Just so you know, We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post as affiliates. Please also note that none of my opinions replace medical advice. These are my opinions gained through my personal experiences.
With having a large family and a strict budget, in order to keep it clean and have it be manageable within the schedule, I stock up on essentials! For one week’s worth, I have a standard budget of $250 for a family of 6. Five out of 6 are boys so I expect this to only grow as they do, so I plan to learn to become even more thrifty while keeping the food clean! I repeat the same meals each week for 2 reasons: Time management and budget. My husband is deployed and we have 4 kids. We are constantly on the go and I don’t have time to sit down and create a meal plan each week. In order to break up the monotony, I keep 1 day for a new recipe and that’s super easy to add that 1 meal to my recipe list for the week. If we’re in a mega hurry and end up having a pizza night, which is bound to happen, it’s great because I can save that, let’s say spaghetti Sunday, recipe for the following week and I’m still not feeling as if I’m double spending. Check out my post on the easy weekly meal plan HERE.
*most images have a link to click-through and purchase online.
30-Ingredient Essentials List
- Bread: Nature’s Own Perfectly-Crafted makes a great Non-GMO bread or Rudi’s Organic Kids White bread are great, affordable options.
- Milk – I go with 1% organic for white milk and chocolate almond milk which is a great dairy-free option. Silk products are amazing!
- Eggs – Any organic eggs will do!
- Margarine – organic or non-GMO. Smart Balance makes a great organic margarine spread.
- Butter – Organic stick butter WITH salt for cooking as needed is always important to have on hand.
- Peanut Butter – My kids prefer creamy. We use Smart Balance creamy and also keep Peanut Butter Co. Dark Chocolate on hand for breakfast and lunch shakes. For snacking, we use apples for dipping or add to toast with a bit of honey!
- Rice – Long grain organic. I use this as a side for a multitude of meals. It’s so easy to add different seasonings to and change up as needed.
- Cheese. Shredded block is more cost-effective and shred it as needed. It lasts longer and costs less.
- Garlic Powder.
- Salt and pepper. This bag has lasted me over a year and I use it on every recipe. It’s real sea salt, gluten free and unrefined.
- A few pounds of ground turkey and/or ground beef. Freeze extra. Buy in bulk and divide when you get home to freeze in meal-size portions.
- Chicken for chicken night! If you are picking certain areas to skimp on organic or non-GMO, poultry is NOT the one to do that. If anything, when it come to protein foods, keep the poultry organic. It is a few extra bucks, but a few extra bucks well spent for peace of mind knowing you have a healthy meal for your family free of harmful chemicals from chickens possibly raised under appalling conditions.
- Fish of choice. My whole family loves salmon and it’s super easy for a quick dinner. Add a veggie and rice and wallah! Cook a salmon at the beginning of the week to use as a salad topper for your lunches, add to the kiddos lunch boxes, whip up some fish tacos for dinner, etc. it’s just an easy go-to staple protein. We also like to keep cans of tuna on hand for snacking or lunches.
- Fresh produce to use throughout the week. Bananas are ESSENTIAL for shakes and easy snacks throughout the week. There’s great organic, cost-effective frozen produce as well that you can use for a quick side to add nutrients to any dinner. Cutie mandarins are easy to throw in lunches or have the kids grab for a snack as well as add to salads! They’re super simple to peel and pack well for on the go. They also are non-GMO certified.
- Dessert. We need something for dessert most nights. Ice cream is the go-to! Alden’s Organic is awesome. Find your newest store that carries Alden’s HERE. Some weeks, I keep organic chocolate chips on hand as an alternative. Of course, chocolate cookies are a go-to, but we also enjoy banana bread often and add in chocolate chips or top our pancakes with them for a fun sweet-tooth kind of day!
- Baking powder. Rumford is great because they are aluminum free! Our kids don’t need aluminum in their systems.
- Baking soda.
- Cooking spray.
- Tortilla chips. Chips and shredded cheese, heated up in the microwave for 30 seconds, is a go-to quick lunch for my youngest. He’s on the spectrum and has been in a stage to only eat food that is white for quite some time now. This isn’t a packed-full-of-nutrition meal, but he’s getting sustenance and we always introduce new foods to him. One day, we hope he’ll bite, literally. Thankfully, Cape Cod at least makes a quinoa-based chip.
- Potato chips and pretzels for snacking. Snyder’s pretzels are non-GMO and great to throw in the lunch box. They also have a gluten-free pretzel if you have to consider that. I find that, unfortunately, when we went gluten-free, organic and gluten-free weren’t always options available. We had to decide between the two or pay an arm and a leg. We’ve gone with organic/non-GMO as a priority for our family. See HERE for that blog post.
- Noodles. Having spaghetti noodles and penne on hand helps! I use penne to make butter noodles, curry noodles or many other seasonings added for a quick and filling side. This is a super affordable 6-pack with 3 of each kind.
- Maple syrup.
- Curry. Curry chicken is one of our weekly meals. The kids love it and the spice works well in many other recipes.
- Coconut milk. You can’t make curry chicken, curry fish, etc., without coconut milk. This is great to buy in bulk, as it is canned and has a lengthy expiration date. Here’s a pack of 6 for under $13. This will last you for months.
- Cinnamon. Not only is this a main ingredient in many recipes, such as french toast, but cinnamon toast is a great before school breakfast or after school quick snack.
- Crackers – Use these for school lunches and for meatloaf recipe.
- Taco seasoning.
- Lipton’s onion soup mix for meatloaf seasoning.
These 30 ingredients of essentials will keep your pantry stocked full of what you need for a week and most likely will last much longer. A lot of the images above link to bulk purchases, so it’s a buy you won’t have to make often. Check out my accompanying week full of meals that you can use with all of these ingredients.