Saturday, August 10, 2013

Living the Pantry Lifestyle

In the past few years, I've tweaked my message of stocking up from emergency preparedness (which is what I wrote about in the 90s) to the idea living a pantry lifestyle.  Mainly through lessons learned in my own life when I had stocked up on various food and products only to find when I had to "live out of my pantry" there were items we used and those we ummm... did not.  Even when we desperately needed what was in the pantry.

I learned that preparing for difficult times (should we need to use our pantry in an emergency situation) should be more how people survived WWII... not preparing for WWIII.

So, through the years my writing has been much more about keeping essentials that we use all the time stocked and rotated as opposed to filling our shelves with freeze dried food (which is still not a bad idea if you can afford it in addition to your everyday pantry).

Having said that... I still read a lot of survival websites and blogs to keep in tune and educated on the subject of emergency preparedness.  Sometimes my reading will show up as a link here.  But one blog recently asked a question that took me back to the book that started my interest in the subject... back to the 70s!

I've mentioned before that the book How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years was the match that kindled my interest in deepening the pantry (although a smouldering flame was already in place from my mother's need to "stock up").  In it the author, a financial consultant, explains why he believed people should put some of their money into stocking up on food and other essentials as well as into stocks, bonds, bank accounts, etc.

He learned the lesson during the Cuban Missile Crisis when he was on a business trip and heard what was happening on the radio.  He pulled his car over at the next public telephone (this was the 60s and no cell phones!) and called his wife, telling her to take all the cash they had on hand and purchase food and necessities at the store.

He was correct in his thinking for very soon the shelves of grocery stores were emptying as the chances of war loomed between Russia and the United States.  I was a young child when this happened but I still recall the fear in our home and the nightmare I had that week (I can't recall the dream I had last night so that tells you how vivid it was).

But I am offtrack, as so often occurs... the question this blogger asked was something like "If there was an emergency warning that some kind of trouble was possible where people would have to stay at home for awhile... but you still had time to go to the store... what would you buy?"

I thought that a fascinating question. The article went on to say very few people have even considered this question as they assume it would never happen.  Well, the Cuban Missile Crisis took my parents by surprise.

In this age of domestic terrorism, it is often stated it is only a case of "when" and not "if" such an occurrence will happen.  

The article went on to remind us that a major terrorist strike in any part of the United States could stop the flow of semi trucks and trains for awhile.  I still remember when my friend in New Mexico said her grocery shelves were nearly empty for weeks after Katrina hit as most supplies were routed to the Gulf coast... so it doesn't have to be an attack from enemies.

Of course, on a smaller scale we have winter storm warnings in our area.  I remember when we lived "in town" and had a terrible time getting some items such as fresh eggs and produce for weeks.

At first the trucks could not make it through the snow and when some trucks did begin to get through, the essential food items would quickly disappear as people restocked their refrigerators.

It is worth putting both thought and prayer into the question and writing down a list.  Not just once but keeping the list out for awhile as you think of essentials during the week.  For instance, as you make your meals through the week an item will come up as essential you didn't think of at first... or you realize you only keep enough pet food on hand for the week... or you stop and think of the fact your well doesn't run should electricity be out.

Then after making a neater master list, tuck it away in one's purse, tape it inside the door of a little used cabinet, or place the list in a file where one keeps their emergency numbers and documents.  Just make certain you know where it is should you ever need it.

A good idea would be to keep a copy in the kitchen or your purse and a copy where you keep important documents should you need to pick them up and leave quickly.

What, you don't have all your important documents in a such a place?  That is the subject then of a later Pantry Lifestyle post.  (Although when our house was hit by lightening and the fire department was called, I remembered the cat and not the container with the documents!)

Okay... think of this question with pen and paper in hand.  If there was an emergency broadcast warning of possible (but not immediate) danger... if there was time to get to a store to make purchases... what are your priorities?   

Believe me, I know from the everyday occurrences... those when I am shopping without a stressful situation... that I have gone to the store for an item we are out of and came home with everything but that item!

Take the time, think it through, make a list.  Someday you may be glad you did.

Note:  If you have family meetings, this would make a great subject to brainstorm with the kids.  As long as it is handled in such a way they are not fearful, of course.  Along with other important questions such as what to do if an emergency occurs during school hours (if not homeschooling) such as the Oklahoma tornadoes this past spring.


Terra said...

I like your idea of writing a list ahead of time. Tops on my list is water, water, and more water. Charcoal briquets for cooking food outdoors, matches and of course canned foods.

Anonymous said...

I, too, remember the Cuban missed crisis (I guess that tells my age!) with backyard bomb shelters and practice drills at school. I also remember my mom storing a few food items in my parent's walk-in closet, the only room in the house with no windows. (We didn't have a bomb shelter) I also remember all the warnings about Y2K. I had a stash of toilet tissue that almost reached the ceiling! LOL! We've had our share of power outages and even snowstorms, to realize it's always a good thing to be prepared ahead of time. And living in the Pacific Northwest, we're always under the threat of a major earthquake which would happen without warning. So I really appreciate all your suggestions. I've stocked up on food items in the past that we never ate, and even now need to check to make sure I use what I have before the expiration dates. A list is a very good idea! Thanks, as always, for sharing! So glad you're feeling better!
Laura from WA

Mrs.Rabe said...

This is a great post Brenda.

I was an infant during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I don't know what that was like for my parents. I'll have to ask them.

We do have a pantry but your post brought up some things we don't have organized. Sounds like a perfect safety project for school this year.


Anonymous said...

I like your reminder a while back to stock foods that can be eaten without heating too. Here if there is an earthquake we should not barbecue or light a match even unless we are totalllllly sure there are no gas leaks. Neighbors all around us could have gas lines broken or even water heaters or stoves pulled from the wall and so gas escaping. Your suggestion made me select more foods to eat upon opening. And several can openers!! :) I don't think though that any of us realize how much water we will need. I know here with 3 bridges and many other things around us that could collapse in an earthquake we will be alone to take care of our neighbors ourselves for a long time. Knowing your neighbors is essential. All of us have talents and knowledge that can be used by all. If we are all we will have we need to be able to work together. Thinking about it all is scary but not thinking ahead and planning some is bad thinking too. Sarah

mdoe37 said...

I'm off to purchase that book -- practically only for the shipping cost!

That started you off and running...this started me.

I read that over and over...obviously I have it bookmarked. Its all basically right there. It was a real light bulb moment for me. There are a few odd items like powdered eggs, but otherwise....everything is pretty every day stuff.

I do have a few "buckets" set aside and some of those things like powdered eggs, tomato powder. Some, not a lot. I certainly have no large cache of Mountain House (chicken teriyaki!!!!)

Your idea is excellent for keeping that list handy. A quick run for a few quick hardcore items without putting a lot of effort to think about it in crisis would be great.

I need to make work of the documents as well... you would never know I was a top notch secretary-Miss Super Efficient -- Yup just like the cobbler with worn shoes!

And I just remember I forget to buy JUICE today.

Cheri said...

I always appreciate this type of reminder.

We try to live a pantry lifestyle, but now our home is for sale and we plan to move fom TN. back to our beloved Wisconsin woods.

So we are trying to 'eat up the pantry' now instead of replenishing it.

I have been pleased to learn that even after eating from the pantry for weeks and weeks, we still probably have another 4 week's worth to go.

The $ we are saving now will go to build our pantry in our next home.

Vee said...

Don't take this the wrong way, but when I was visiting earlier I nodded off. So that wasn't good and I have had to return to know what I was reading. I do have all my important papers in one place except...not sure if I should make the exception and put everything together because then I might forget where I had put them when I have kept them in the other place so long. I'll have to rethink that bit. As for food...I am not buying one thing that we won't eat. No cream of celery or asparagus soup for us. I won't be keeping any goods kept in glass bottles...that can't be good and I won't depend on frozen foods even though we do have a generator. It's just so tough to keep that thing going. I'd have to think about all of this long and hard. So once again, you've got my brain in gear. That has got to be a good thing!

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Great pantry post as always!

I've let my pantry dwindle since we don't a lot of boxed or even canned food anymore. It's hard to keep a pantry if you mostly try to eat fresh whole food. I do realize that having food stored is better than not having food stored. But if you don't normally eat that food and you wind up not needing it, then what. Something to think about. I'll have to see what I can come up with.

Vee said...

First word I saw scrolling through just now..."Goudge." I need to read! And I think I got interrupted at Mom's Heart so I'll run over there and check to see if I did or did not hit publish.