3.) Meats. Carnivores should consider keeping a whole roaster chicken in the freezer; roast it once and use the leftovers umpteen different ways. Boneless and skinless legs and thighs are great for curries and stir-fries. A pork roast can be cut into thin steaks and quickly pan fried for a last-minute meals. Have ground beef or turkey for pasta sauces, soups, and chili, and Italian sausage for slicing into pasta or tossing on the grill; stock up on other, more expensive cuts of meat when they're on sale. Of the deli meats, I find ham to be the most versatile, so we stash extra in the freezer.
4.) Juices. Kids might love grape or apple juice, but orange juice is the winner when it comes to nutrition. Added bonus: It works great in sauces and adds zing to stews. Lemon juice can be used to make homemade lemonade, as a marinade for meat, or as a base for salad dressing.
5.) Canned goods. The truly frugal among us would keep dried beans on hand; personally, I never seem to remember to soak them in advance, so I keep several different types of canned beans handy (red kidney, white cannellini, garbanzo/chickpea, and black beans) for throwing into rice, adding to chili, or making hummus. The other canned item my pantry can't do without: chicken stock, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and pineapple in juice. Why pineapple? The kids eat it as a lunchbox treat, but the juice is great in a marinade and the fruit makes for an easy cobbler dessert.
6.) Fresh fruits and vegetables. Apples and bananas are inexpensive and available all year around, so they're my go-to fruits. Ounce for ounce, sweet potatoes pack the most nutritional punch of any vegetable, plus you can store them for ages and they taste delicious. I also keep onions, regular potatoes, garlic, and carrots on hand all the time; pick your green veggies based on what looks best (and is most affordable) in the produce aisle -- we usually buy broccoli and green beans.
7.) Frozen foods. I freeze a lot of food, but I buy very little that's already frozen. Peas and corn are the exceptions, because they taste just as good as fresh and are easy to find. Optional frozen foods at my house include vanilla ice cream, dino-shaped chicken nuggets (not frugal, not all that health, but as far as my 4-year-old is concerned, totally necessary), frozen hash browns (great for quick breakfasts), and frozen strawberries (for smoothies).
8.) Spices. You can transform any dish simply adding the right seasoning, and you can make several versatile rubs and sprinkles with these basics: salt, pepper, oregano, basil, garlic powder, cumin powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, cloves, cayenne pepper, paprika, Old Bay seasoning, Grill seasoning.