you're not wasting any food, you have to make sure that you include that food in your weekly meal plan (check that post out HERE).
(UPDATE: You guys begged me, so I finally made a post about how I meal plan for my family of 8! I'm evening doing it on a $25 budget for the week. Make sure that you check it out!)
THE FRIDGE ESSENTIALS
I went through a TON of items in the video, so I'm not going to write them all out here. But don't worry, I've got a printable list of essential kitchen staples at the bottom of this post, so make sure that you check it out! Here are just a few of my refrigerator staples… the essential of the essentials, if you will!
- Milk – Where do I even begin with milk? It's great for drinking, baking, cooking… I think the real question is what can't you use it for?!
- Eggs – We ALWAYS keep eggs on hand. You can bake with them, use them in a meatloaf, or eat them on their own. If you have eggs in your fridge, then you can always have scrambled eggs for a good, filling meal!
- Sauces – I'm talking about salad dressing, barbecue sauce, steak sauce, sriracha… These call all be added to a simple piece of protein or salad to really make your taste buds happy.
- Condiments – Ketchup, mayo, mustard, you get the gist! These are great to keep on hand. You can put them on a sandwich, burger or hotdog. They're also great bases for egg/chicken/tuna/potato salad as well.
- Cheese – I mean, this is just kind of a duh! Do you really need me to tell you why you should always have this on hand?!
- Better Than Bouillon Base – Take a scoop of this paste with some water and you've got an instant base for soups, gravy, and casseroles. I love it so much more than canned broth. Try it, you won't be sorry!
- Butter – I can't even begin to tell you all of the ways that I use butter! Let's just say that it's definitely an essential.
FREEZER KITCHEN STAPLES
The next place that you should look when making your meal plan is your freezer! While this food can last longer than what's in your fridge, it's still perishable and needs to be used up in a timely manner.
THE FREEZER ESSENTIALS
Most people don't use their freezers to their full power. There are so many things that you can freeze that most people don't know about (hello, milk!). Make sure that you check out my post where I give you a tour of my freezers (yes, multiple, you heard that right) and use yours to the best of its ability! Now on to my essentials…
- Chicken – Chicken is so versatile and it can be used in so many different ways! It's nice to always have chicken on hand.
- Ground Beef – I like to buy the big chubs of this since it's cheapest that way. I'll cook a bunch at once and then freeze it into meal-sized portions in a freezer bag. This makes it so much easier to have a home-cooked meal on busy nights!
- Pork – I buy pork chops in bulk, especially when they're on sale! Then I'll break them down into meal-sized portions and use a vacuum sealer so that they'll last longer and I don't have to worry about freezer burn.
- Frozen Veggies – These are a quick and easy way to get some good nutrients in with your family's meal, even when they're not in season.
- Baking Items – If you like to bake, then you need to start keeping those ingredients, like yeast, in your freezer so that they'll last longer!
PANTRY KITCHEN STAPLES
Oh the pantry, this is the place where your dreams can go to die if you don't keep it organized! (Learn how I organize my pantry HERE.) It has such potential to help you finish up with your meal planning, but only if you know what's in there! This honestly goes for everywhere – make sure that you inventory your kitchen so that you know EXACTLY what you have on hand.
THE PANTRY ESSENTIALS
It's SO hard to just choose a few that I would call the best of the best, but I'm going to try my hardest! (If you want to know what your fellow Freebs said about their pantry staples, check out THIS post.) Here goes nothing!
- Peanut Butter – My kids live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! So much so that we have started making freezer pb&j sandwiches that have been a total time-saver!
- Canned Meat – Not only is it great for making chicken or tuna salad, but it's also great to put into chicken enchiladas or soup without having to worry about thawing and cooking chicken when you're in a crunch for time.
- Pasta – It is such an affordable way to feed your family and large groups of people!
- Cream of Chicken/Mushroom Soup – These are easily used to make soups or casseroles that will help you to stretch your meals, and even your leftovers!
- Cereal – We love cereal as a snack! I store mine in plastic cereal containers to make sure that it stays fresh for as long as possible.
- Vinegar – This is great for cleaning! It's also good for making sauces, and your own homemade buttermilk syrup, which is our family's favorite.
- Baking Items – Sugar, flour (these are my favorite canisters that keep my dry ingredients fresh), baking powder, baking soda, all of the essentials!
- Seasonings – I definitely have some favorites, but you'll have to check out the list to see which all I suggest.
- Cooking Oil/Spray – This is a necessity when it comes to cooking or baking to make sure that nothing sticks!
KITCHEN STAPLES PRINTABLE LIST
Alright Freebs, to see what all kitchen staples I keep on hand, be sure to check out my KITCHEN STAPLES PRINTABLE LIST HERE.
What all kitchen staples do YOU keep on hand? Let me know in the comments, it's always fun to see what everybody else loves to use!
Have you checked out ShelfCooking.com yet? Our brand new site is dedicated to helping you cook delicious, homemade, down-home-cooked meals for your family without slaving away in the kitchen!
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Want some more shelf cooking ideas?
- These sweet and sour meatballs are a delicious way to use up some ingredients that you have on hand!
- Find out how I grocery shop on a budget when I need to replenish my stores!
- We've got a list of 100+ dinner ideas to get your mind going while you're meal planning.
Happy shelf cooking!
This is so helpful, thank you! And congrats on the twins 🙂
I’m so glad that it’s helpful! And thank you 🙂
Jordan, I just want to say thank you for inspiring me with Shelftember!
My husband and I are in our last year of grad school, so we already live off a pretty tight budget each month. It’s just the two of us, and we live in an apartment, so we have whatever food we’ve stored in our (small) freezer and (small) pantry over the last several months. We’re pretty good about buying extra pantry/freezer items whenever we grocery shop, so we’ve had plenty to work with for Shelftember.
We usually spend about $140/month on groceries/restaurants, so we decided to cut our budget to $15/week ($60 for the whole month) for Shelftember, and so far we have spent $31.88 on food, compared to the $270 we spent last month. And on top of that, we also did a week-long spending freeze, and in all we have spent $400 less than we did last month! How awesome is that?! Not to mention the fact that I have become much more creative with dinner ideas, some of which are now on our favorites list 🙂
Again, thank you for the inspiration! And yes, if two college students, on a small budget, and living in a small apartment can make Shelftember work, then anybody can!
Wow, that is SO great to hear! It makes me so proud when I hear how well shelf cooking and spending freezes goes for Freebs! Way to go saving $400 this month, I’m sure that it will go towards good use 🙂 Keep up the good work!
That video was very helpful. I have 6 children and our “staples” look very similar. I know it has been almost a year since you did it, so I’m not sure if you will see this post, but I was wondering if you would mind telling me the brand of your fridge or maybe where you purchased it ? We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen and I am looking for a very large fridge/freezer unit like your’s so that I don’t have to continue using 2 regular fridges. Blessings
Our oversized fridge was here when we moved in so I’m not sure where it came from, but it’s the Sub-Zero brand. I like it because it’s more shallow than a typical fridge so we don’t lose stuff to the back!
Thank you so much. I have already been in touch with the Sub-Zero manufacturer to get a catalog of all their options for my kitchen renovation. I have watched several more of your videos since watching this one and I want to tell others with large families, the “dot” system on items (clothes & shoes) works wonderfully as does the “clean laundry baskets” for each person, and we have very similar recipes for large families. Mother’s of large families have to be so organized and efficient ;). Blessings to you and your family.