Saturday, September 27, 2008

Simple Saturdays: Simplifying the pantry

As you know, I like to write about having a pantry and stocking it up (now more than ever). So, I thought that would be a good subject this week for Simple Saturdays... how to do this as simply as possible. Since I don't have a lot of money or energy, I must keep it simple.

Here's the Cliff Notes version of starting and deepening a pantry.

First, start with your basic baking food supplies. I always try to keep well stocked on flours, various sugars, baking powder (check the expiration date before time to do Holiday baking), baking soda, spices, cooking oils, cake mixes purchased on sale, and any items that are needed for my favorite baked goods (chocolate chips and other types, nuts, dried cranberries and other dried fruits, etc. (I'm sure there is more but you get the idea, things I use a lot.)

To keep expiration dates simple, I restock the leaf herbs this time of year just purchasing one once in awhile for about six weeks. I don't keep many (mainly an Italian mix, Herbs de Provence, oregano, and dill). Check your paprika at the end of summer to make certain it hasn't gone bad. Otherwise, I purchase other spices when they've lost their fragrance and color... which could take years. I just wrote about cleaning up my baking pantry and checking items needed for Holiday baking a couple weeks ago.

For the freezer, I purchase meat on sale, veggies, fruits, butter, etc. and freeze them divided into huge Zip Lock bags so I can lift out say... the bag with chicken breasts... and see how many I have left and if I need to look for a sale soon (mailing labels are in the drawer with the freezer bags so I can date each bag). For the most part, packages brought home from the grocery store (whether meat, butter, some fruits, etc.) are dated and slipped directly into a one gallon or two gallon Zip Lock bag (which are reused over and over). Family size packages, some fruits and vegetables, etc. will be divided into smaller freezer bags before placing in the huge Zip Lock bags.

As for the remainder of the pantry... my canned goods and such. I just go through the recipes I use the most and I stock up on items when I find a good sale. I may spend $30.00 on canned tomatoes (which I use a lot of) or $20.00 on pasta but not have to purchase them again for months. I try to keep at least one extra of the basics, including items needed for my recipes, condiments, etc. Although I'm really into deepening the pantry whenever possible... especially these days!

One of my friends likes to use her deep freeze mostly for meals she has already prepared ahead of time rather than individual items for each recipe. I want to prepare more frozen meals but only a few. It's just easier for me to freeze the separate ingredients.

As for the refrigerator, mainly I make sure I have plenty of eggs (oldest carton on top, newest always put on the bottom) and milk. Eggs last a long time if kept in their original carton on a refrigerator shelf and not stored opened in the door.

I have written a lot about deepening the pantry in all those Recession Ponderings. It can be very complicated if you let it, I once had a friend who had her pantry inventory in Excel! Mine isn't that big so I can "eyeball" everything (except what is in the freezer) very easily. All I have to do is place the most recent purchases in the back and use the oldest from the front.

If you don't have a pantry set up, all that is needed to prepare one is to make some space (most of mine has to be in the garage) and look through your most used recipes. Believe me, having a deep pantry saves time, money, gasoline (when you don't have to run to the store for one item), and in times of crisis... gives you peace. It is insurance you can eat.

For more Simple Saturday posts, go to Passionate Homemaking this week. It is usually hosted by Keeper of the Home. I'm sure they would love for you to join in on Saturdays. I don't do many carnivals at all but I enjoy this one... because I enjoy simplifying!

I'm hoping there are no major typos. My blood sugar is still too high so my vision is a little blurry. At least that is what I can blame them on this time. :)


Anonymous said...

Loved this post, and every time I see a picture of your kitchen pantry cupboard I have to fight the urge to covet, lol. It's very sweet. :)

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I use Hungarian paprika because it is the most fragrant and the best and I keep it in the refrigerator door where moths never go. It lasts a long time.

Anonymous said...

This is the coolest idea, and one I definitely plan to use! I found this link from the simple saturdays blog post at passionate h'making.

Mary said...

Hi Brenda,

I am so glad you are feeling better. Don't overdo. You mentioned eggs keeping a long time in the carton in the frig. How long can they be safely kept? Could you leave your answer in a future post? I never miss a post but I don't always go back and read comments. Thank you!! Have a wonderful evening!

Rhonda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Liz said...

Good ideas!I have also heard that we should throw away our spices every year... But I don't think that my mom ever did that... So I keep mine.
I just try to use them in new recipes.


freddie said...

love the pictures... could it go on my desktop?

carolyn said...

Your pantry is wonderful, loved this post.
I do hope the blood sugar is under control now.

Lib said...

I just found your blog and Love it! I live the simple side of life and Love it.
We just expanded our pantry and love it.I stockpile for about a yr. I had just stocked piled before the prices went up:o) , I can,freeze and dry alot of our food.
Hope you have a Great sun. off to read more of your great Post!:o)

Suze said...

I'm hoping and praying you're alright and feeling better since you didn't post a Sunday Tea post like you usually do.

MommySecrets said...

I'm so glad you commented on my blog, so I could discover your blog! I love your post about the pantry, and it fits well with my post today. :)

Christy@MercyEveryMorning said...

Great post! I added it to my "Friday Faves" list of favorite blog finds from the past week.

Thanks! :)

Mrs. Tara said...

Thanks so much for sharing....... I loved the pictures. I need to check my spices....

have a wonderful weekend!