Saturday, June 17, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Slowly restocking the basics

A few months ago, I moved some cookbooks and the wheat grinder from the bottom shelf of the bookshelf (shown above) to other places in order to store more of my basic cooking and baking items all together in the red bookshelf.  This set of shelves was first in my husband's boyhood room holding books, then in our various homes holding books or homeschool supplies, and now for over ten years it has been in our kitchen.

This is where I store basic grains, baking items, beans, etc. that I use all the time.  I like the way I can see when I need to restock most items when they are about half full.  I do have extra flour in a bottom kitchen cabinet and extra oats elsewhere because I use so much of both.

Oh, off to the right are the two containers that contain wheat and a Rubbermaid style container that photo bombed the post only because I had washed the lid and was waiting for it to dry.  The gallon size glass jar on the bottom right shelf holds a Sam's Club size bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and the half gallon size Ball jar next to it holds a Sam's Club size bag of milk chocolate chips. 

I have to budget each month for pantry basics, rotating purchases according to need.  This month I refilled the milk chocolate chips jar as I wanted to make a batch of my favorite cookie dough.  All of the cookie dough is placed on cookie sheets, two to bake for immediate gratification.  (I wanted to make some ice cream sandwiches with them.) The remainder scooped out and placed close together on a parchment paper covered half sheet and flash frozen to be transferred into Ziploc bags to have ready for baking.

One of the unexpected benefits of having the glass jars where I see them all the time in the kitchen was realizing what I was not using.  It's easy to forget a bag or two pushed to the back of the pantry but now I see the items and either use them or discard after awhile and use the jar for something else.  For instance, I had bought Jasmine rice for a recipe last year and it has been on the shelf untouched since then.  I need to either try that recipe or give valuable shelf space to another item.

I do still keep backup items in large Rubbermaid style containers in the garage.  For instance, I have two large bags of converted rice in such a container, extra pasta, noodles, etc.   I'll be honest, I haven't looked at the pasta for awhile so I'm thinking it is time to begin throwing away and replace what wasn't used with what I actually need.  Once again, Hubby brought it home from the food pantry when he used to go and these were all kinds I didn't use.  Sigh.  That was a lesson learned.

This week, I also looked through the antique yellow "pantry" in the kitchen, throwing away a few items I knew were way past date.  I can't believe it has been a few months already since I went through them in late winter.  

When I looked on the lazy Susan where I keep spices and jars of baking powder, extracts, etc., for baking, I realized I'd forgotten to buy baking soda since I last looked and there wasn't much left.  It goes on the grocery list.  I checked the date on the baking powder last time so I know it is still good but it will be replaced in the Fall. 

Last month, I purchased extra cans of organic tomatoes and a few kinds of organic beans when Kroger had them on sale.  So this month I could purchase other items at Sam's Club.  Next month I will check what is most needed at that time. 

My "little at a time" way of doing things even works in the kitchen!  ;)

My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe which I tweaked from two other recipes when the kids were at home... here.

This is a very interesting article about America's Food Supply (and why it is important to have a home pantry!)... here.


rebecca said...

Your photos are inspiring. Sure wish I knew of an inexpensive source of glass gallon jars... I'm going to go checkout your chocolate chip cookie recipe (even though it is the LAST thing I should be eating)!

Vee said...

I tried a new chocolate chip cookie recipe this week because I was using the patriotic M and Ms instead of chocolate chips for my grands' after school snack on Flag Day. I am going to snag yours as well. I just received my new bookshelf for cookbooks...makes for a crowded kitchen, but perhaps I can lighten up elsewhere as you have done. It is true that out of sight is out of mind. I think food banks might do better as discount warehouses so people can get only what they would use. I have cleared so much of it out and it made me feel guilty, but I would never eat it and could find no one else who wanted it either.