5 Cheap Pantry Staples for Healthy Meals on a Budget

Hey, everyone! It’s been over a year since I moved off campus, and in that time I’ve learned so much about food! Cooking for one can be really tricky- but through trial and error I discovered what’s key to have in your pantry and what’s not, so I decided to share my go-tos with you! This list of cheap pantry staples is vegetarian-friendly (I’m personally not a vegetarian but I often skip out on meat in favor of other forms of protein when I cook for myself) and is by no means everything I have. These cheap pantry staples are the bare essentials. If you just moved off campus and have no idea what you’re doing food-wise, this list may help! Happy eating 🙂

cheap pantry staples

  1. Rice


Rice is a MUST! I always keep at least three different types of rice in my pantry: white, jasmine, and yellow. Rice forms the base of so many meals and it’s fairly inexpensive, lasts a long time, and doesn’t go bad.

2. Beans and chickpeas


Beans and chickpeas are both great sources of protein and fiber, easy to make, and inexpensive.  They’re great as a side or mixed in with rice and veggies.

3. Frozen vegetables


When I first moved off campus, I was buying a mix of fresh and frozen produce. However, I eventually realized that I could never finish eating the fresh ones before they went bad, so I switched to buying mainly frozen veggies with the exception of cucumbers and mushrooms. This is way more economical- I don’t waste money or food and still get the veggies I need. College is so full of spontaneous plans – “Hey, want to get dinner later?” “Sure.” – that it’s easy for fresh produce to get ignored and then spoil.

4. Soups


Soups are a must for the busy college student. There are times when I have less than an hour to make lunch so I often find myself making soup- it’s so quick.  Like a stereotypical college student, I also make instant ramen, but not without putting more ingredients in. I add peas, chia seeds, sriracha sauce, and the occasional egg.

5. Various sauces


Eating rice, beans, and vegetables every day might sound boring- that’s where sauces come in! I always have soy sauce, sriracha, buffalo wing sauce, tomato sauce, and vodka sauce on hand. Sauces instantly take a meal from bland to grand.

Liked this post? What are your pantry staples? Leave comments below! I love reading what you have to say 🙂


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