Saturday, February 07, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - How?

Every once in awhile I need to explain what I mean about living a "pantry" lifestyle.  Readers do come and go (fortunately many stay!) and I understand the need for the explanation.

It is kinda' hard to do in just one sentence so I am dedicating a Saturday morning to chat about it... grab your coffee, pull up a seat, prop up your feet, and we will chat.  Are you comfy and cozy?  Good...

I have written that long ago and far away, I was an administrator for a women's survivalist and emergency preparedness website.  I hesitate to use the world survivalist for one usually gets the impression of a wild eyed Unabomber out in the middle of Sasquatch country.

I am still online friends with many of the women I met there and they would all giggle at such a description.  Most were moms, sisters, daughters, and a few grandmothers here and there... all who lived a certain lifestyle which I came to call "Pantry".

I'd say all of us had become proficient at cooking "from scratch" over the years.  Some had a lot of gardening and even homesteading skills.  Others of us... did not.  I knew how to do water bath canning but received a lot of good natured ribbing when I bought a pressure canner and was too afraid of it to use it!

As you would expect, a good part of it has to do with stocking up on food and essentials.  Perhaps we all have a little bit of squirrel in us?  I don't know... that is something we all have in common.  We feel more comfortable if we have some extra nuts food, batteries, TP, dishwashing liquid, etc. put away for tomorrow.

But it is more than about buying stuff and storing on shelves in the cellar.  For the difference that makes it a lifestyle is that we stock up on what we already use to make the family meals.  Instead of buying and storing... we deepen our usual pantry.  We do not stock up just for the emergency but for next month's Sunday dinner.

For instance, before my husband had to go on S. S. Disability and had a regular income, I would peruse the weekly grocery store flyers to see what was on sale that we often used.  Then I would use part of my grocery money each week to stock up on the sale items. 

By doing this every week (or bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) then it became possible for me to purchase for the pantry and shop the pantry when I needed an item.  As opposed to running to the store each time I needed an item and often paying full price.  Of course, there were always those items that cannot be stored or that never go on sale but by keeping an eye on various stores, one could usually find a sale now and then.

Living on a limited income (and something we never expected to do!), I still find it better to think like a squirrel instead of a lioness when it comes to eating.  For the lioness eats only fresh kill (hmmm... that mental image is almost enough to make me a vegan).  While the squirrel is found gathering food a little at a time for her meal today and storing for the winter. 

One gains some very good skills as they have lived a pantry lifestyle through the years.  For instance, I knew to check a few stores for after Christmas sales.  I went to Meijers the very next day because I needed to purchase Christmas wrapping paper for the first time in years.  I walked around the store and found their Starbucks' Christmas blend coffee K-cups on clearance and the Christmas tin of another favorite coffee.  So I bought one box of the K-cups and two cans of the other (less expensive to begin with) coffee.

While at the Christmas section of the store, I noticed shelves where they had moved all their Holiday scented Yankee candles to clearance them out and I bought a couple for my gift drawer (I would have bought more but I wanted to use limited funds for edibles mostly). 

Later in the week, I stopped by Kroger's where they had a big display of items on clearance which appeared to be overstocks on baking goods.  They were 75% off!  I bought a few packages of chocolate chips (the really good brand), sugar, brown sugar, oats (why they were on sale I do not know), the Kroger brand of Splenda, graham cracker crumb pie shells, and a few other items which escape my memory at the moment. 

I almost didn't buy the extra bags of sugar, even at 99 cents a bag.  But the pantry instinct ran deep enough to remind me of a day last summer in which I wanted to make jelly but was out of sugar.  Wallah!  A few bags of sugar went into my grocery cart.

I had been given a gift to make it possible to stock my pantry a little deeper and that, along with the experience of having items go on clearance after Christmas, made it possible to do some deepening here and there. 

I truly believe finding that clearance at just the right time at Kroger (for the items were flying off those shelves) was a "God thing".  I had planned to stop by Goodwill for a quick perusal while in town but instead felt a strong nudge to go by the grocery store even though I had not planned to that day.  Yes, He cares for every detail of our pantry!

As an aside, I also bought some items on clearance that I hadn't planned on doing.  I had to stop by Michael's Arts & Crafts one day to purchase a page of animal skin scrapbook paper to make a birthday card for my granddaughter.  While there I came across a big clearance sale on their washi tape.  It had been cleared of a lot already but still had a few very lovely items I could get on the cheap.  I was also able to buy multiple packages of treat bags on clearance for about fifty cents each.  Although considered "Christmas", these bags had a red design on them which could be used at any time of the year.

That is why we need to pray before shopping.  Some people (no, most people) laugh at us when we do.  But then many people come to my home and ask where I bought a lovely item and I can tell them why... Goodwill, or the Mission Thrift Store, or the Salvation Army thrift store, or a garage sale.  I love seeing the look on their skeptical faces.  ;)

Anyway... do you see having a deepening the pantry mindset not only saves you money but gives you peace of mind?  I cannot deepen my food pantry very deep these days.  There was a time when I kept a few months worth of most items up to a year's worth of others (like wheat and oats as I ordered them once a year from a co-op).  These days I am thankful when I have an extra item on the shelves!

But part of a pantry lifestyle is also continuing education... reading, learning, noticing things.  Like the fact that Kroger's 10 for $10 frozen veggie sale repeats every month or that washi tape can be seasonal.  We read articles and cookbooks and gardening magazines and self sufficiency magazines for those still inclined.

I think you see now that it is not so much about a skill (such as stocking up or canning) but it is all about a lifestyle.  We learn from each other and we love to find each other online for quite often, people in our real lives think we are quite batty at the way we choose to live in the 21st century.  Let them eat cake (that we made as we had the ingredients in our pantry)!!!

So, I hope that helps to explain it in a somewhat rambling fashion here on a Saturday morning.


rebecca said...

I guess I have a sort of pantry "mind-set". It seems like common sense to me.

Today while in the store for ice-cream for an impromptu birthday party tonight, I passed 2 rotisserie chicken at 1/2 off - dated to be sold by 2/8 (tomorrow). I snatched it up at $2.48 and brought it home, chopped up the meat and made chicken salad to eat for a light lunch since we were having party food tonight. Left-overs will be good tomorrow afternoon. I almost ALWAYS check the sales rack at our Meijer store to see if there's anything I can get creative with.

Anonymous said...

Brenda Several years ago, I needed a winter coat. Found the one I wanted but it was $70.00.
I didn't have the money. The coat did not go on sale. They had the same coat the next winter still the same price had to pass again.
Then in July I found the same coat at goodwill for $8.00 sometimes it pays to wait!


Scrappy quilter said...

Great explanation. I love the idea of always praying before entering a store. I often forget to do that. I need to make it a habit!

Vee said...

An excellent definition and discussion. My pantry is pitiful right now and probably will be until we can stop putting heating oil in the tank...April perhaps? In the meantime, I am using another trick you taught me...holding back some to create extra meals so instead of all the turkey going into the soup some of it is saved to create a little casserole. If there are leftovers, freezing them so we don't get weary of eating the same thing over and over. And I don't worry about the date on dry spices. =D

A Woman that Fears the Lord said...

It helped me to read that you are not able to stock up like you did years ago. We, too, are living on disability. I keep trying to get my grocery bill down but I'm not making any headway. We eat low carb for health reasons. I wish I could find a place that told what the average grocery gill is for my situation. Enjoyed learning from your post.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This week at our discount grocery store, I found good coconut oil for sale, for $3.99 a quart. I usually buy it at my natural food store (though a different brand) in a gallon size. However by knowing the price, I was able to buy 6 quarts, for less than I normally spend for the gallon! I am very pleased. And they had Hellman's mayo for $1.99 a quart. Thankful to be able to stock up when I find sales like these!


Anonymous said...

The canned/frozen garden produce from last summer has made my pantry very deep. So thankful!! I, too, was afraid of that pressure cooker. I used to sit right in front of it and watch it so closely with much fear. But I love using it now - with no fear. ; 0) Saves so much time. Pam (SD)

Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...



Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...

Ditto this!


Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...

Right! My daughter mentioned to me one day last week, "Well, I used up the LAST of our Thanksgiving turkey: enchiladas." I was so proud of her. Got her money's worth out that bird!

Happy week,

Barbara said...

Brenda, thank you for explaining the pantry life more fully here. I have enjoyed this post and took notes!