Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Pantry Suggestions

This past week, I've been thinking about the Pantry Lifestyle and how at times we must accomplish more doing and less buying.   Especially when we find we must economize and get the most out of each dollar.

So... I found myself pondering some of the ways I've learned to do instead of the usual stocking up of food and essentials in the past.  Below are a few of the lessons learned, especially in the lean years.

Organize what you already have

Just this past week I found myself hanging over the side of my deep freeze, seriously hoping I didn't fall in the bottom!  I was looking for something specific but in the search for that item, I found two sale beef roasts and one plastic grocery sack of frozen veggies I'd purchased at a 10 for $10.00 sale.

Now, I don't have a big deep freeze neither do I have the budget to purchase food at the grocery store and forget about it... but I indeed had with these items.  So, while I was there I took out all the bags, sorted through them, and replaced some items to find quicker.  It took only about ten or fifteen minutes but now I know what is available.

One of my "must do" items this Spring (before it is hot) is to sort through the canned goods on my shelves to see what I have, what I need, and get rid of what I won't use (given to a food pantry).

This is especially important when hotter weather is on the way if you keep your pantry in the garage (like I do).  Our season of really hot weather is usually short but I still don't want items to sit in the garage forgotten.  I also no longer have a very deep pantry so it is not financially wise to let food sit too long and degrade.   I'll write on another post about how long I keep items in the pantry.

By doing instead of buying, especially when our shelves are a mess, we save ourselves so much time and money.   As long as I've been doing this, I am embarrassed to say how many times I bought something new at the grocery store only to find I had two or three already on a back shelf.  Which is fine if it is a can of peaches but not so good if it is Dijon mustard (two jars will last a year).

Start or revise a pantry list

I know I talked about this recently but it SO important to keep a pantry list (separate from your regular grocery list) in an easy place to write items when you think of them.

Items you normally keep in the pantry but need to stock up on during the next sale can go on your regular grocery list.  The pantry list is a place to write down items you want to add to your pantry (or garage, etc.) that you  may have not thought about before or you don't use regularly.

Of course, you will eventually need to add these to your regular list as you budget for them.  For instance, some of the items I have added to this list (other than food) are oil for my lamps (I hadn't used them in years), pails from the bakery, matches, small battery operated radio, extra inexpensive reading glasses, "extra" medication, and various "how to" books.  Which leads me to...

Start or continue a homemaking library

I remember reading as a young bride about the importance of building a homemaker's library.  Of course, you know me... I need no excuse to buy a book!  However, when the budget is limited it may seem like a book is the last thing you need.

I can assure you that over the years, I keep going back to those books I collected early in my marriage as well as later additions.  I did give Stephanie a lot of books which I no longer needed (I am past the child rearing years) but I get to visit them once in awhile.

I have books on decorating, cooking (Can you have too many cookbooks?  If so, don't tell me.), gardening in general, flowers, composting, homesteading, deepening the pantry, sewing, quilting, emergency preparedness, surviving after a disaster, and a signed copy of what I consider the BEST "preparedness" books called Dare to Prepare... among others.

Some of the best books on various subjects have not been obvious in the beginning.  For instance, I learned a lot about frugal cooking and hospitality from Edith Schaeffer's books and many of us have learned how to live in hard times while reading The Long Winter, one of the "Little House" books.

I have often found such books at garage sales, library sales, Goodwill, and online at very inexpensive prices.  If I live to be a hundred years old, I will still be collecting books such as those above.  There is always something new to learn. :)

Invest in classes

Okay, some of these may cost money but I have found over the years that money spent on learning something new has always been a good investment and many have continued to be useful years later.  Barring a brain injury or disease, what you learn (and subsequently use) will stay with you.

Also, I know in my community there are very inexpensive classes offered for gardening, ethnic cooking, preserving food, etc. by various schools and organizations.

Here are just a couple ideas from my own experience.:

I took quite a few gourmet cooking classes as a young wife (and one recently) where I learned the basics of cooking in those classes which I still use in the kitchen today.

I rarely cook anything fancy these days but I learned in gourmet cooking classes that chefs (for the most part) use the same ingredients I can buy at the grocery store and the classes taught me how to prepare them, cook them, and serve them at their best.

I only took two classes in flower arranging but that was all I needed to make a grocery store bouquet look beautiful (although I do admit I also love the look of just sticking them in a vase... as is).

There is so much available these days, not only with in-person classes but through DVDs and the Internet.  It's suppose to be good for the brain to continue learning through the years.  My brain is getting exercised these days in learning to garden better.

Okay, that's all for this week... time to get out to that garden of which I write.

Picture:  Three Hens with Coop


Vee said...

We had a major cleaning out of the fridge and freezer when it went down a few weeks ago. I learned that too much stuff in the freezer can cause it to go on the fritz. Why do I always learn things the hard way. Anyway, I found enough food to last for the two weeks until grocery day without buying much more. Anything that was not labeled was chucked. I must get better at labeling properly with dates and everything.

Just finished Edith Schaeffer's chapter on Food. Loved it. So many ideas to mull over about variety and ways to beautifully present food even to strangers eating on the back stoop.

You have a good pantry list around here someplace. I know that Jen does in her Kitchen Matters series.

Unknown said...

Just wanted to say how much I enjoy this series. I'm in the process of decluttering my freezers of stuff I don't eat anymore due to changes in diet and the pantry is next, so your posts will give me some inspiration. I'm really enjoying your blog today, spending some time here catching up on things I've missed like your list of books and films. I've been on a C.S.Lewis kick due to your post about Oxford. So thanks for all the inspiration. Linda

Anonymous said...

You're right. I just found a slightly freezer burned chicken in the bottom of the freezer. Chicken soup tonight!

Anonymous said...

On of my favorite pantry tricks is to keep any lists I find on substitutions. The lists that read,'If you are out of such and such use such and such instead". Many is a time I have been out of something but did not have to run to the store because I could substitute it with something I did have. Flexibility. I also always keep flax meal around. One thing I do with it is to use it instead it of eggs and such. When I can I put up very small jars of applesauce blended smooth to use to substitute oil or eggs in recipes. I have yet to read Edith Schaeffer's books! I am so curious!! I too keep looking for good reference books on any homemaking subject. I am so glad I have gotten so many used copies throughout the years. Now the used stores don't seem to have any thing like the ones I got. Amazon might though. Thank you again Brenda for another look into the pantry. I looked in our freezer this week and found several jars of broth I had frozen that I forgot about...and I had soup on the menu for next week! :) :) By the way, who is Jen that Vee mentions? I take it she has a blog? Just wondering. Sarah

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This is so good...I know that some times I forget what I have in the freezer and on the pantry shelves....

I prefer to cook simple meals from scratch that we all enjoy.

Also with pantry things i like to think of stocking up things like candles, lamp oil, light bulbs etc...


Linda said...

We have been eating out of our pantry and freezer for a couple of months now. Every few days I take SOMETHING out of the freezer - even if I can't identify it! Then we either eat it or toss it - depending on what we find once it has thawed!

Great post!

Cheryl said...

I am nodding my head as I read this post, due to a recent experience in my own home.

A month or so ago, I cleaned out some shelves that serve as a small pantry in my laundry room. They had become sooooo disorganized that we couldn't put our hands on the things we needed, and I found myself buying duplicates (and triplicates and more) of lesser-used items. So my daughter and I pulled everything off the shelves and put them back on systematically. Then we used some of the duplicates and the about-to-expire items and planned the next couple of weeks' menus around those items.

I was amazed at how much I saved by just organizing and using what I had!

I am enjoying these Saturday pantry posts. :D

Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grace K. said...

Love your deepening the pantry posts...I enjoy soaking up the advice that I'll use for my own home and family one day. :)

Rebecca said...

"...more doing...less buying"! These four words are SO wise! This post is just full common sense for managing a household. (I'm waiting for YOUR book! You should write one.)

Anonymous said...

I love your "Pantry Posts"!! I always seem to take away some new idea or information! Thanks! Keep it up!

Front Porch Grace said...

Obviously, the current economy is driving many to look into emergency preparedness and deepening the pantry.

My friends and I are part of the "many". We have organized a 9/12 sort of group. We are mostly homeschoolers who are either homesteaders or homesteader "wanna-be"s who are looking into ways to convince their small country towns that we need to change the law back where folks can own chickens and small livestock. (That would be me.)

We are always looking for ways to learn and often have classes geared to families. Our latest class is about long-term food storage, canning, and gardening. Can't wait. My friend said that she heard from God to arrange this class and reading your post just seemed like further confirmation. Thank you, Brenda. Again, you are such a blessing.