I’ve been crushing on some beautiful pantries over on Instagram this week, I think because I’ve been talking so much about the Capsule Pantry system. Part of that system is keeping those essential healthy pantry staples on hand at all times. But not just any pantry staple – it’s the ones that do double duty and the ones that save you time and money that I want to focus on.

Having and keeping up on an uber-organized pantry is beneficial in so many ways…

  • cuts down on time in the kitchen because you can find what you need and you know it’s not expired
  • saves you money because you only buy what you need and use
  • keeps you from throwing out cans of tunafish that went bad back in ’13… #zerowaste
  • looks pretty! ?

I don’t know what it is about a beautifully organized pantry, it just inspires me to keep the entire kitchen organized and I want to cook. The bins and baskets and labels – oh my!


These are the items that I keep, things that are versatile and can be used in many different ways or when I need something quick and easy. Especially if I didn’t meal plan, and don’t have a backup plan.

I also need to tell you about where I’ve been getting most of my pantry items from because I absolutely love it and I’ve used it multiple times – Thrive Market. Their products and selection are amazing, and if you haven’t checked them out, please do! They currently have a promotion (I don’t know how long it will last) for 25% your first order and free shipping. If you want to take advantage of that or just browse their site – click the picture below.

{Now, that is an affiliate link (along with some of the other links in this post) which means I may earn a commission if you click the link and purchase – at no extra cost to you. I also want to add that the prices in this post are valid at the time of this article and could change at any time. Please research the best prices for yourself.}

1 Chicken / Beef / Vegetable Broth

I use chicken and beef broth constantly and this is something I DO NOT advocate buying in cans or cartons. Yes, you can make your own broth but I’ve done the math (yep, I actually DID the math) and for 9 cents per cup (yep, 9¢!) you could get this Better Than Bouillon base instead. They have 19 different kinds (hello, Lobster or Mushroom base!)

Best place to buy: Now, here’s the trick: if you can, get it at a warehouse store. First, it’s two times bigger – 16 oz instead of 8 oz. Second, it’s cheaper – around $5 at Walmart/Target but it’s only $7 at Costco and BJ’s (last time I bought one) and you’re getting twice as much. It seriously lasts forever – the larger jar is 76 cups of broth ($7/76 = $.09 cents per cup!).

2 Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Confession time: I don’t really love cooked tomatoes (and I’m allergic to them, but raw only – true story) but they are a fantastic base to so many recipes. I make a lot of Mexican and Italian dishes and as you can imagine, you can’t really make much of either without tomatoes! My favorite is Muir Glen, but a lot of stores are coming up with their own brand now so make sure you check your local grocery store.

Best place to buy: Amazon has a good price on Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes when you buy a case of 12. If you’re buying them singly, Thrive Market is slightly more and there’s only a minimum of two.

3 Breadcrumbs or Panko

This is a borderline pantry/freezer staple because most people have store bought bread crumbs or panko, and that’s kept in the pantry. But I highly, highly, recommend making them yourself and then keeping a container in the freezer. Sooooo much cheaper (and yummier!) that way! I keep a bag of bread ends/butts/leftovers – whatever you call them – in the freezer and when it fills up, I put them in a low temp oven to dry them out and then into the food processor. I store them in 2-cup containers in the freezer, write the date on them, and then just pull them out when I need them. It’s like free food, because you weren’t going to eat the end anyway, were you???

4 Coconut Milk (in a can)

Oh how I love thee coconut milk in a can. It’s a delicious coffee creamer, can be added to smoothies, and can even be made into dairy-free whipped cream. But I love it especially because it can be added to a recipe in place of milk or cream which means I don’t have to make sure I have those in the fridge. Like this Creamy Mushroom and Sage Chicken recipe. It’s important to note here that the refrigerated coconut milk in the refrigerated section (or the cartons in the grocery section) are NOT the same thing. Those are coconut milk beverage vs the real stuff they scoop out of a coconut (it’s kinda like capri sun juice vs 100% apple juice) – I still drink and love the cold one but I’m just pointing out that it’s not what we’re talking about here.

Best place to buy: Thrive Market wins with their own brand and you can buy them singly, and Amazon has Native Forest Organic for slightly more but you have to buy a case of 12.

5 Fresh, High-Quality Spices

Herbs and spices are one of those things that can totally transform the flavor of your dish. You could take a pan of chicken, diced tomatoes, veggies, and broth and make endless combinations based just on the seasonings you use.

Italian – basil, oregano, rosemary.

French – sage, rosemary, marjoram and thyme.

Mexican – child powder, oregano, cumin.

Greek – lemon pepper, oregano, thyme.

Indian – curry, cumin, turmeric, and coriander.

Having a fully stocked spice rack is one of the most frugal ways to keep your meals different and exciting for your family without buying tons of different ingredients, it’s also one of the best ways to transform your Capsule Pantry. But buying spices has a downfall, right? They can be expensive, you usually won’t use all of the bottle, and they lose their flavor quickly (use and toss most within 6 months!).

Best place to buy: My remedy for all of that is to buy them in bulk at a natural foods store. This way, you can buy just a few tablespoons at a time for mere pennies. The last time I did this I got 9 different spices for just over $3! Buy yourself some cute little glass spice jars (trust me, it will still save you money in the long run) and then you’ll have a spice rack your foodie friends will be jealous of.


Beans are so useful and versatile in the kitchen – I love them in soups, mashed up to make a sauce thicker (get the kids to eat them without realizing it!), and even in cookies and brownies.

For years I used the canned ones because, hey they were only like 79¢ or less on sale. I had heard how easy it was to make them yourself from a bag of dried beans but I was kind of intimidated. Oh yeah, I’ll whip up risotto like nobody’s business (it’s not hard, I swear!) but a bag of beans had me running for the hills…lol.

So finally I did it – bought a bag for about the same price, threw them in a pot with some water and cooked them for a few hours while I did other non-kitcheny stuff. And I got about 6 cups out of the bag – so 3 times as much! I put them in small one-cup plastic bags and froze them. Oh, and they taste so much better and have less sodium too.

Best place to buy: Thrive Market has 4 varieties of organic 10 oz bags for suuuuuuper cheap. Second best would be your local grocery store.

7 Coconut Aminos

If you haven’t heard of coconut aminos, it’s a replacement for soy sauce made out of coconuts. I believe soy is one of the worst things we can consume – it mimics the body’s natural estrogen hormones and it’s especially bad for boys, so I don’t feed it to my boys. It’s also added to SO MANY foods, so I try to lessen using it as much as possible. I found coconut aminos when I was nursing my youngest and he couldn’t have like 18 different foods (seriously.) and soy was one of them. Did you know that most people that have a problem with dairy will also have a problem with soy? Coconut aminos is a delicious substitute in all those asian-inspired foods or marinades.

Best place to buy: Thrive Market has their own brand in a larger bottle than the leading brand – 10 oz for a really great price!

8 Gluten Free Pasta

Dried pasta is cheap, fast, and easy (I’m totally restraining myself with a joke here, fyi!). It’s the ultimate comfort food, kid-friendly food, and oops-I-forgot-about-dinner food! I used to eat pasta a lot, and even craved it, but since I went gluten free, I don’t crave pasta or bread any more at all. Every once in a while, I will make some gluten free pasta though and my current favorite (if you can have corn) is Ronzoni – it has a texture more like traditional pasta and doesn’t fall apart as easily as brown rice or quinoa pasta, in my opinion. Have you ever tried the black bean pasta? I haven’t but it looks so cool that I definitely want to make a dish with it, I think my 3 year old would get a kick out of black noodles!

Best place to buy: Your local grocery store. Even the gluten free stuff – they often go on sale for 1.99/box and you can’t find it much cheaper online.

9 Almond Butter

My son is not allergic to peanuts (surprisingly and thankfully!) but so many kids are deathly allergic to it, and as an allergy mom that is really scary and something I try to be sensitive to. It’s honestly just easier to avoid peanut butter so I don’t accidentally send him to school with it, or give it to him as a snack before we go to the park or something. Believe it or not, some kids are THAT sensitive to it. I personally like the taste of almond butter better now anyway and it’s a good thing to add to smoothies, no-bake oatmeal balls, or just some apple slices. My favorite is Justin’s Maple Almond Butter or if I’m not having sugar, I like the Thrive Market Non-GMO Creamy Almond Butter (it doesn’t have to go in the fridge!).

Best place to buy: Thrive Market has Justin’s Maple Almond Butter in a 16 oz jar – twice as big as the grocery stores – and it’s a great price. They also have the 10 pack of individual packets if you don’t go through it quickly – but Amazon is sometimes cheaper for the same 10 pack.

10 Coconut Oil

You knew this had to be on the list, right? You know I love things that do double duty and this is one of them. I love cooking with it (it has a higher smoking point than butter and it’s a healthier oil choice than olive oil). I also put it in my coffee or a smoothie sometimes, and you can use it in baked goods as a replacement for butter. I mean, just do a quick search in Pinterest and you can find a gazillion posts like ‘101 things to do with coconut oil’.

Yes you can also use it as moisturizer, a makeup remover, eczema treatment…and the list goes on. I definitely recommend keeping a separate jar for cooking though – or scoop some out into a smaller container to use for your beauty routine. You don’t want to contaminate your cooking oil jar with your fingers!

Not all coconut oil is created the same – you want virgin, unrefined, organic, cold-pressed coconut oil with a very defined coconut smell. Do not just get the cheapest one you can find!

Best place to buy: If you use a lot of it, your BJ’s or Costco or Sam’s Club will be the best deal last I checked. If you want a regular sized jar – Thrive Market is the best option for one regular sized jar. Plus they often (like almost all.the.time.) run a promotion where you can get a free jar of it with a certain sized order – usually the same threshold as their free shipping.

I really can’t say enough good things about Thrive Market – their selection and quality, free super-fast shipping, plus a free item with every order – it just makes grocery shopping simple.

Simplicity and balance is what I’m striving towards in my life in every area.

I don’t need every option out there or to stress out about saving 53¢ by going to a different store. I finally feel satisfied and comfortable in my simple kitchen routine now, and that’s my hope for you too.

We spend sooooo much time in the kitchen, especially as moms, we need it to be as easy as possible.

That’s why I’m going to add something really corny here but…

HEALTHY PANTRY STAPLE #11: Capsule Pantry Blueprint

Yes, the 11th thing you need in your pantry is an organized – yet simple – meal plan. If you haven’t checked out the Capsule Pantry system yet, go for it – I promise it can help your entire daily life be more streamlined without being over-the-top organized.

You can take a peek into my own Capsule Pantry with a free mini kid-friendly menu (it’s in the Freebies Library!) for you so you can try it out for a week and envision how simple one monthly menu + one grocery list truly is.

In the meantime, go clean out your pantry and use this inventory sheet!