My mother-in-law kept a very deep pantry and had a garden... she never learned to drive so she liked having "plenty" at home. :)
I've also written that I used to be an administrator of an emergency preparedness website where I met many precious people (Hi, Carrot Top... glad to "see" you in the comments!). I learned so much from the research I had to do for that position.
Everything I write now is based on past experiences as well as present, even though I can no longer keep a very deep pantry... I know how to stock one as I did when I had more income and a bigger house... so I will continue to share from all the experiences.
Here is how I choose the priorities for pantry purchases...
- Basics for cooking and baking I always use
- Items included in my favorite recipes
- What is especially inexpensive due to seasonal sales
- Items included in recipes I want to try soon
- Items I want to keep on hand for hospitality purposes
- Items I'll need for specific holidays, birthdays, and other event
As I have a good supply of basics, I'll add those extras I like to have in the pantry for baking and cooking. For instance, even though I like a good olive oil and I believe it to be very healthy, my priority will be canola oil as I can use it for everything. Then, when I have extra money to spend stocking up, I'll purchase items like olive oil which are important but not essential.
Further down on the priority list would be items like dried cherries and currents, chopped pecans, good quality chocolate chips, my favorite organic chicken stock, etc. Those items I can live without but I do enjoy having on hand when possible.
The first way I stock the pantry is simply purchasing extra of what I use the most. It is the easiest way to begin a pantry. It is also how I purchase items when my budget is really tight as it is now. I even ran out of coffee recently... yikes.
I decide what priorities I need to stock up on first and when I purchase one item, I also purchase at least one or two extra for the pantry... continuing to purchase extras over time until I have "put back" what I can given space and funds available.
When I had a larger house and income, I enjoyed keeping about three months worth of most basics (and six months of bulk items) in my pantry... which was an extra room in our semi-finished basement.
Priority is given to items like flour, sugars, honey (I'm out now but I hope to purchase some from "the honey guy" at the farmer's market soon), other basic baking items, pastas, canned tomatoes, canned veggies and fruit, butter and meat and veggies to freeze, vegetable and olive oil... etc.
I keep a "stock up" list which includes everything I want to keep in the pantry or freezer... even if I can't. I've revised it over the years and it's essential to those times when I have a little extra to spend in stocking up. I add to it when I find something new on the grocery shelves or in a recipe that I'd like to keep in the pantry.
I also have a "pantry grocery list" on the side of the frig for those items I'm either out of or nearly out that I need to purchase soon at the grocery store. I transfer what I can purchase next to the regular grocery list.
More soon (hopefully!)...