How I came to stop preparing for emergencies
and started living the Pantry Lifestyle...
Have you wondered why I use the expressions Deepening the Pantry and Living a Pantry Lifestyle?
Well, it came out of the years in the 1990s I wrote for an emergency preparedness website and was among those who felt led to prepare for possible challenges resulting from Y2K.
I learned so much during those years! When I first began writing, there was little available about the subject and most of it wasn't very useful... some was even downright dangerous (such as only stocking up on wheat, salt, etc. and surviving on those if necessary).
The first was the friendships developed all over the country between people who believed in being prepared and living a simpler life (not that life is ever really simple). Though separated by distance, we were there for each other in difficult times.
The second was the plethora of great information about homesteading, stocking up, simple living, etc. which came out of those years.
I guess I should add a third gift which I've heard about from many friends and that is first hand knowledge of what we would actually use in an emergency situation.
It was from this experience that I learned there was a difference between being prepared for an emergency and living a Pantry Lifestyle.
Many people who prepare for a possible emergency, whether a hurricane or TEOTWAWKI, do so by stocking up on food and stuff... and that's it. They go along living their lives hoping they never have to use what they have stored in the back of their basement. A few do so out of fear and dread which do not always result in good decisions.
However, what I began to see happening to friends (and myself) after Y2K was the move into a style of living... what I came to call the Pantry Lifestyle. We still believed in stocking up but instead of boxes of storage food, we learned to deepen what we have in the pantry... that which we already use whether daily or seasonally.
We still love the occasional gourmet meal but everyday meals usually involve simple ingredients but great technique... which means learning all we can about cooking, baking, etc.
If you watch a chef like Jacques Pepin, who lived through WWII, you get an idea of how frugality and simplicity is the base of his cooking. Even today as a world renowned chef, he doesn't let anything go to waste and he turns simple food into culinary magic.
We learned that doing it ourselves is almost always cheaper than having others do the cooking for you and often results in a superior product. Eating out and purchasing store bought and bakery items became once again celebratory experiences rather than the everyday habits they had become.
Oh, my family still has had seasons of busy-ness when we have to depend on fast food and pre-made but they are just that... short seasons.
We have learned so much through the years by doing instead of buying. Of course, sometimes buying good equipment and paying for classes are needed but I look at them as investments which keep returning through the years.
I am always wanting to learn something new to make a Pantry Lifestyle possible. Gardening has been a learning curve that I'm now learning to love! I plan to dust off my water bath canner for making jelly and jams again (our favorite jam without corn syrup is beyond our budget now!) and learn to can meat in a pressure canner.
I'm re-learning crochet, planning on doing more sewing after a decade long recess, and perusing much loved cookbooks for simple recipes involving beans as their base (now that our bean recipe dis-liker has moved out for good).
I am continually learning about gardening and we plan to expand our garden again next year. One doesn't have to move to the country to grow things, of course. One of my friends "in town" plowed up part of her back yard this spring to start a "proper garden" but in past years she grew tomatoes at the side of her house.
Perhaps the one part of the Pantry Lifestyle we all can live... whether in the country or city dwellers... is the idea of living "below the economic grid". That is, becoming skilled at not paying full price for items unless it is necessary, Believe me, coming from a former 1980's Yuppie... that was an important change in lifestyle.
Even if you don't have to be frugal due to a limited income, the rewards are great and the life so rewarding that I'm surprised more people don't do it. Probably because frugality doesn't have a Public Relations person... sigh.
Living a Pantry Lifestyle is far from new. Actually, it is rediscovering the life our great grandparents and those who went before them lived... when one was considered wise when they lived by the seasons, were frugal with their purchases, and everything was reused when possible.
You see, if you prepared for difficult times only by buying stuff and never using it... you lose the satisfaction which comes from going against the societal norms (where shopping should be considered an Olympic event).
I have learned that by living a Pantry Lifestyle , I am also prepared for emergencies (as much as anyone can be prepared). So much of being prepared is having gained knowledge and experience.
I have a pantry (albeit mine is much smaller than it once was when I had more income), I can cook from scratch, I know how to mend my clothes instead of throwing them away, I know which grocery store reduces their produce on Monday and which grocery store reduces their "sell by date" meat prices each morning.
I have learned which department stores slash their prices at the end of each season and when to check for deep discounts on flowers and gardening supplies at various stores.
I have developed knowledge such as buying seeds on clearance and storing them in the refrigerator and in what part of my yard absolutely nothing grows.
I have learned what society calls progress may not necessarily be a good thing. Some of it is... like computers and blogs and the ability to text my child 1,000 miles away at any moment. Cheese made with no milk and orange juice without oranges are not.
Most of all I have learned to trust God in all things and seek His counsel and wisdom. If I really need something, He has a way of providing. He even provides for a God-given desire here and there. :)
Note: This is being reposted as it was accidentally deleted in original form.