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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

campus student life

How to stock a pantry


One hurdle any college student must jump over is that first grocery trip. It’s a daunting moment for anyone, but especially so if you’ve only recently started grocery shopping for yourself. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you don’t have a hefty sum of cash sitting in your bank account, ready to be withdrawn at a moment’s notice to support a regular visit to Fresh Thyme or another expensive establishment. 

So, if you do fit said criteria, here are some tips I’ve accrued in my time grocery shopping on a budget. 


Pasta, pasta, pasta — I cannot stress this first item enough. Pasta noodles of all shapes are some of the cheapest items you can find in a grocery store — at Kroger, you can get a 16 ounce box for only $1. And the possibilities here are endless. You can top it with alfredo,tomato or meat sauce for a quick meal; pair it with diced chicken thighs, ground beef or Italian sausage for a hearty dinner or any number of other ideas that come to mind.  


White and brown rice make a fantastic side dish by themselves but also wonderful starts to a one-skillet meal, a risotto or even a simple fried rice plate that  will impress any guest. If you’re on a particularly tight budget — trust me, we’ve all been there — a bowl of white rice cooked with butter, maybe garnished after with a bit of sugar, is a sweet and filling childhood favorite of mine that is about as cheap of a dish as you could possibly make. 

Canned Soup 

Contrary to other points I’ve been making on this list, I will encourage you to make these meals straight from the can. There’s no shame in buying several — read, five or more — cans of Campbell’s soup of different varieties. As I write this, I have a tomato soup, a cream of mushroom, and a cream of chicken in my pantry. Cooking it on the stovetop helps romanticize it a bit more, but it’s also totally valid to stick it in the microwave on those nights you just don’t have time to cook. 

Spices and produce 

When stocking your pantry, make sure not to neglect the smaller, but very important, ingredients that’ll serve as the glue holding your budgeted dishes together. It’s expensive at first, but investing in various spices, like cinnamon, parsley, oregano, minced garlic and, of course, salt and pepper, will improve your plates so much. If you really want to take your dishes to the next level, look into buying produce, especially those that can be stored dry like onions, potatoes and garlic.  

This article is part of the Spring 2024 Housing & Living Guide, an IDS special publication.

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