Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pantry Ponderings

A few years ago I started a series called Recession Ponderings (the link to them is on the sidebar).  I think it is a good idea to start a conversation and call it Pantry Ponderings and I'm sure your comments will be just as valuable as anything I can say.  :)

It has been in the back of my mind for awhile but a conversation this past week with my good friend who lives in New Mexico brought it from "perhaps I should" to "yes I will" status.

We first met on the emergency preparedness site where I was an administrator in the 1990s (many of my very best online friendships started there with some becoming "sister friends").  So you must understand that we both have leaned toward the TEOTWAWKI mode (The End of the World as We Know It) for decades.  Blame it on growing up in the shadow of "The Bomb".  ;)

Anyway, we started talking about the increase in the cost of gas and how that affects our food prices (not to mention how the crazy weather in some parts of the country caused increases in cost).  Then I brought up what is going on in the Persian Gulf right now and she wondered if the nation as a whole realizes what would happen if (and some experts are saying "when" not "if") there is even a minor confrontation.

Then the cost of gas will sky rocket and everything affected by oil... which is just about everything these days... will first become more expensive and then will probably result in shortages as it did in the 1970s... and worse if it turns into a full scale Middle East war even if the United States and Europe are not directly involved.

How can one just chat away for an hour over doom and gloom predictions?  Well, we've been talking about such things as deepening the pantry and preparing for emergencies for eons now... since the world was in the cooling stage.  Okay, not quite so long but long enough.

We aren't afraid for two reasons, the first and most important being a deep and abiding trust in the Lord.  We are both firm believers that we are living in the exact time and place in which He planned.  We also have been through a lot of stuff through the years and we've seen Him provide miraculously.

The second reason is also what we have learned, that developing a pantry lifestyle and preparing the best we can with limited funds available... helps us to face whatever God allows in our future.

Neither of us can have the very deep pantry we did years ago but we have the next best thing (perhaps even better in some ways)... we have experience.  Both of us can go into the kitchen on any given day and whip up dinner from what is available.  It may not be steak and a locally grown salad but we can add herbs and spices to make it tasty.

We both have learned how to do so many things ourselves instead of paying others to do them as circumstances forced us to stay with the program through the difficult learning curve days.  Our lessons were different in some ways as she lives on a homestead in the desert and God once placed us just a few miles from Metro Detroit (where we lived on 9/11!).

I was pondering this idea of experience being as important as say... stocking up... this morning after stopping by the grocery store.  I passed by the refrigerated aisle that contained premade sandwiches and such when I saw a bag of eighteen (18!) hard boiled eggs which had their shells removed.

I was curious about how much they were asking for the eggs and was quite shocked to see a price of $4.99... for 1 1/2 dozen eggs!

Now, I do understand that many of the people who would shop in this store are most likely two career couples who need fast instead of frugal.   I've been there myself so I feel their pain of time restraints.  But I also know how very difficult it was to change from buying mode to doing mode when the money became an issue.

Soooo... I plan to do a few pantry posts for awhile even if it means going back and reviewing some past posts.

By the way, so many readers asked why I don't participate in some of the fun tea time events on other blogs (many I read and enjoy) but it is for this very reason.  I used to take part in such links for tea time and books and other "close to my heart" subjects but Coffee Tea Books and Me jumps all over the place... it is about my entire life!

My numbers would jump by a lot and then plunge within a week as I went from tea time to deepening the pantry and then to books and taking a few days for decorating and then showing off pictures of grandchildren along with chatting about my cat and my family... etcetera.

So now I just write about my life and stay in wonderment that anyone reads at all (it has to be the pictures of Miss Victoria!).

Oh... this question always comes up when I do a pantry post... no, I am not a Mormon.  They have great preparedness information, though!

Picture:  Housewife Checking Points for new Rationing System


Mrs.Rabe said...

I am in agreement with you on stocking a pantry. I am so thankful too, for my missionary training which taught me how to live without refrigeration, to can foods including meat, and to be able to make a home anywhere!

I have learned to make laundry soap, my own buttermilk ranch dressing, we cook from scratch, and have a garden.

I like living this way, with my modern conveniences but I also like knowing that I know how to care for me family in difficult times.

I love these kinds of posts!


The Working Home Keeper said...

I've read your other posts about deepening the pantry. And look forward to your new posts on the subject!

I've been thinking about stocking up lately as well. But, I'm always torn on the matter. Should I use the extra money from our grocery budget to build up our stockpile? Or should any extra money go towards paying off debt? Our only debt is our house. We pay extra to the principal each month. And we're on track to have our mortgage paid off in 10 years. I know that building up a stockpile will have a positive effect on the overall budget. But I feel guilty not sending all available extra funds to paying down the mortgage.

What takes priority - debt or stockpile?

Mary Ellen
The Working Home Keeper

Anonymous said...

Please keep writing regardless of what your numbers say. You are my most favorite blog and I would feel a great loss if your did not post. You are the best and such an inspiration.
Sharon D.

LisaZ said...

Your pantry posts are my favorite and why I keep you on my blogroll, mainly. I am realizing I have let my pantry slide lately, mostly due to costs and teen-agers now eating so much more. I could use some inspiration. I'm thinking I will find $10 here or there and go out just for the purpose of re-stocking a few things. What should I start with? Probably protein foods like lots of peanut butter...maybe some dried milk and shortening too.

Anonymous said...

We love the following the adventures of Miss Victoria. She is such a sweet cat. Also your advice is very practical. You've obviously 'been there-done that'.
Truckers have a saying 'If you've got it--a truck brought it' so it's not surprising that the cost of gas would raise the cost of groceries.
We save a lot of money by stocking up on sale so I'm looking forward to reading your Pantry posts.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brenda-- I too have been working on deepening the pantry and the freezer pantry as well. We've had some lean weeks with car repairs and the holidays. Behind us now, but the cash wasn't there for stock ups just milk and produce runs. It worked out o.k. :) Lots of "imaginative" meals. I love Aldi's if you have one near you. They are a boon to home cooks with lots of good basic kitchen items with excellent prices. I grew up in the metro Detroit area, a little town called Ferndale, next town south of Royal Oak if that places it for you. Hope you enjoyed your time in my part the country. I now live in TX, but miss the midwest very much. Take care -- Hannah

suzanne said...

i look forward to those pantry posts! i think most of us have a sense of uneasiness about our economic times, and trusting the Lord doesn't mean living willy-nilly. He expects us to be good stewards, so any tips and lessons you can give will be MUCH appreciated!

Scrappy quilter said...

Can't wait to read more in regards to your pantry ponderings and what you've learnt over the years. Hugs

Anonymous said...

Brenda, Personally I love your blog just as it is. The variety is interesting, and though my selections of books is a bit different, I always feel a kinship with those who love to read.

In nearly 37 years of marriage I have always kept a very deep pantry, enough to keep us going for four to six moths at least, so I look forward to the "Panty Pondering's" for new ideas.
Because as you said..its not a matter of "if", it's "when". The only thing we are not ready with is bottled water. Can you make a suggestion as to how much we need to keep on hand and how it needs to be rotated for freshness? And is it acceptable to use food safe containers, sterlized of course, and fill them with our own water?

Thank you so much for the time you put into Coffee Tea Books and Me

May God be with you, Marsha

Vee said...

Sigh. Yes, I ordered oil this week. It arrived today. It was $149.00 more than I thought it would be; that bites a budget. The oil man, who just so happens to be my daughter-in-law's dad, asked how I was and then I asked how he was. He said, "Oh, not so good. I'm losing friends and no one wants to see me anymore." Nothing like gallows humor. I am just grateful for a mild winter and receive it from the hand of God. He is looking out for us. He truly is. Next actually try making my own laundry soap.

Kimberly said...

I miss tea time myself. :) We are both quite eclectic in our writings, are we not? No wonder we both feel so at home in each other's places.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brenda, I too enjoy books, tea & decorating , and cats are a must in my life, but I have been extremely uneasy the last couple years with the economy. With lay offs and chronic health issues I feel the need to stock up as my grandparents did during the depression. But we dont have garden space and really do not know where to start. And what about recipes? I have a cupboard full of tomatoes and beans but what to do other than soup? I love your blog and would really appreciate more pantry help. But please keep Victoria along side. What a beauty!

Vicki in UT said...

I love your pantry posts. I think you inspire me when I see how well you manage on very little. i have worked hard to build a very deep pantry, and just recently DH got a job in another state, and we had to move and leave most of it behind, so now I am rebuilding my pantry on a more limited scale.

Marsha asked about water--the recommended amount is a minimum of 1 gallon per person per day for 2 weeks (so 14 gallons per person). USU extension has a good factsheet about water storage. I think you can go to and search their publications. If you use clean, food grade containers, and fill them with chlorinated water (treated water from the city supply), no further treatment is needed. Many people rotate every 6 months or year, but it really isn't necessary.

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

I love your pantry ponderings posts! I totally believe in a well stocked pantry TEOTWAWKI or not. I was very grateful that I had a stocked pantry when my husband was told his job was going to be eliminated and I've been happy about it on numerous weather related occasions.

To Mary Ellen's questions - I think spending the extra money to stock your pantry is a worthwhile investment. You gotta eat no matter what! But if you're out of a job or whatever it doesn't matter as much at that point if you've paid extra on bills or not (especially since she's talking extra on her mrtg only).

As you can see it's topic near and dear to my heart! :)

Anonymous said...

I love your pantry posts as well, and they are very timely! One thing that will benefit anyone attempting to "deepen the pantry" is to consider ways to move away from processed foods and toward more whole foods and staple ingredients. You can save so much money in groceries by making things from scratch, rather than by using boxed mixes. You can use your freezer and pantry space more efficiently by freezing/storing whole foods such as roasts, whole chickens, bags of frozen veggies and fruit, and butter rather than storing premade meals and snacks that are lacking in nutritional quality. Consider investing in dry beans (which take up much less space than pre-cooked canned), baking neccesities like powders, spices, salt, sweeteners (recommend honey and sucanat) and healthy, shelf stable fats like palm and coconut oil (see Also, a grain mill is a TREMENDOUS investment (one might want to look into a hand-operated model in addition to the electric). Grains can be stored almost INDEFINITELY (remember Joseph?) if kept correctly, they take up little room compared to mixes (which do expire because of the fats mixed in), and offer exceptional nutritional value. See or for more info. on this topic.

Suze said...

Very timely for me. I am so frustrated sometimes by my time restraints, but a dinner of soup and sandwich is perfectly acceptable, whether it is homemade soup or canned. We are saving money by eating what we have for the first time - and I can use all the tips I can get.

The Working Home Keeper said...

Thank you Manuela, that's a very good point!

Mary Ellen
The Working Home Keeper

TheNormalMiddle said...

When I quit blogging at Enjoy the Journey and then tried to "re-enter" later, I had and still have very few readers. But it's okay. Everyone has a blog these days. I doubt I have much to add to the conversation, really. I only read a handful of blogs anymore but yours is still on my list, precisely because I like these types of discussions. And, you are right -- it is not "if" but WHEN this is going to happen. Neighbors need to be prepared to feed their less-than-prepared neighbors, family, and friends.


Anonymous said...

I learned that stocking up is a good idea when I broke a bone recently and was told to stay off my foot for awhile. We've been using some of the supplies from the 'stash' so the guys mostly just have to buy bread and milk.

Cooking ahead helps with saving money and time too. Chili is even better reheated the next day.

Mrs. Rabe- How do you make laundry soap? With my allergies, there's a lot of brands I can't use because they are scented. Thanks.

Mrs.Rabe said...


If it is okay with you, may I say to your commenter that I posted directions on how to make homemade laundry soap on my blog for today, Friday the 17th?


Anonymous said...

I will chime in and say I love these type of post too! May I add that I would love to read on how you cook with spices. That may sound silly to some, but I never really "learned" to cook-if you know what I mean.



Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries® said...

Brenda, your "deepening the pantry" posts are always full of wisdom and inspiring as well. They are a good reminder to us all that regardless of individual reasons for doing so, it is a valuable practice. Like Manuela, I was very grateful for our deep pantry when my husband went through loss of work many years ago. That being said, it's also a very smart way to save money especially if what I'm reading about the continued rising of food costs is correct. Why not stock up on dried beans, rice, and other food staples that your family enjoys (and that keep long term) while the prices are reasonable?
Doing so is a good investment and makes sense. Even still, as I mentioned above, I often neglect to do this which is why I enjoy your gentle nudges via these pantry posts!
Sending love and good thoughts as always.