Okay, you want to start a pantry but what do you do first? Other then starting a list like we chatted about yesterday? Decide what is most important to you. Do you want to begin putting back extra basic items for cooking or baking? Do you want to start a hospitality pantry... keeping extra items for last minute guests?
Perhaps a "cold and flu" pantry which contains canned chicken noodle soup, a few boxes of organic chicken stock if you prefer, packets of oyster crackers should nausea hit, perhaps extra tissues and cold-flu medicine... each will prefer their own.
Find a place to put your items. Mine is simply shelves in the garage and I keep paper and toiletry items in the shower we never used in the tiny bathroom (Manuela's brilliant idea... see link below). There are all kinds of creative ideas online for finding storage space if you want to deepen the pantry.
Then start purchasing one extra of a few items each week. I like to make certain I have basic cooking and baking items like butter (which is so cheap here right now, I wonder how the dairy farmers are surviving)... I place three one pound packages in a gallon Zip Loc bag and then put in the freezer, baking supplies, milk, oil (I prefer mild olive oil for baking but I've long ago had to switch to canola), etc.
Of course, coffee and tea are important in this household. For more specifics, I've written volumes in past Pantry Talks... the link to all of them (should anyone be interested) is on the sidebar.
If I have no extra money at all, I'll purchase only a couple of the most important items. That which I don't want to run out of if I can help it. Should I go to the grocery store and find an unexpected sale, that may change my priority. For instance, I now have five or six bags of my favorite King Arthur flour because I hit a great sale a few months ago.
By the way, did you know unbleached King Arthur flour has enough gluten that it makes a good loaf of bread... should you not have room to store both unbleached and bread flour? Since I have limited shelf space, I stopped buying separate bread flour when I found out about that fact.
Just this past week, on my birthday, we stopped by Target for Sasha's kibble (on sale) and one coffee. We noticed our favorite Viva paper towels were on an amazing sale... put the coffee back... and bought the paper towels.
When finances allow, I go through all the stores sales fliers and check for their loss leaders. Sometimes I'll purchase one or two of the most important items I find on sale. Other times, when I can spare the cash, I use these great sales to really deepen the pantry.
For instance, when I find a buy-one-get-one-free sale on my favorite canned tomatoes, I'll use $20.00 of my grocery money just for the tomatoes. I use them quite often and they are a priority when deepening the pantry is possible. This is how one can start to deepen their pantry even more. I'll write more about it next time.
There are some items I will only purchase on deep discount... like ice cream, sugar free Sierra Mist, Christopher's favorite Nutra Grain or granola bars, etc. (and I watch for coupons to combine with sales).
I also watch for seasonal deep discounted items. For instance, in the fall one can often find canned veggies at their cheapest, especially stores which have their own brand of canned goods. The new crop is being processed and the stores need the shelf space for them.
I used to purchase green beans at 4 for $1.00 around September. Last year they were 3 for $1.00 but still a good price when one's son mainly eats canned green beans for his veggies. You may want to write a reminder on your calendar around the time you want to start looking for seasonal sales.
There are some items available only at certain times of the year. I can only find cranberries during the Holidays so I buy them then, drop three bags at a time in a gallon size Zip Loc bag, and have them for recipes through the year. I even made room for about six bags of cranberries (in two gallon size Zip Loc bags) in my freezer when I didn't have a deep freeze.
Many homemakers already know that the best time to stock up on baking items is during the Holidays. I'll start buying extra as soon as they go on sale and purchase a little at a time throughout the season. Sometimes all I can afford is a couple bags of chocolate chips or an extra bottle of vanilla... but it adds up if I am consistent.
Oh, someone had asked what vanilla I use? It's Watkins that I wrote about before that I like and I used to purchase the large bottle of it once in awhile (I no longer can do that). Although I find even store brands are good as long as they are real and (ugh) not imitation. I would leave vanilla out rather than use the imitation.
Another seasonal item I purchase is honey from the "honey man" at the farmer's market toward the middle or end of the summer. I like to purchase a couple of the two quart sizes and pour them into recycled jelly jars... which is what I had a picture of in Part 1. I couldn't afford to purchase any honey at all last year so we used up all our supply for the first time I could remember. Normally I have some left before purchasing more each summer.
I mention our reduced ability to make purchases from time to time only to remind people... if I can keep a pantry... you can. :)
More later... now, you must read about Manuela's shower pantry... wait until you read this.
Picture: Three Hens With Coop; allposters.com