Friday, October 15, 2010
Why I believe in deepening the pantry
My original online experience was in emergency preparedness so I must admit to having quite strong opinions on the subject. Which is why I dislike lists which tell you to purchase "this" one week and then "that" the following. I know people who stocked up in such a way for Y2k and ended up tossing out or giving away expensive food because they stocked what other people ate and not what their family used.
(Speaking of Y2k, I have never understood why people mock those who stocked up for the possible problems when even the experts were uncertain if the original computer codes were corrected in time. One buys insurance, hoping they never have to use it and deepening the pantry is simply insurance one can eat, if done correctly.)
I personally believe it is very important to deepen our pantry as much as we feel "led" to do so, understanding we all have limitations of available money, space, time, etc. But not being able to do all we want should never stop us from doing what we can... speaking as one who is very limited in funds to spend as well as space.
But there is a difference between simply deepening our pantry, stocking more than we need for our immediate needs, then what would be termed food storage (ugh... which rarely works). I learned that lesson from listening to people on my former website as they stocked up with food and supplies from the various lists going around online and in books and not from the most important list... that being their grocery list.
We do not store food just for an emergency, with the exception of some items one may want to buy for long term storage "just in case". For instance, regular powdered milk has a very limited shelf life but the same powdered milk especially packed for long term storage will last for five to twenty years (often guaranteed for five years but some have opened after twenty year to find it useable).
The only "commercial" buttons I have on the sidebar are the Amazon widget and one that says Preparedness Pantry which is located immediately above my Deepening the Pantry links. If you click on that "button" (which changes now and then to advertise specials), it takes you to Emergency Essentials, a company I always found a good place to order specially prepared food and emergency supplies. I make no money from them, nor do I receive any credit... the button is simply there as a recommendation to those who want to order preparedness items.
I haven't ordered from them for years but they were then (and are now) known for exceptional customer service and quality (and there have been a lot of companies in the food storage business whom one could not trust). If you are at all interested in some form of being prepared for any emergency, they offer not only food prepared for long term storage but various supplies which would be very welcome at such a time.
Another great company which offers unique items is Lehmans (link... here). I have purchased oil lamps and lamp oil from them. They just recently published a new catalog. Lehmans sells to the Amish community as well as we "English". :)
As I've written quite often, when you deepen your pantry with at least one "extra" item that you use all the time... you save money and time. You are not running to the store in the middle of a recipe or at night when you find you are out of toilet paper or cold medicine! Shudder...
When one decides to deepen the pantry so the family has enough in case of a job loss, natural disaster, man made disaster, etc., one simply continues to purchase more of the essential items until they have enough... and then they rotate by using the oldest first and the newest goes to the back of the shelves or whatever space has been allotted.
When I was able to deepen the pantry as I liked (having enough budgeted money and space), I would often have a year's worth of wheat since I purchased it only once or twice a year (and I do grind wheat for bread). I would have a few months worth of oats for oatmeal and cooking, purchased from my food co-op in bulk. I may have three months worth of canned tomatoes, pasta, flour, baking items, etc. which are the basis for my menus. Then there may be a couple of weeks worth of some items which would be considered luxuries.
Before Y2k, I deepened my pantry more than usual and learned from the few mistakes I made at the time. For instance, I stocked up on some processed foods which my family never eats and ended up giving some of them away while others worked just fine. (My son and I actually like Spam... no, really... we do.) ;)
One of the recommendations in many books about stocking up is to purchase in bulk, which works fine for some but when one has a smaller family... it is not always the best. I found out storing dried beans purchased wholesale did not work for my family but I used all of my beans purchased in meal size bags... go figure.
While the power never went out, we did end up being unemployed and used just about everything on the shelves. Having the pantry so deep meant we did not have to apply for food stamps, which at the time one had to go through Social Services who were not always the most favorable to homeschooling. I don't know if they would have given us any problems but I was quite happy not to have an additional concern on top of unemployment.
I've developed a pantry lifestyle (having been raised with such a mindset from childhood) so it comes easily, even on an extremely limited budget. I have my own list of priorities for the pantry, beginning with staples such as oil, butter (slipped inside zip-lock bags and frozen), baking supplies, coffee, coffee, coffee, tea, etc. through nonfood items such as paper goods, medicine, cleaning products, etc. I do like to read lists on other people's websites, blogs, books, etc. for ideas I may have overlooked.
I've talked before about my friend in New Mexico whose grocery store shelves were nearly empty when trucks were rerouted to the Gulf after Katrina hit. One would not expect to live in the desert and feel the affects of a Gulf Coast hurricane. Fortunately, she is one who keeps a deep pantry and ran out of only a few essentials... and even then was quite upset she let their pantry get so low on those items.
I personally believe with our economy and so many other sections of our culture being rather unstable, everything we spend to deepen the pantry and prepare for any emergency will a good thing. No one can do it all... but everyone can prepare even a little if we try to work around store sales.
Just this week, I was at Kroger and they had cream cheese on their 10 for $10.00 sale (mix and match with other foods) as well as Progresso soups 10 for $10.00. So I stocked up on those two items even though it meant having less money for other grocery items I didn't need as much right then. Except Edie's peppermint ice cream... I had to have some of that... really... it jumped in my cart.
Last week I purchased four cans of pumpkin for the pantry. Next week I may notice flour is on sale and as I'm getting low on my supply, I may purchase two or three bags for the pantry. When there was more money available, I would notice my favorite King Arthur flour was on sale and purchase at least six bags (rotating for freshness, of course).
By having a priority list for the pantry and purchasing on sale whenever possible, it works so much better than seeing on a list that I am to buy veggies this week when none are on sale. It also means I am prioritizing limited funds for what we need the most (I use a lot of cream cheese and I like to have chicken noodle soup on the shelf for when we have cold or flu symptoms and I don't feel like making soup from scratch).
There are lots and lots of resources on the sidebar for anyone wanting to read more about deepening the pantry. There are sites one can visit as well as links to articles by people who have stocked up for years on a budget.
I don't know anyone who has deepend their pantry with items their family eats (and products used) who was not very happy to have extra when it was needed. Don't forget your furry friends when stocking up!
Added Note: Of course, a wonderful frugal way to deepen our pantry is to garden and do our own canning and freezing and drying and smoking (ummm... that being smoking meat and fish and not other things one would grow at home). ;)