A minimalist pantry, to me, is a pantry filled with items you use all the time and lots of each.
Yep, in bulk, if you can.
Keep plenty of the staples you always use for meals and then all you have to do is keep fresh produce updated every week.
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To get started with being more organised with your weekly groceries, (or stop needing to go weekly) the first thing you do is make a list of what you eat in your home.
#1 WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU EAT?
List the meals you eat regularly throughout the day and during the week. As a family and individually for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks. Just enough meals for a week is all you need.
Include your children’s special snacks as well, if it’s a repeating item you might as well. Ours is frozen berries!
#2 CREATE YOUR INGREDIENTS LIST
Now you will need to go through and name the ingredients for each meal/snack you have listed and gather them in like items, see below. I use a google doc for this.
I have created categories that might help you to organise your ingredients.
As an example, Porridge always needs Rolled Oats, Milk, Brown Sugar or Honey.
Make a separate list for fresh fruit and vegetables you use.
NUTS & SEEDS
- Rolled Oats
- Nuts (peanuts, almonds, Brazil, cashew)
- Seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, chia)
- Coconut Shredded
- Peanut Butter
- Coconut Oil
BEANS & BREAD
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Beans (Kidney Cannellini)
- Popcorn Kernels
- Wholegrain Bread
- Flour Tortillas
- Frozen Berries
- Frozen Bananas
- Choc Chips
- Stevia or Other Sweetener (for baking)
SAUCES & SNACKS
- Gherkins / Pickles
- Soy Sauce
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Curry Paste
- Crushed Ginger
- Crushed Garlic
- Tinned Tomatoes
- Tomato Paste
- Beef/Chicken Stock
CHILLED / DAIRY
- Almond Milk
- Sour Cream
- Cream Cheese
- Ice Cream (for the kids!)
BEEF, PORK & POULTRY
- Breakfast Sausages
- Cold Chicken / Ham
- Breakfast Tea/Herbal Tea
- Hot Chocolate
- Soda Water
#3 HIGHLIGHT ITEMS YOU COULD BUY IN BULK
DO SOME RESEARCH
Now it’s time to source the best price vs best quality now. The items that you have decided can be bought in bulk are what you need to pay attention to here.
Where can you buy these items from in bulk and stock up on them for a month or so? You might have a restaurant wholesale store in your area or bulk food store?
Decide where you will buy from and buy a large amount each time.
Research prices vs quality & quantity available.
I will buy 10-20kg bags of rolled oats and flour (stoneground wholewheat). Brown rice in 10kg bags, nuts in 3kg bags and tinned tomatoes I buy a carton of 12 at a time.
PRODUCE, FRESH PRODUCE
I buy a lot of produce each week. Fruit and vegetables take up a whole lot of my fridge space.
FRUIT: Fruit for children’s lunches/snacks
VEGETABLES: Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Avocado, Zucchini, Onions, Cabbage, Broccoli, Beans, Carrots, Cauliflower, Herbs, Lettuce, Capsicum, Kumara
Lots of EGGS!! We go through nearly a tray a week (30) for our family of 4. Guestimate what you need and stock up weekly. Or maybe get a chicken!
GO TO FARMERS PRODUCE MARKET WEEKLY FOR FRESH FRUIT & VEGETABLES
Saturday Markets are your friend. We often don’t want to get up early on the weekend sometimes, but its the best thing if you can. I like having options for produce from different growers. And I most definitely prefer market prices!
Eventually, you get to have your favourites and build trust for the quality a particular grower will sell.
I don’t even bother with a fruit and vegetable list at the market anymore, I take cash and buy whatever is fresh and at the best price.
SUPERMARKET EVERY FEW WEEKS
BEEF / CHICKEN / COLD MEATS
The supermarket is the only place I get these items from because its the simplest option and they have the most selection and price options. I can get free-range chicken and free-farmed bacon, shaved ham & pork roast also.
I use an online butcher sometimes, and purchase meat every few weeks. This is because I prefer the quality and the price isn’t much different when I buy things on special. They also allow me to buy larger quantities at one time AND it is delivered to my door the following day. Bonus!
BUYING MEAT IN BULK
The only way I have been able to save on meat, ever, is to buy beef in bulk via home kill. This means we buy a cow, preferably grass-fed, and pay for it to be killed and processed to go in our freezer. Usually, it works out to be approximately 2/3 the price per kg if I buy at the store.
It is A LOT of meat, and we often only have room for half in our big deep freeze, so we sell the other half to friends or family.
This may not apply to some people if you don’t eat dairy products, but if it does then you will have to have a visit to your supermarket of choice. I do a fortnightly shop for dairy, cleaning and paper products. Dairy expires quickly, you can freeze it but I prefer to shop regularly for this.
Find your go-to place for best/cheapest dairy products that your family enjoys and visit every few weeks.
CLEANING, PAPER & SANITARY ITEMS
I tend to buy all my paper/cleaning/sanitary items at the same time as my dairy products.
I don’t store cleaning products in bulk amounts keeping the products in my cupboard minimal but what I do is buy large bottles at a time of what I need, like washing liquid in 2kg bottles, 2kg dishwasher powder, and 1-litre hand soap refill.
Keeping lots of toilet paper in the cupboard is essential in my mind because we can NEVER run out of toilet paper!
Make a list of what you need and highlight what you can buy in large quantities.
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Hand soap
- Dishwasher powder
- Washing Liquid
- General Cleaning products (if it comes in one large container)
- Personal Products
- Shampoo / Conditioner
- Body Soap
- Sanitary products
You only have to go to the supermarket every other week. That’s twice a month. MAX!
3 STEPS TO A MINIMALIST PANTRY
#1 Buy in bulk if you can and have a month worth in your pantry
#2 A regular weekly visit to your fruit and vegetable market
#3 One or two visits a month to the supermarket for chicken, dairy, paper & personal products