Thursday, September 29, 2011
The importance of building up our own food pantry
I have told you that we have gone to a few food pantries each month now since the nurse who helped me with my nutrition plan a few years ago suggested it. I hadn't even considered food pantries but they do help subsidize our budget. What we can't use that we are given, we take to the food pantry in our church (like white bread and white rice, sugar coated cereal, etc.).
My husband recently was asked to take part in a study about food pantries and how they can be improved. One thing he told them in every meeting was the need to have more consideration about nutrition.
So often half (or more) of the foods they give are cheap for them to purchase but not very high quality in the nutrition department. There are seasons when they have fresh vegetables to offer (and God bless those farmers and gardeners who give the pantries what they have extra!).
That is one of the reasons I use any "extra" money I have to deepen my own home pantry. As with almost everything, people are far more efficient than the government. I'd say about everything except I wouldn't be good at putting together a military and the money I'd print would send me straight to prison (with no "Get Out of Jail Free" card). ;)
There is also the obvious problem with depending on the government in a crisis. We've seen it over and over (think... Katrina!) that the government is a huge bureaucracy which can only move slowly and not efficiently when a crisis hits. When we are prepared for a crisis, unemployment, etc. then our personal needs are met with items we know and trust and without waiting for someone to come knocking at the door.
I'd say the generation before mine was the first to not stock up seasonally and even then there were still a large number of people who still knew the importance of the home pantry, root cellar, etc. It is not something we do out of fear or to hoard but I truly believe it is instinctive... a God given feeling within us which has been there since we were in the Garden... not any different than noticing the change of seasons and putting the hay in the barn for the animals.
As I've said so many times you are now rolling your eyes and sighing... stocking up on food is insurance you can eat... and with inflation rising as it is... stocking essential nonfood items will save you money in the long run. Not to mention being organized and knowing you don't have to run to the store in the middle of a recipe because you don't have enough sugar or flour on the shelves.
Using what you have now to prepare for tomorrow is a wise investment. When you think through and write down the food and essential items you need, it forces you to become wise about your purchases (and your nutritional needs!). As you find good sales on essentials and buy for less, you are stretching your family's food budget and providing a little extra for which to purchase essentials which do not go on sale.
By stocking up in season, you are like generations for thousands of years that gave thought about their food and their supplies... those which were ready for winter's cold and hard times. It's a part of our very nature... the squirrel-like part of us. :)
While government run programs are helpful, they are not the best and if you are like us... we don't even qualify for most and I'd just as soon not depend on the government regardless. Neither government run nor faith based food pantries can provide for your family the same way you can. They must use limited funds to feed the most people possible and that often means cheap, high carb foods.
What if hard times never come knocking at your door? The worst that can happen is that you have become organized about your food and essentials and purchased at good prices (when possible). However, so many "experts" I trust see dire economic outlooks ahead. How good it will be if you have already put thought into essentials of food and non-food items your family needs and have started stocking up a little at a time.
I can't afford a great deal but I can use "extra" money to purchase essentials. I've written the How I Stock Up series which explains how I do it but basically I have decided those items which help me put together meals for the family, even if I cannot purchase anything "extra". I also give thought to items we can use if we have no electricity for cooking (and this year we have had a couple long term blackouts due to weather).
It can be a great family project, getting everyone together and brainstorming what each considers important. Just a few items I always try to keep on hand: canned tomatoes, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, Triscuits and other crackers, canned veggies, canned salmon and other meats like tuna and chicken, brown rice, flours, sugars, other baking needs, butter in the freezer (at least a couple extra packages), etc.
When I have a few of the basics on the shelves, I buy the second "layer" that I know will be helpful. For instance... good quality granola bars (the kind that are more than a candy bar), canned fruits, chocolate chips and nuts for baking, very good jelly and jam (we watch for no high fructose corn syrup when possible), etc. I also try to keep at least a couple gallons of good water on the shelf but more would be even better.
Then there are extras of essentials that are also only purchased when we can but are so important to have on hand... TP (there is nothing that says friendship as when your friends bring you a big package of TP, right Linda?), dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, batteries, paper towels (high quality, it does not pay to buy really cheap paper towels or TP), garbage bags, etc.
Of course, we also have to think of those items Her Highness Victoria would need such as kibble and kitty litter and those items we may not buy often but we'd miss if we didn't have them such as the cream for muscle aches, Benedryl, pens and pencils and paper and stuff like that, etc.
As one develops a pantry mentality, it begins to affect all areas of life. For instance, I found having a small DVD library helpful when we had no other TV reception. My DVD collection is tiny compared to most because putting together a home library of books was the priority for decades.
Should we reach a point where we know we have what we consider "plenty"... we not only can take care of our own family in a crisis but we may be in a position to help those close to us who do not live in our home. Stocking up when it is done as a natural part of the seasons and not out of fear for the future... developing that pantry lifestyle... will keep us from being dependent on the government.
I don't know about you but to me that is a very, very good thing. We purchase insurance for our house and cars and for that I am thankful. We really appreciated having a fire department this summer! But when we can do something, even if just a little (and right now my husband and I can stock up only a little)... everything helps whether the crisis is an unexpected winter storm or a job loss or economic collapse.
It doesn't have to be the perfect pantry, start now a little at a time and stock only what your family will eat. (Believe me, kids who do not eat beans will not eat beans in a crisis.)
I hope this makes sense, I'm truly writing as I think... and that can be very dangerous with my thinking. ;)