Monday, July 27, 2009

Pantry talk - those little items which make a big difference

Beautiful veggies from the garden

After writing what a friend's dad told Christopher about "stocking guns and food", I read a couple more financial e-mails that came in. Both said they expect the economy to get worse before it gets better (and if war breaks out in the Mideast... watch out for sky rocketing oil prices).

I understand what the investment counselor meant about gold. If one has enough money they need to protect, gold is a good hedge against inflation and the devaluing of the dollar.

However, I also understand why he told him food and other necessities are a priority and can be "cash" in an emergency.... hmmm, is the financial counselor suggesting we prepare for bartering?

For the next few days I thought I'd share experiences from the times I deepened the pantry more than usual. I'm still mostly living out of the pantry (as cash is limited) so I'm learning more each week. It makes all the difference in the world when your pantry and freezer is all you have to shop from and a quick trip to the grocery store is not an option.

I'm also learning even a small garden is absolutely beneficial. :)

I keep a grocery list just to write down those items I need for the pantry. When I have the money to restock, that list becomes my pantry priority list. It includes regular pantry items I'm beginning to run out of, items I realize would be good to add to the pantry, and it is at my side when I go through recipes to see what I will need in the pantry for a particular recipe.

I stock the usual foods one would expect... those basics needed for baking and cooking. But once in awhile I find a new item that should be stocked. For instance, I use fresh mushrooms for most recipes but I couldn't purchase any. It would have been great to have mushrooms on the pantry shelf. The recipes just weren't the same without them (canned would have been far better than none at all). So canned and dried mushrooms went on the pantry grocery list.

Mostly I use my pantry money for basic groceries but if I see a favorite gourmet item on sale... and I have most of my basic items on the shelf... I'll add it to the pantry. For instance I love lemon infused olive oil and it is on my pantry shelf when I can find it at a good price, not something you'll find in the average Stocking Up book.

It's exactly the reason I stock some items which may seem unimportant... but I've found in the past useful for certain recipes. For instance, I always have small cans of sliced black olives on the shelves. I added them to my pantry grocery list during a time such as this when I realized they would add "just the right flavor" to a couple of other pantry items.

Those little extras we choose to stock will be as individual as our menus, heritage, and favorite foods. My mother had pickled pigs feet in her pantry. I do not. :)


jAne said...

excellent post, Brenda. :o)

oh. and the pickled pigs feet would NOT be found in my pantry either. canned beets though? YES. :o)

jAne at

Vee said...

We're eating from the pantry right now, too. Thank God for pantries! Also, I'd rather have food than gold. After all, there is a day coming when bread will buy a bag of gold. That gold isn't so tasty. Thanks for all you do in raising awareness, Brenda.

Packrat said...

Brenda, thank you for validating what I try to do. Even when I can run to the grocery store, I don't like to take the time. It is so nice to just walk into the pantry. It also saves more than time; it saves money. One isn't tempted to buy those day old doughnuts or ...

Be sure to add bottled/canned juices and bottled water to your pantry. Use the bottled water for emergencies.

Guns. Touchy subject, but we may need those guns to protect ourselves. Those that have nothing are going to want what we have. They won't ask; they'll just take (whether we're willing to share or not).

Mrs.Rabe said...


What a helpful pantry post! I do need to stock a few more items! I do most of our cooking from scratch as well, so it is vital to have those items we use a lot on hand.

I also enjoyed yesterday's post. How lovely for Stephanie to be "visiting" two of my favorite English ladies - Jane Austen and Charlotte Mason! It is the trip of a lifetime and I am delighted for her.

Anonymous said...

I have certain things that need to be in my pantry, also. Since my husband comes from an Italian family, we have lots of home-canned tomatoes, and several cans of tomato paste on the shelves. And of course, plenty of pasta! I always make sure my Italian spices are on hand,as well.

Other items that I stock up on are canned milk (in case I run out of fresh and need it for a recipe), cheap cans of cream soups to throw a casserole together in a hurry, canned salmon for salmon loaf/patties, canned pumpkin for bread, muffins, pies,etc. I also stock various canned beans to be used in chili, rice & beans, soups, baked beans, and mexican dishes.

This post has made me think it is time to do an inventory of my pantry and see what needs to be used up and what needs to be replenished. Thanks, Brenda!

Pom Pom said...

I think I need a bigger pantry.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Hi Brenda, Great post. I want to share a simple recipe for summer squash or zuchinni in the Hungarian style. Grate about 3 cups of squash. Briefly saute a medium chopped onion with the squash. Add about a good handful of finely chopped dill (good to grow qand will usually reseed itself for several years!). Add water to cover generously and simmer about an hour or 45 minutes until tender.Add 1/2 to a whole cup of sour cream. Serve with joy. This is a different take on our prolific squash and we love it.

Kimberly said...

Um--just can't do pickled pigs' feet either!
BTW-I found this for you:
It tells you how to make the lemon olive oil at the bottom. :)

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Brenda, It seems as if I remember your mentioning a good brand of vanilla extract. Can you help me out on this? For a million years, we just used the imitation (I know, I know), but the "real stuff" just seemed so expensive.

Becky K. said...

No pickled pigs feet for me either. However, I do stock up as often as I find things on sale.

It is comforting to know that should a flu pandemic break out, or some other event happen we would be alright for a bit.

I can't bring myself to prepare for months...but weeks...yep!
It just feels like the responsible thing to do.

Becky K.
Hospitality Lane

Anonymous said...

Please ask Stephanie to say hello to Beatrix Potter for me while she is in the Lake District.

Friend Debra

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who has never heard of lemon infused olive oil? :) How is it used? I just thought you'd use the olive oil then add a touch of lemon juice the infused must be special. Inform me please. :) I find mushrooms marked down. The ones packed in the little individual produce boxes. We have found all kinds marked down. We get extra and freeze or dry them when you find them. I heard people say they try to bring their meals up a notch. They try to imitate the resturant dishes for their families. If they can't or don't want to eat out they can still have that special food at home. I am trying this. We are eating out of the pantry too. The reason is partially so we can use up some of it before dates and get more to replace it! I love Kristi's comment to serve it with joy! We have been enjoying sharing our gardens bounty...and eating it too of course!! :) Jody

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

True confession: When I was little my father ate pickled pigs feet, and I joined right in...I loved them! Would NOT EVEN THINK about eating them now. Ugh! Must all be in the head...cause I sure ate them as a child! C

Anonymous said...

Did the financial emails reference to any web sites? Can you share these e mails with us? I've been hearing things along this line and would love to read more on the subject. Thanks!


Kimberly said...

Just wanted to give another example of how a pantry (&freezer) can be a blessing. I received an email yesterday afternoon from a person in the group I meet with once a month saying she couldn't host us this evening. I emailed Sweetheart and asked him if he was ok with me having everyone over to our home. He said yes and so I've been able to pull together a dinner for twelve without going to the store.

It will be grilled chicken I bought a ton of when it was on sale, grilled squash I had from this weekend, brown rice from my 50 lb bag and salad mostly from the garden and a nearby farm we went to last week. I'm doing my scones I just posted about and will have everything up and ready in a few more hours when everyone arrives.

I couldn't have done this if I didn't have a pantry. There was no time to go to the store at all. The short notice helped me to use what I have and no spend any extra. So nice! Thanks for all your encouragement in this area!

Carrot Top said...

I have internet access for 2 days and am so enjoying being able to catch up with you and learn along with you again!

Do you use favorite recipes as a guideline for what to consider "basic" items to have in your pantry?

I ask this because I keep flour, sugar, dried beans... that sort of thing on hand, but then when I go to cook "all" I'll need is a can of chilis or mushrooms or fresh lemon, usually just one item for a specific recipe. How do you know which items are important? Is it by the frequency they are used?

Thanks, Bren! It's good to "see" you again!