Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pantry Talk - Thoughts on how I stock up Part 1

As I've mentioned many times before, both my mother and my mother-in-law had a pantry so my husband and I took to this lifestyle naturally. (It is not surprising that both mothers came from rural families and each went through the Great Depression.)

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
I use my grocery list as the basis of what I stock up first. Mine is a basic list I typed and printed, which has changed over the years. I know the ingredients listed there (as well as toiletry and household products) are what I use the most and must have priority for space and budgeting.

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!)...


Lisa Richards said...

Loved the post!

We have some friends who gave us a whole lot of dried kidney beans which they had left from their Y2K stockpiles. We cheerfully accepted them. We'll always have beans to eat!

I never seem to have extra $ for stocking up, but these freebies are wonderful!

I am freezing some zucchini and greens from my garden. I also want to try my hand at making marmalade.

Thanks for taking the time to describe your pantry stocking methods. It's inspirational!

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh when I saw you use the word "yikes". It pops out of my mouth frequently but I never hear anyone else say it!

Friend Debra

Connie said...

Very interesting reading. thanks for all your advice.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Good post Brenda. It's important to know what we (each individual) actually uses often and make sure we stock up on that.OTH, I am organizationally challenged and just had to throw out some frozen turkey from 2007. It was weirdly gray and I was absolutely afraid to use it. I have to figure out a way that works for me to make sure this doesn't happen again!

tpals said...

Your pantry posts are my favorites! Thanks for expanding on it.

DarcyLee said...

Thanks for these posts, Brenda. Very helpful.

Pom Pom said...

Thanks, Brenda. I'm considering a nifty piece of kitchen furniture to use as a pantry. Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

We have an itty-bitty pie safe in our tiny tiny kitchen...the former owners had a small table, actually a bristo type table for two people. Anyhoo...I've got it filled with just "stuff"....and I now plan on using it for a tiny pantry...thanks to you! (LOVE the sunlight filtering through the jars of honey.)

Elizabeth said...

Hi! Visiting from the Pleasures of Homemaking blog. You have some great ideas :)

The Pleasures of Homemaking said...

Good post as usual! I'm glad you mentioned the olive oil/canola oil. This is something that I struggle with all the time! Should I go ahead and buy the healthiest thing or should I save some money and buy the next healthiest thing and so on! I almost use olive oil exclusively (for baking even) but it's soooo expensive.

I think I'm just going to have to face facts and not buy as much as I have in the past (we're having a bit of a budget crunch because of lots of emergencies this year that required dipping into our savings)! So we need to build it back up.

Thanks for taking the time to write these posts. They're very helpful even to me who's been keeping a pantry since forever!


Elizabeth said...

Great information! Thanks for sharing!