When I first started researching deepening the pantry it was from the emergency preparedness standpoint. This was long ago and the only place I could find info was basically in Mormon and survivalists books and magazines (and later online). While the information was good up to a point, I found most not to be practical.
Then I started reading more about homesteaders and how they "stocked up". That was where the best recommendations came from because these people lived from their pantry. (To be fair, the Mormon sites available online have become excellent, too.)
I figured the difference with the homesteaders was a "pantry lifestyle". The information received was practical and it worked... not just buying wheat and powdered milk or freeze dried food and stuffing it in a closet until TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it).
That's why I love blogs like Down to Earth and others on the sidebar. I read real stories and see real gardens and recipes and other "how to" articles... with pictures. :)
Although I don't have a deep pantry now, I will write from experience so pretend it is before my husband could no longer work... actually, we still live the pantry lifestyle but on a much limited basis... which proves anyone can keep a pantry!
We almost always bought for the pantry and then shopped the pantry for what we needed for that day (or week). The pantry way of thinking changes the way we shop for food and eventually changes the way we look at all our purchases.
As an example... say I have $75.00 to spend at the grocery store this week. I check the store fliers and see that split chicken breasts are 99 cents a pound, my favorite canned tomatoes are buy one get one free, and shredded mozzarella cheese is half price. I stock up on chicken, tomatoes, and shredded cheese as much as I can based on the essentials I also need. I do not usually buy any of these items full price.
For instance, I may have to buy two gallons of milk but not butter because I have plenty in the freezer (purchased on sale and frozen). I need oranges and lemons for recipes and I know I'll be needing to set back cash for tomatoes and melons at the farmer's market. I really want to stock up on the chicken so I decide to make all my bread that week and not purchase any... so most of my grocery budget can go to stocking up.
Another week I'll go through the fliers and not see anything at all I need for the pantry (although that didn't happen often) so I'll take extra money to the farmer's market and buy one or two quart container of honey to bring home and pour into recycled jelly jars. It becomes a seasonal priority since we can only purchase local honey from the honey man at the farmer's market between June and September.
Or... since I have money left over from the grocery budget that week... it will go in an envelope to save for the next co-op order for bulk items like oatmeal, lentils, or wheat (I started grinding wheat for health reasons in the 90s), etc.
During the holidays, I will purchase one or two bags of chocolate chips, sugar, or coconut each week when they are on sale. Then I'll notice a "stock up price" which is very low and I may purchase ten packages of chocolate chips or five bags of flour because it is quite cheap... always making certain the money budgeted for food or stock up (which includes TP, toiletry items, etc.) either gets spent then or gets set aside for the farmer's market, next week's specials, or the next co-op order. That is part of the secret of deepening the pantry... not spending stock up money on something else.
There may be a month where we have a huge bill for a car repair and we shop only for essentials at the grocery store and eat from the pantry. Or... we lose a job, or someone gets sick and can't work for a month, or there is a local or national emergency and we don't have to leave home... a hurricane watch, a winter storm watch, or the doctors are warning people to stay home due to a flu pandemic (don't laugh... they're talking more about doing that where I live since it was hit by the H1N1 virus during the spring).
It becomes a lifestyle that begins to affect all purchasing decisions... like stocking up on school supplies now while the stores have them as loss leaders (as well as crayons and pretty pencils for Christmas stockings)... or checking the end of season sales for clearance seasonal clothing.
I also use this way of shopping for Christmas and birthdays... always looking for an item a family member would love... often at a garage sale or thrift shop in its' original box... or a beautiful teacup and saucer for 99 cents from Goodwill... or a nice mug for 49 cents... to add to a Christmas basket with homemade food and drink.
At one time when Christopher was young and Stephanie still at home, I took extra money to the amusement park each summer knowing their gift shop had unique items both of them would enjoy in their Christmas stockings... one normally doesn't think of Christmas when it is 90 degrees in the shade. :)
It becomes "a way of seeing" (to borrow from an Edith Schaeffer book title).
So... how does this apply to special diets? Mostly by what we choose to store and knowing what foods one should and should not eat. A family who does not tolerate wheat products won't stock up on wheat or wheat flour. In my pantry, canned tomatoes are a priority but my daughter can't cook with tomatoes due to food sensitivities in the family.
As a diabetic, I must make certain I have high fiber and diabetic friendly items... oatmeal, lentils, beans, whole wheat, brown rice (stored in the freezer), good quality pastas... including those with whole grains added, canned veggies which are lower in carbs (more tomatoes and green beans... less corn), Splenda for my coffee, etc.
Baking at home becomes a priority for diabetics so they can lower sugar and increase fiber but it is healthier for everyone... thus, items for baking is a priority even for many families. (Believe me, when we went without an income for a year... two different years... the guys loved having a homemade bakery snack... it had a great affect on morale.)
Sigh... I really must do some housework. Believe it or not, there are more pantry ponderings that I'll write about next... :)
Picture: Cookbook and apples poster; allposters.com