You want to have a well-stocked pantry. What are the thriftiest things to store in your pantry? Dried beans, rice, pasta, cornmeal and flour.
Dried beans score high points on the thrift meter. They’re inexpensive and can be stored for up to a year. I’ve actually stored them for longer periods and you just have to cook them a little longer. Beans are widely used around the world and you will find them in soups and chilies, pureed into hummus or eaten whole in burritos and salads. As a cheap source of protein, they pair well with rice and pasta, two starches that are also inexpensive and versatile.
Canned beans are cheap, and when time is at a premium, they come in handy, but dried beans win in matters of taste. A from–the–can white bean salad or slow cooked chili will wind up mushy and mealy; but with home cooked beans, you control the cooking time, so you can opt for a firmer texture. Dried beans are absolutely the cheapest way to go. A 1-pound bag will yield more than 6 cups of cooked beans and broth. A 15.5oz can of beans gives you 1-2 cups. You can also cook up a bag of beans and then store what you don’t need in the freezer. Lay them flat to freeze and they’ll defrost faster. Be sure to include some of the broth when you are packaging the beans for freezing, it will help ward off freezer burn.
Cornmeal is another great item to store in your pantry. It comes in handy for polenta, corn bread and as a coating for fried foods.
Flour does it all: bread, pasta, cookies and treats of all sorts. If you are storing whole-wheat flour it is best to store it in your freezer so it doesn’t go rancid.
Every home cook will have a different opinion about which ingredients are essential and anyone on a restricted diet will have to address individual needs. But these five ingredients were chosen for their ability to multitask and hold up in the pantry, fridge or freezer.