Monday, August 03, 2009

Pantry Talk - Thoughts on how I stock up Part 3

I don't think I've written very much about really, really deepening the pantry. Probably because I know most people don't have the space or financial ability to do so... or just don't want to spend the time it takes, for this is where it becomes essential to be organized.

However, having said that... it is also where you can save the most money and it becomes truly an "insurance plan you can eat" if necessary. I've been there, when we were able to have a deep pantry and it was so welcome during our first year with no income.

When one has a deep pantry, any money that does come in for food is able to go to milk, veggies, fruit, etc. Not to mention paying the utility bills.

This is also where I wasted money in the past but I always learned great lessons in what we would eat from the pantry, what we ended up not liking, where future pantry money should be prioritized, etc.

I can't keep a deep pantry now but those lessons learned "back then" are what I use now to make certain the small pantry has the most essential ingredients in it. While I almost always use up pantry items now, it is a priority to restock it when we have the ability.

What we have in our pantries will depend on our present circumstance a great deal... someone who cooks completely from scratch will store mostly basics while another who uses more convenience foods will make certain they are on the shelves. Most of us will have a combination of both... leaning more toward one or the other.

In my much smaller pantry, I keep basics such as the items needed for baking, soups, stews, pastas, casseroles, etc. Where I used keep about six months of most items and that is no longer possible, it is still fairly easy to stock one year's worth of such things as spices, salt, baking soda and powder, extracts, etc.

Basically one keeps the same things in their deepened pantry as they do on a much smaller scale... only more. How much more depends on your finances, your ability of space, and how much time you are willing to invest into planning and organizing.

I can tell you this... I used to save enough money by the small amount of work I had to put into the pantry that my "per hour wage" would have been significant. :)

It is essential when keeping a very deep pantry to keep it organized or you'll end up throwing things away. Believe me, time goes by much faster then you think so you must write the dates on items and find a way to store them so the latest purchased will go to the "back" of the shelves (so to speak, it may be the bottom box of canned goods or the "extra" corner of the cabinet). Just as location, location, location is key in real estate, so rotate, rotate, rotate is what a deep pantry is all about.

The best article I ever read about "stocking up" was during the 1990s (when people were talking about Y2k) about a homesteading family in Michigan's Upper Pennsylvania who had to stock up each year out of necessity.

I spent a long time looking for the article in my files this morning and couldn't find it but I did finally locate it online.... here. This is a great article to show how one family "thinks through" what they need in their pantry.

Of course, this doesn't include anything we grow or purchase to do our own home canning and freezing. Rural people in past generations (and many now) would not understand why we would even consider not having a pantry. :)

More pantry thoughts and links later... the buzzer is sounding on the clothes dryer and the timer in the kitchen will soon tell me my loaf of bread is baked. Although the aroma coming from the general area of the kitchen precedes the timer.

Hope this post makes sense, it truly is "off the top of my head". Well, except all that time looking up the article.


Packrat said...

People not only had pantries, but they also had root cellars where vegetables could be stored without them freezing. I had almost forgotten about the one at my grandparents' house. I was wandering around the other day and saw the lid. I'd be terrified to open it. LOL

scrappy quilter said...

Another great post with awesome info. having a well stocked pantry saved us a few years back when hubby was out of work. I can't speak highly enough of having a well stocked pantry. One of the best investments around.

You've been tagged!!

tpals said...

That was an informative article. I can't help but chuckle at the fuss there was leading up to Y2K, but the pantry lessons are timeless.

Mrs.B said...

Thanks for posting this article. I am feeding a family of 9 and it is hard to stock up but so neccesary. One thing that helps is if you cook mostly the same things Then you will know if you will use and you also get to know what is the absolute best deal on something.

Have a Blessed day.

~In HIS Keeping,

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I am very attracted to stocking up--I like to see large rows of baled hay for the same kind of feeling. It is a secure, warm feeling. However, my life is hectic, hectic, hectic and I find that when I try to keep a "deep" pantry, I simply don't have the time required for its management. I end up spending more, not less, I think. I have started cooking ahead, however, and keep things in the freezer in good-sized portions for our small household so we can just pop them in the microwave or put them on the stove top to re-heat. I think this saves me both time and money I woudl otherwise spend on fast food on the way home (not to mention those pesky calories). But thanks so much for keeping this in our minds. I greatly enjoy your posts. C.

Amber said...

You have a truly lovely blog. I'm adding you to my favorites!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

My husband made a compartment under our mudroom. You reached it by moving back the steps to the house from the garage and opening a little door. In plastic boxes there we stored all our pick your own apples and they stayed in good condition all winter.......I don't eat as many apples as he did! But this was an ingenious way to make a cold celler/root celler. My daughter has a small room in her basement that has no heat and is always cool for this sort of storage. People used also to store pumpkins in their attics, not touching one another.
This wasn't the comment I was going to make, but "packrat" brought these memories back to me.

Anonymous said...

We have always had a pantry of sorts. Small house and small kitchen so things had to go where ever they could. I keep a notebook of what is where. Also keep a running list of each item...example corn. If corn is more than one place each place is written down and how many there and dates. Each item has a space in the notebook. It wasen't as hard to do as I thought it would be. Some things had to just be stored in grocery bags for a while but I drew a big number the bag on the outside and added that number on the list so I would know if the said corn was in it and so on. I wish I had more space. We still find good sales and it is hard to have to pass them up if I have some extra grocery money. I go green with envy when I see the women on the web who have a whole room for their pantry. :) To be able to keep it all together and organized sowell!! In my childhood work was sometimes scarce and also illness in the family made it so we were without and having the pantry makes me feel secure in that way too. Also I love being home rather than out and about. The pantry keeps me home and happy. Jody

Anonymous said...

I just read the Y2K article. Good information. We were already keeping a pantry before that but I sure remember the fuss back then. Better safe than sorry. I can but have not tried canning meat yet. Some even say you can can butter but I also read recently that that is a Big no no. You've got me thinking pantry! I have a few things in it that are close to their dates so I will get them out and incorporate them in this weeks meals! Thanks! :) These days I have been adding to the pantry as the garden is giving us plenty to can! Better get back to it too! Jody