Saturday, August 24, 2013

Living the Pantry Lifestyle: What does it mean to live a pantry lifestyle?

Beautiful ears of corn...

Since I've had a number of questions, I thought it a good idea to explain the difference between living a Pantry Lifestyle, Deepening the Pantry, and just stocking up for an emergency.

I see it this way... one builds a pantry by keeping on hand at least one extra of essential food and non-food products.  One deepens their pantry every time they add extra to their shelves.

A regular pantry will hold perhaps an extra couple bags of flour, sugar, and say...  a few cans of tomatoes.  A deepened pantry may hold six bags of flour, a few bags of sugar, and a few flats of canned tomatoes.

Then there are some people who feel led to have a very deep pantry and they do not act out of fear but faith combined with action.  They learn all they can about stocking up, how to rotate items, how long past a "use by" date is the product still good, and how to stock up on a budget.

For we are not talking about filling closets with beans, wheat, and toilet paper in case the world as we know it ends!  Deepening the pantry means we keep extra of what we use often (or at least seasonally).  It also depends on living a Pantry Lifestyle.  How?

However deep one wants their pantry to become is based on 1) money, 2) space, and 3) how much attention they are willing to put into it.  For it is true that the deeper your pantry, the more you need to pay attention to it.  

For instance... let's say you want to include wheat because it is healthy and it keeps well when properly stored.  But you buy it and then never use it.  Then after five years you find yourself out of a job with no money to purchase bread and you open your wheat to use for your family.

If you have been living a Pantry Lifestyle, you would have been using wheat regularly by grinding it with your wheat grinder.  By this time, even if you did not make bread every week, you would have gained skills necessary to make a good loaf of bread and you have on hand the other ingredients necessary to put together a bread recipe.

Someone living a Pantry Lifestyle will come to know if they are good at grinding wheat and making bread.  It may be they realize it would be better to carefully store flour instead, that they find it much easier to make bread for their family without using ground wheat.  Because the family enjoys their bread, they will make it often... or at least enough to keep up the skills.

If you have only stored the wheat and never used it, you may find yourself in the middle of an emergency situation without the skills necessary, perhaps without the ingredients needed to make bread, and quite possibly.... even if you did have everything needed... your family is not used to eating 100% whole wheat bread.

For you see, a true Pantry Lifestyle includes gaining skill as well as stocking up.

This is true of skills like gardening!  I have known people who purchase seeds each year just "in case" they ever need to grow their own food but never so much as grow a basil plant in the meantime.

Everything I know about gardening has come about by my failures (what Sharon Lovejoy in the book by the same name calls "Trowel and Error").  Every year I learn something different because there have been no two years of gardening where all conditions have been the same. 

I have read of people who live a pantry lifestyle who decide to learn one or more extra skills each year.  There is always something to learn from basic gardening, bread making, canning, freezing, to how best to store certain foods to keep them fresh and bug free.

One of the things I love about my friends who live such a life is how they never stop learning.  Perhaps the most important lesson we all learned was that there is a difference between "buying and storing" essentials and living that pantry lifestyle.

I hope this answers some questions!  Next week I hope to share more about what to keep in the pantry when one can't (or won't) use highly processed foods.

Please forgive any typos and grammar errors.  Today is Draft Day on my husband's Fantasy Football League so my computer time is very limited.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello Brenda!

I really enjoyed this post. A lot of wisdom stored in there.

"For you see, a true Pantry Lifestyle includes gaining skill as well as stocking up."

My favorite line and food for thought for me today. Thank you!

Lori in PA

Vee said...

Your husband needs an iPad. Ha!

I always love to read your Saturday posts. Though I do not follow all the advice given, I certainly have used more of it than ever before. We eat all our leftovers these days. I rework leftovers like a science project. I label my freezer items carefully. I even label new items going into the fridge with a marker so I can see that date clearly. I set a little money aside to buy that item on a sale so good that it can't be let go. Last week it was five jars of olives for $2! A weird item perhaps, but we use olives in salads all year through. And your pantry idea for guests has been the very most helpful of all. I never feel unprepared when a guest pops in anymore. Phew. What a relief.

Thanks for all you do, Brenda!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

A great post....Some of these ideas you've mentioned before. They are the ideas I need to retell myself almost every morning! I am not good at rotating! I am too attracted to exotic ingredients which I don't always use! But I'm working more on it! Your pantry posts are excellent, Brenda.

Anonymous said...

As you say each year and each family is different. Gardening as well as what we eat can change. I have decided to keep a loose leaf notebook. I find ideas geared to our current lifestyle and ones I want to remember we use and need a place to keep them. I have been writing some and others cutting the article out of the magazine. I especially keep those ideas that I have wondered about forever and then stumble on the answer. You know, the ones you see and think aha !! .. and then forget where you saw it. :-) I am also agreeing with Vee in your posts about pantry ideas for guests. That one was so informative and helpful..and really saved the day for us several times. :) Thanks for helping us again. Sarah

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
I do love your posts! This one was especially good. My pantry shelves are really bare now, we have used almost all of the food items. I am looking forward to restocking the shelves for winter meals. It is surprising how a little bit here and a little bit there adds up. I wish I knew where Vee got her olives! We love both black and green, what a good deal she got! Have a great week end. Love and Hugs, Nana

Mrs.Rabe said...

I also love these posts! They are so encouraging and helpful.

We do live a pantry lifestyle, and I am thankful to have learned skills like bread baking, canning, gardening.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Deanna

rebecca said...

I like the "never stop learning" part :)

Debby said...

Wonderful post!!!!! You explained a Panrty lifestyle perfectly

Georgene G. said...

I need to expand my pantry but it's difficult when on such a tight budget. I have enough green beans to can so I'll do that tomorrow and I've been making tomato sauce.

Good post!

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Wonderful pantry post as always!

Like Vee, we eat all our leftovers too. I've learned to just wrap them up and put them in the freezer unless I'm absolutely certain we will eat them in the next couple of days. That alone has saved me from throwing out a lot of food!