Saturday, July 25, 2020

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - More stockup priorities

I was emailing a good friend back and forth recently about what shortages are showing up again in the stores.  This was after going to Aldi and seeing their two package limit on sugar. (So far they are the only store I go to that has a limit on sugar.)  She asked how do you know when you have stocked up enough?

That is one area where it is completely different for each family.  Since there are only two people in my home, my pantry would not be considered deep at all by households with more people in them.  My friend does a lot of canning so her pantry looks very different than mine.

Since I have a limited budget and limited space, I have first concentrated on restocking what was hard to find during the shutdown.  For instance, I may be slightly obsessed with stocking pasta of various shapes.  Honestly, my head tells me I have enough and my heart tells me to throw another box of Barilla thick spaghetti in the cart when I shop.  Fortunately, pasta is inexpensive.

Pasta, if stored correctly, will last for a long time.  I've used a box of pasta that was at least a year old and it was fine.  Pasta is like rice, they are both inexpensive meal extenders.  I've noticed when reading books and articles about families going through difficult times in the past, whether wars or the Great Depression, that the cooks in the family concentrated on what was available that would fill tummies.

You see the same intent with baked goods made with wheat flour or corn meal.  Where my mother came from, there were always biscuits or cornbread served with meals.  My mother-in-law always served regular sliced white bread with a meal.  Both lived through the Great Depression.

I saw a program about Colonial Williamsburg where they were talking about the food eaten during the American Revolution.  I had no idea that only the well to do used wheat flour.  Most wheat was grown as a cash crop so unless one was wealthy, they ate cornbread and products made with corn.

One of the substitutes people made when bread was in short supply recently was a product used by other cultures all the time... flour or corn tortillas.  I keep Mission  brand soft flour "Street Tacos" in the bread box all the time to make planned tacos or to create a taco with leftover meat or fish.  They are just the right size for my taste. 

I keep a couple packages of burrito size soft flour tortillas in the freezer and at the moment I have a package of soft corn tacos in the freezer should I need to make corn chips by cutting them into quarters and frying in a little hot oil.  We think of needing to stock protein all the time but we get energy from carbs and even as a Juvenile Diabetic, I need them in my diet or my blood sugar drops dangerously low.

Recently, the other items I have been making a priority are nonfood items that became difficult or impossible to find at the worst of the shutdown.  We have purchased a box of masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies (although they can still be hard to find), and I even bought a can of Lysol when it became available again.  I didn't keep it on hand before but I do now.

With two allergy sufferers in the house, we go through a lot of tissues during the Spring and Fall seasons.  So either Meijers or Kleenex brands of Extra Soft 3-ply tissues are purchased one box at a time when available. I kept a few extra boxes before the pandemic but I now keep more since they were difficult to purchase in the midst of the shutdown.

Which reminds me that one of the benefits of making purchases when not in the midst of the crisis is that it is easier to find our favorite brands.  I prefer King Arthur unbromated AP flour and it became impossible to find for awhile.  I used to stock just one extra bag besides what is in the canister but now I have three bags. 

I am keeping a lookout for King Arthur bread flour and may end up paying the extra amount another grocery store is selling it for just to have at least one extra bag in the pantry.  Although King Arthur All Purpose flour does work well for bread if the actual bread flour is unavailable.

I now have quick yeast and I have baking powder but if I see my favorite non-aluminum brand available again (so far it is not in my store), I will purchase one more can of it.  With just the two of us and no kids living close enough to drop off baked goods for, we don't need a lot but now I know it is possible to go months with these baking items available to purchase.

When you are making purchases for the pantry, always remember to check Use By dates, especially for items used in baking.  I have taken two cans of baking powder off the grocery store shelf and one Use By date was within a few months while the other was over a year away. 

Also, remember this Truth:  Stocking up when there are no shortages is not hoarding!  Hoarding is when someone fills their grocery cart with toilet paper when there is very little on the shelves to go around.  I was talking to an older woman at the grocery store recently who complained that her husband brought home a large bag of rice when she only needed one small bag at a time.  She then went on to complain about people who hoarded food.

I gently reminded her that he was wise because white rice stays good for a very long time but she still huffed and puffed and looked for the smallest bag.  She was not a pleasant person and I felt sorry for that poor husband who thought he was doing the right thing! I did not say anything about the real definition of hoarding.  Sigh.  There is wisdom gained with age.

I'll share more stocking up ponderings next week as I'm thinking through my own pantry priorities.  If you need good ideas about using basic ingredients "from scratch", the More-with-Less cookbook and Karey Swan's Hearth & Home: Recipes for Life are both extremely good.  Nothing fancy about them and no photos but good information and recipes.  Karey's book is only available third party now and there are some ridiculous price but lots of reasonable copies, too.

Mentioned in this Blog Post
More-with-Less by Doris Janzen Longacre... here.
Hearth & Home: Recipes for Life by Karey Swan... here. (Third party)

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.  I thank you for entering your Amazon shopping through a link or the widget on the sidebar.  :)


Jenny said...

Some weeks I've been weary of trying to keep my pantry stocked. I'm trying to keep it full or topped off I guess. So that if we do get sick & cannot go out at all we'll be ready.

I think I have a well stocked pantry thanks to you & one other home making blog I follow. I saw appreciate you encouraging this. I was well stocked long before the pandemic.

My pantry must be diabetic friendly. My husband has type 1 (juvenile) diabetes. So no bread, pasta, potatoes...basically no starch, sugar or carbs. So I have a lot of canned meat & low carb veggies.

With summer on I'm struggling with what to do with fresh fruit. It's another food my husband cannot eat or he can only eat very little of it. So figuring out how to use it up before it goes bad has been difficult. I can't make desserts, jams or breads with it. That's probably been the hardest thing to keep up with for me.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for lots of good Ideas! Hadn’t thought of making tortilla chips from corn tortillas or tacos! That idea may come in handy! And stocking up on flour tortillas and freezing them is a good idea, too! I found a recipe for Nan bread on another blog, which would come in handy if we can’t get yeast. Your last pantry post about buying brownie mixes got me thinking about chocolate! I have a friend who used to buy extra chocolate bars and freeze them! Your suggestion of doing a little at a time is very helpful, and a good idea, so we don’t go into panic mode at the last minute! Always look forward to your posts!
Laura C(WA)

Vee said...

You are doing well to have a conversation at the grocery store these days. Most people look so angry in those masks that I avoid conversation. Maybe it'll be better when I switch to a face shield. I'll wear some bright lipstick and smile a lot just for fun. Keeping a pantry up is not an easy task these days. I don't eat rice, but I do eat pasta so I'll try to stock up a bit more in that area. Plus, I need some one meal cans of food. I have been living so frugally that it scares me to think what my grocery bill would be if I just went ahead and replenished the pantry. 😳

cindy said...

My grandmother would have sliced white bread (from the grocery store) at her meals. It was served stacked on a small plate. I remember by grandfather would always eat some. Your rice story got me thinking of a book I just read by Rick Bragg - The Best Cook In The World". It wasn't until almost the end of the book when he mentions that his family from Alabama did not each rice. They instead ate potatoes (even with beans). I thought how did I not notice that none of the meals included rice. I grew up eating rice, and potatoes were for holidays and other special occasions.

Kay said...

Another idea instead of tissues, buy several packages of white cotton hankies. We only have tissues in the house for guests. Both Farmer and I prefer hankies for daily use.
Same in the kitchen, I only use paper towels for gathering scraps I will compost or something nasty I don't want to have to wash out of my kitchen towels. I need to get a supply of rags back under the sink.
I've been buying baking supplies also and I have 2 bags of wheat berries that I can grind. I purchased 3 packages of instant yeast and will be getting another the ingredients to make baking powder.
I firmly believe I need to stock up for a year.

elizabeth said...

I am with you with the pasta! I agree also that it is not hording to stock up when things are easy to get! I find that Pasta and rice does last a long time! A blessing!

Mama Squirrel said...

Hi! Good things to ponder about hoarding vs. stocking up. I noticed you linked to the 2003 edition of More with Less, but there is a 2016 update which does have a few photographs.

mdoe37 said...

My 84 year old mother doesn't drive anymore and just got out to a store herself to shop in several months....I'm the fetch person. She is making up a list of things to put by for the winter...canned fruits, paper goods, etc. I reminded her that I would need to make several passes to get all the paper products as Sam's still has a limit of one paper item per customer. And today had no store brand TP at all.

When all this started I headed out to the store and snagged bread flour myself. I don't eat a lot of bread, but it was not often on the shelf and I figured it might be good will for a neighbor or two in the future. I really like the Bouncer brand at Gordon Foods....25# bag. A very reasonable price.

One of my co-workers remarked "you bake bread?!?!?!". Yes. How much flour do you have, ten pounds or so? Uh...50. with yeast to match. She called me a hoarder lol. Cinnamon rolls for barter....I think not!

I also grabbed chicken breasts at Sams a couple weeks ago....on clearance...10# for $10. Boneless skinless! Now I have chicken in the freezer....but not passing that up! If nothing else, I'll run it through the canner.