Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Pantry Suggestions

While pondering my post for Sunday, I was reminded of what sharing meals and food was all about... far more than just filling hungry tummies! 

So, it also inspired my thinking for today's Pantry Post.   I have written before how troubled I am when food storage lists only advise stocking a lot of rice, beans, wheat, etc.  Yes, one would survive on such food but we humans look at food far more than survival.

The basis of our pantry should allow us to have on hand what we need to put delicious food on the table and at as reasonable a price as possible (ie: stocking up on sale).  I love having on hand what I need when I think of a recipe at the last moment and no running to the grocery store is necessary.

As with anything in life, the more thought and effort we put into it will equal the amount of success we have when putting together and keeping up a pantry.  I have found it helpful to think in terms of "meals and snacks" when deciding what I want to keep in the pantry.

For instance, I write down various dishes under "Breakfast", "Lunch", "Dinner", "Snacks",, "Baking" and "Comfort Good"... understanding there can be a lot of overlap between the categories.  

By thinking through a few recipes for each category, I can prioritize what I want to have on hand in my pantry and from there make a basic pantry list.  It really helps to write everything out, too.

Once the basics are there, I can start to deepen the pantry with those items that are essential to most cooking and baking.  I do this in a few ways: 

First, when I need to replace an item I buy two instead of one (for instance, an item like cocoa or baking powder) and always checking the Use By date.

Second, whenever I am in the grocery store I purchase one item for the pantry.  This may be nothing more than a bag of onions, potatoes, or a can of coffee but every little addition helps.

Third, if I am doing my grocery shopping and I see a pantry staple on sale, I'll purchase what I can (given the current state of my checkbook).  :)

Over the Holidays I was at Kroger when they had my favorite cream cheese on a 10 for $10.00 sale so I bought ten packages (at more than a 50% off saving).  Cream cheese has a very long shelf life and is a basis of so many desserts and appetizers that it is worth the refrigerator space to stock up on sale.

After the Holidays, I saw our favorite sparkling apple cider on clearance for $1.50 each so I purchased a few for the pantry.   That is a luxury item that can turn a simple meal into a celebration.

Fourth, when financially possible I stock up a lot on an essential item such as canned tomatoes, pasta, coffee and tea, King Arthur unbromated flour, butter for the freezer, frozen veggies, meat for the freezer, etc.

I've also written before about budgeting our limited funds for good quality cookware and baking pans when possible.  I was thinking of this recently as I remembered my terrible attempts at baking a cake, I mean... years of bad cakes!

It wasn't until I purchased two really nice 9" cake pans at a garage sale (or thrift store?) that I finally baked a good cake.  As it turned out, it was not a lack of skill but the wrong pans that was the trouble!  I had been using two cheap 8" pans which were causing my misshaped cakes!  

Of course, you know all about my china obsession collections.   But it is true that a simple meal served on pretty dishes can transform the meal into an experience, as does lighting candles or using pretty napkins. One doesn't have to have an entire set of dishes, I have a few patterns that are only plates purchased while thrifting.

I also love using different china seasonally.  For instance, the inherited Victorian china that we use for Easter and other Springtime celebrations (originally belonging to my husband's grandmother) and my brown transferware collection which I love for autumn and winter.

It doesn't have to take much money to set a pretty table.  Dishes purchased at the department store are very expensive... dishes at Target are reasonable... dishes purchased at Goodwill are cheap. 

So, getting back to food... while it is a good thing to have a really deep pantry, let's not forget the first reason we want to keep items on hand in the first place.  We want to provide food for body and soul!

As for emergency preparedness, I have had to live from my pantry before and believe me... if we had to subsist on beans and rice then an already stressful situation would have been made worse.


Vee said...

I agree with you. So many of these kinds of items have gone right straight to the trash after being on my shelves for years AND years. It is not food that we enjoy. I'm not going to pretend. So for us, it is far more frugal to live in the reality of what we will eat. As for saving food for a year's worth of eating as I heard this week somewhere...if times that get bad, I don't want to be here in a year. =D And I am always trying to save part of my budget for those unexpected sales items that show up in the market. A good deal is a good deal. Oh, wanted to ask you if you know anything about the frugality of making one's own butter. I am not going back to margarine, even to bake with, ever again.

Anonymous said...

Great post and very well said! It was a good reminder for myself and my pantry.


Anonymous said...

Great tips.
I like the idea of buying one item for the pantry whenever we go to the store.
We find that it's cheapest to buy canned things at Costco but you really have to 'do the math' because some of their other items are actually same price or cheaper elsewhere.

Storybook Woods said...

Beautiful post Brendan, you are so right food should feed our soul, as well as our tummies. Delish food is very important!! Clarice

Anonymous said...

cocoa powder, canned milk and sugar to make delicious hot cocoa, super easy and super cheap. That's my must have. Also tea. I like having whole organic chicken in the freezer to roast and make chicken noodle soup. My 2011 canned evaporated milk is getting solidified to some extent and tastes slightly sour. Does anyone know if it is okay to use in casseroles as long as the cans are not swelling, leaking or dented? I've been using some of it that way and we haven't gotten sick so . . .
Vicky L.

mdoe37 said...

Or even Dollar Tree. . . I shattered a piece of Corelle a couple of days ago and decided to start looking for a few new dishes. The husband mentioned that the office had purchased plates from Dollar Tree. Oh Okay, sure. So I stopped in and. ..right there. . . in front. Royal Norfolk Mambo. I had seen these and, of course, didn't spend the money. But now I couldn't refuse at a buck a piece!!
I added a few cut glass dessert plates and I'm in business.

And Goodwill!! I'm sure I posted on the Noritake china set I found for $19. But the Johnson Bros. plates. I walked by some and said to self, "that looks like something Brenda. . . " To the checkout I went with a couple each of devon sprays, rose chintz and Old Britain castle. A buck a piece.

As for food, I struggle maybe in overbuying. That sounds odd, but my grandmother was almost a hoarder and I keep that in the back of my head for guidance.

Anonymous said...

Re-canned milk tasting sour.
We usually figure 'When in doubt, throw it out'. It isn't worth maybe making your family sick just to save a buck or two.

Front Porch Grace said...

Being inspired by your post on cleaning out and rearranging your pantry each season, ours are now all "sparkly" again. It's amazing how fast pantry shelves can become a mess. I would love to have a pantry that looks as splendid as Aunt Ruthie's, of Sugar Pie Farm House, or the Pioneer Woman's, but I am thankful for my simple kitchen cabinets and for the space they do afford. Yet, I love to dream about building shelves out of salvaged bead-board and planks that will serve as my open - therefore they must be kept organized - shelves, and how they will look stocked with careful preparedness.
As it is for now, I have taken your advice and have been getting a few things as budget will allow with every shopping trip and I was pleasantly surprised by God's provision!
You are such a blessing.
In His Grace,

terricheney said...

I consider myself one smart cookie and an accomplished frugalite, but I never thought of a long term pantry as a place to keep familiar comfort foods until I read your one of your pantry posts. Here I'd been reading survivalist lists thinking I needed to purchase a wheat grinder and wheat berries, raw coffee beans, etc. Now I'm looking hard at expiration dates and stocking hard those things that we'd normally eat and thinking of how to make those meals that are most appealing to us. Thank you for this whole series of posts, Brenda!