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See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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Save money on groceries by using coupons to keep your fridge & pantry stocked with staple items.

Stocking Up on Staple Items

I’m always asked:  “Is it cheaper to just eat the convenience boxed foods at couponing prices or to cook from scratch?”  Earlier this week we gave you a few examples that pretty much showed that it is the same cost either way.  One way to enjoy cooking from scratch though is to always have a pantry stocked with the little things that a recipe might call for.

pantry-staple-items-list

I don’t mean having the random can of sliced apricots that you’ll never open, but the true basic staple items that are common in many recipes you’ll want to try.   To help you feel organized I put together two things for you:

This list can help you make sure you have it all.  It is also a great way to note when you need to start looking for a sale on a particular item.

This is where “couponing” and “from scratch” cooking meet up.  We want to grab all of these items when they are at their lowest price and stock up on them.  Many of the items on this list you can get at even lower prices, but a goal should be to get them at the price listed or less.  Stock up when you see that price and then you are set for any recipe that you come across.

Saving yourself from running to the store for that one item will not only save time, but also save a ton of money.  Whenever I “run to the store” I will pay retail for things that I need.  It’s just the way sales work.

Related Posts:

Handmade vs. Couponing: Cooking
Common Goods Items Buy Price List

Note:  We all have different tastes so obviously this list can’t be all inclusive for everyone.  It is just a list of the common ingredients in many common recipes.

Save money by keeping your fridge & pantry stocked with all of the staple items.

    • Laura

      Another thing I have enjoyed keeping in the freezer is ginger root. You can just take it out and grate off what you need.

      • Shelly

        Yup, I do that now! I had read that tip recently. My ginger was always getting little mold spot on it or turning mushy if I didn't use it fast enough.

      • Rachel

        Good idea, I keep buying tiny pieces of ginger because mine always mold, too.

    • Jenniferlyndswanson

      wow- i have not seen sugar at $1.50 for a 5 lb bag! i only shop publix though.

      • http://twitter.com/bobbinbopbop Bethany Hall

        Bilo regularly puts their brand or dixie on sale. You should branch out a bit if you have a bi-lo or ingles near you check their sale adds!

    • Susan

      How often do Cream of soups go on sale? I don't recall seeing them on sale or seeing coupons for Campbells. Is there a source somewhere I'm missing?

      I wish we had publix here… :(

      • quarleywoman

        They were on sell just about 3 weeks ago at Bi-Lo and at Kroger. They were billed as cooking soups but you could get tomato, cream of chicken, cream of broccoli etc for 1.00 a can and had coupons for $1/2 so they were .50 each. Frequently it seems things are billed with faces I don't readily recognize and I have to look at the item. Actually going to the store site and viewing the circulars is helpful for me even though it takes some extra time. That way I don't miss deals. Yeah I wish I had a Publix too!!

      • Shelly

        They seem to go on sale every few weeks at Walgreens. It's a great thing to use a few extra RR's on if there aren't any good deals and you have some that are expiring.

      • Jessicagsmith

        There was a coupon on Campbells website a few days ago you should look there.

    • Catherine

      Where can you buy cheap spices? I don't seem to notice them going on sale, with the possible exception of sweet spices for cookies around the holidays.

      • Sarah

        I've noticed that the spices that are sold in the Hispanic foods area of the grocery store are often significantly cheaper than spices in the baking aisle. They are often sold in plastic bags rather than in spice jars. Also, you can sometimes find spices at Dollar Tree and other dollar stores. If you have a grocery store that sells spices in bulk this can be a lot cheaper especially for spices that you only want a little bit of for a particular recipe. Hope this helps!

      • Deals4amycorene

        I don't know where you live, but I find great prices at the international farmer's markets in the Atlanta area. Dekalb Farmer's Market especially. If you are within 30-45 min, it is worth the trip to stock up on spices! You can get a small tub of just about anything for around $1.

        • katie

          I LOVE the DeKalb Farmer's Market — and yes, it's definitely the best place to stock up on spices if one lives nearby.

      • Desiree

        Cost Plus World Market has very inexpensive spices (sold in bags– $1.99 each). I buy all my spices there now. If you do not already have small spice jars, they sell glass jars for less than $2.

        • Desiree

          Also, they WorldMarket regularly sends out $10 off $30 or $5 off $15 coupons, so you can use those to stock up on all your spices. They have a coffee club that earns one free bag of coffee for every six bags (punches) you purchase. On Wednesdays you get double punches. I use their coupons to stock up on coffee (buy three bags on Wednesdays & get one free) and spices, as well as other pantry items (they sometimes have large bottles of olive oil BOGO). If you join the World Explorer club (you just enter your phone number each time you check out), for every $100 you spend on food, you receive a $10 store credit.

      • kellie

        If you live close to a Whole Foods, you can buy spices in the bulk aisle for next to nothing. I can refill my cinnamon jar for less than $.50 there. And the variety is fantastic!

    • Brdennis68

      Fabulous tips!

    • ivegotcutekids

      I have never tried freezing cheese. Does it freeze well?

      • Bridget

        Hard cheese like cheddar freezes well, just not soft ones like cream cheese. Just thaw in the fridge when you are ready to eat and enjoy! Check the expiration dates, too – I have often found that the sell by dates on blocks of cheddar can be five or six months out, so we end up eating it all long before we would need to freeze it, no matter how much we buy at one time.

      • Beth

        I froze shredded cheeses for lasagna and it turned out just as good as the day I bought it!

      • Couponnicki

        we freeze cheese often b/c it doesn't take up much room and it is expensive when it's not on sale. If I'm cooking with it, I won't even thaw it out. Melts perfectly!

      • Rachel

        It only freezes well if you plan to cook with it, i.e. grilled cheese or cheese on pizza, etc. If you keep shredded cheese to eat raw (like on a salad), it will taste grainy. Flavor is fine but the texture will be affected from being frozen.

    • Holly

      This great! Love it!

    • quarleywoman

      I have really started looking at some of the pricing on the smaller volumes in things like flour and especially sugar. I can buy the 2 lb box of domino at a great price when I use the .40/1 or .50/1 coupons at a store that doubles. Then your price per pound comes down significantly over buying the 5 lb bags using those coupons. You have to use more coupons but the savings is great. Same thing applies to the Shedd Spread butter. I can get the 1 lb tubs for .15- .20 fairly frequently, using a .40/1 or .50/1 coupon that doubles and if I buy multiple tubs then my savings increases over the 3 lb tub. Many of the coupons for .50 or less makes the smaller volume containers a much better deal. I used that same technique buying Hunts Katchup this week, 24 oz bottle .99 coupon .40/1 or may have been .50/1 I don't really remember. Cost .19 cents or free, either way I'm a winner. Very different from what we were taught about “large volume means better value.”

    • Deals4amycorene

      Thank you for doing this, these little organization tools are really helpful. I much prefer cooking from scratch so I really appreciate your post on this.

    • Ruby3232

      Do you have a price list like this for other grocery items. As a new couponer I don't quite know what stock up prices are on most items. I am sure stock up pricing depends on where you live but do you have a round about idea of what to shoot for?

      • jessica1970

        Ruby: Do a search for “buy price list” and you should find one Jenny uses. You might want to watch her video tutorials as well.

    • jenny

      Those prices are a little unrealistic for me.. I live in an area that does not triple coupons and there are only 2 stores that double coupons, but out of the way for me. I shop mostly Food Lion and Target and I'm pretty happy with the savings I get.. though I sure am envious of those who can shop at a Publix!

      You can save even more on fresh fruits and vegs when you go to Pick-Your-Own farms… An orchard near me sells cherries you pick yourself for 69/lb! We pick lots and can them ourselves.

    • nicole

      Thanks! This is really helpful, especially since I'm in your shopping area! I've been making more things from scratch recently and we are enjoying it so far. The best part is that I know what I'm putting in things and there aren't loads of random ingredients.

    • Littlepanchuk

      This was very helpful, but there are some items listed that I have never seen on sale at a price even close to the ones listed in the 9 months that I have been couponing. Flour and yeast, for example. Can anyone tell me what stores run sales for these items often?

      • Shelly

        I just got 4 or 5 strips of yeast FREE at Kroger a couple weeks ago. It was clearanced at .69 per pkg and I had .40 q's that doubled up to the price. It doesn't expire until 2011! You can't count on luck like that, but you can definitely take advantage of it when it comes along. I bought Gold Medal flour for around $1 after doubled q and sale last year sometime. I bought enough to last me until the next sale. Once you get into the rhythm of the sales cycles, you will find deals on things like that!

        • Littlepanchuk

          Thanks.

    • kjmiller

      If you're fortunate enough to live close to a Trader Joe's, they also have fantastic prices on spices (I think I found Saffron threads there for less than a few dollars when normally they run 7+). Plus they have the common ones like Basil, Cinnamon, etc.. Also, LOVE their self-contained multi-colored peppercorn grinders and “everyday” seasoning grinders at $1.99!

    • kjmiller

      Meant to mention too that having refrigerated crushed/minced garlic in the fridge is a time-, life- saver!

    • Laura

      Canned goods, ie:Cream of soups, veggies,and fruit, are very inexpensive at Aldi. Just remember that Aldi is cash or debt card only. Great deals.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/S3N54S3J2Q2GYNEOAO7J3WL62Q C

      I'm just getting around to reading the posts but, my question was answered!! Cheese can be frozen! I was hesitant about doing so, but, I have alot of shredded cheese in the fridge and I won't be using for a while so I think I will freeze it! THANKS everyone!

      • Mike

        Shreded cheese can be frozen. Do not freeze block cheese.

      • Ebcsmom

        I freeze block cheese all the time and have wonderful results!

    • Alliecat

      Can you use coupons at the Aldi store?

      • jenny

        Aldi sells mostly off-brands, so they do not accept coupons. They feel they are cheap enough with the products they have.

    • kbribelin

      Can you freeze milk and if so, how does it turn out when it's thawed? sometimes I see a great deal on milk, like 1$ a gal at aldi's, or, like I'm gonna get free smart balance milk at Safeway, aka in my area, Tom thumb, with the catalina roll overs!

      • Au_prospector

        I wouldnt freeze milk because it expands in volume when frozen. You are likely to burst the container. If you try to transfer it to a larger container and freeze try to make it a flexable one if you must and be prepared for about a 10% expansion in volume. What is likely to happen is it freezes first on the outside, then to the core which will make your container pop on a random side. For an example, look at ice cubes. They are never flat on the top exposed surface, they bulge. Hope that helps some.

      • Jessicagsmith

        I have frozen milk before and the only kind that is good once thawed out is skim because the fat in the milk seperates and it is hard to get it to mix it back together. It has never burst though. The container does expand but none of mine have ever burst.

      • Tappitytaptap

        I freeze milk ALL THE TIME! I can buy it at Kroger for .99 – 1.50, depending on the neighborhood, how much stock they have, & how close it is to exp. date.
        I open the jug & pour out about an inch worth. I save that bit in a tupperware container in the fridge — it never goes to waste — then put the jugs in the freezer. Rotate your stock so you use the oldest first, and do NOT fail to pour out an inch due to expansion and bursting.
        I prefer whole & 2% to freeze. Let them sit overnight in the sink, & shake well once thawed. The fat & water separate, & you'll find the water remains frozen, depending on the warmth of your kitchen (ie, winter, you'll keep ice longer than summer). Just train your family to give it a good slosh before pouring. Skim has much less fat, and goes bad after thawing too fast, even in fridge. The others last a good week for us.
        I never run out to the store with snow watches for bread & milk, because I always have several gallons in the freezer. HTH!

      • Melanie

        Just wanted to coment that I buy 7 gallons of milk at a time at Sam's Club and freeze 3 when I get home. I never open them or pour any out and have not had any burst. Milk containers typically have indentations that will fill out to when the frozen milk starts to expand. Perhaps I've had such good results because of the particular jugs Sam's uses, who knows.

        When I start getting down to one gallon in the fridge, I pull the other 3 out and it takes about 1.5 days sitting out on the counter to thaw enough to put it into the fridge. May take only 1 day if it's a particularly hot day.

        I have frozen whole milk and 2% and as long as you shake it very well after you thaw it, you should not have any problem. The key is letting it thaw out all the way. If a chunk of ice is still in the middle, all your fat is still there and you'll be drinking watery milk. Been doing this for over a year. I loved the square milk bottles they had for awhile, because I could stack them upright….but the regular ones work fine too. I actually turn them on their side to freeze and stack them that way. Hope this helps.

      • bcselman

        I freeze milk all the time and it is fine after it is completely thawed. I often stock up when I find a great deal and keep it in the freezer.

      • Coupons777

        Thanks so much for asking this question! I had no idea you could freeze milk! I passed up an extra free 1/2 gallon of Smart Balance last week as I knew we would not use it in time. Now that I know I can freeze it I won't be passing up anymore free milk!

    • Sione

      Everyone should make their own “Pantry Staples Items Buy Price list.” Some of the prices there there are way more than I would ever pay, while others are lower than anything I've seen, even w/ coupons. Another thing to consider is frequency of purchase. Almost all foods have onions in them. That means I go through a lot of onions, so I make sure that I get a good price. Tobasco sauce on the other hand, is rarely used in my cooking and so 1 small bottle could easily last up to a year. If I have to pay a little more than what my “buy price list” says, its ok since I probably won't buy anymore for at least a year.

    • katie

      one thing that has saved me money over the years is making my own cleaning supplies — white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and salt is all I need to clean my house from top to bottom, and the cost is significantly lower…it's also better for the environment and pet friendly.

      I also cut my laundry detergent with with Borax. I only use 1/3 of detergent and 2/3's Borax. Additionally Borax is a good carpet freshener and repels bugs and fleas (I sprinkle on my carpets twice a year and vacuum up…it works wonders!)

    • Renep22

      I love this. Its so helpful! Thanks so much for all your work.

    • Kcreviews

      I know you said the pantry list wasn't exhaustive, and it's not. Just wanted to add one spice that I use ALL the time: cumin. It's great for Mexican dishes.

    • Susan

      Would it be possible to add the quantity to the price list? Some of them are obvious, but others, it would be helpful.

    • Holly Shadix

      I am not able to open either of these. Is there anyway you could email it to me at hshadix1234@charter.net? Thanks in advance!

    • Luvmykj

      I would also add steak seasoning. It's an all in one that is great in many beef dishes.

    • R Downs

      I am still so new to your website, and I have to say I love it. I do have one question. On your pantry items, you list some stuff free. How is that? Maybe I do not have the concept down yet…. Thank you :)

      • Uuleel

        R Downs, the “free” items listed on the pantry items list means that you don't EVER have to pay full price for that product. For instance, if mustard was on sale 2/$3.00 and you happen to have a manufacturer's coupon for .75 cents – then you could potentially get the item for FREE. I would buy 1 bottle of mustard which would be $1.50 and use my the .75 cents coupon (my local Harris Teeter will double coupons) which is REALLY $1.50 worth so I would get the mustard for FREE. I would stock up on this type of item if you or family uses them often. Then you will always have it on hand and would never have to pay full price for when you need it. I hope this helps!!

        • R Downs

          Thank you so much, yes this helps. :)

          • http://twitter.com/PreciousPixie4U Precious

            If you are not lucky enough to have a Harris Teeter, which I sooo wish that I was lucky enough to have, Winn Dixie and Publix double up to 50 cents. I am pretty new too, but learning fast that I have been throwing money to Walmarts all these years. Kinda makes me sick. I am in the process of trying to not buy from Walmarts. Lol, down to drinks and dog snacks. Happy Couponing!!!

    • http://twitter.com/PreciousPixie4U Precious

      If you are not lucky enough to have a Harris Teeter, which I sooo wish that I was lucky enough to have, Winn Dixie and Publix double up to 50 cents. I am pretty new too, but learning fast that I have been throwing money to Walmarts all these years. Kinda makes me sick. I am in the process of trying to not buy from Walmarts. Lol, down to drinks and dog snacks. Happy Couponing!!!