Saturday, February 02, 2013

Saturday Pantry Suggestions

My see through canisters reside on the shelf which used to hold my husband's books as a child...

After reading some comments and e-mails, I thought I'd continue with my ponderings of stocking the pantry with nurturing food vs. surviving.  Especially if we are stocking our pantries in case of a situation where we have to eat what we have on hand for most of our food (which can include a job loss).

Below is not a comprehensive list of possible foods for the pantry but rather an idea of how easy it would be to deepen the pantry for various foods.

Remember, your pantry list should first be your grocery list and not someone else's survival necessities.  Although I can usually tell when such a list is made by a woman for it includes chocolate.

This is all about food and such, but of course it is a good thing to have some extra toiletries and other necessities put back... and books... (and chocolate, coffee, and tea).

How deep would be practical for a pantry?

Well, right now I don't have a very deep pantry but when I did have the needed funds and space, I was able to keep a six months to one year supply of a few basics and usually managed a three month supply of some essentials.

How deep your pantry will become depends on space, finances, and how much time you want to invest in it.  If you decide to keep a deep pantry, it is more important to watch the dates and remember the most important rule of a deep pantry... rotate, rotate, rotate!

I wrote the date purchased on most objects (like a can) or on a sticker and placed on the object where it wouldn't look tacky (on the bottom of a jar).  What can I say, I don't want to be looking at a huge date instead of a label in my kitchen cabinets.

There were some items I bought by the case when they went on sale like canned tomatoes, canned veggies, fruit, or canned soups.  Sometimes instead of dating each can, I took a large marker and just put the purchase date on the side of the cardboard flat they came in.

Creating a list of what is on the pantry shelves and in the deep freeze would be a very good idea.  Right now I never have enough to make a list and even then I forget what is on the bottom of the freezer!

What would I make certain is on the shelves? 

Such a list is completely unique to each family.  Here are my own preferences.

Six months to a year... Some basics are easy to have six months to a year's supply if you consider things like cooking oil, oats and wheat, salt, yeast, baking soda, baking powder (definitely check use by dates), dried herbs and spices, vinegar, etc.

Years ago, it was more practical to purchase a year's supply of wheat, popcorn, and oats from the food co-op at once when a group of us went together to make the purchase.  The cost went down the more wheat was ordered as a group and I would budget for that purchase ahead of time.

I used to keep six months worth of flour and various baking supplies.  They can be fairly easy to stock up if prepared and stored carefully.  I still try to keep extra packages of both all purpose and bread flour (preferably unbromated King Arthur) but I don't buy whole wheat flour since I grind my own wheat.

If you do purchase your whole wheat flour, keep it in the freezer to retain vitamins and such.  I purchase non-GMO cornmeal and currently keep half of it in a canister and half in the freezer.

Three to six months... I was once able to keep three months worth of canned tomato products of various kinds since I used them as the basis of so many meals.  Perhaps the easiest thing to stock for a three months supply is dried pasta, if stored correctly it has an extremely long shelf life and it is inexpensive.

Other ideas for a three month supply are peanut butter, jelly and jam, canned meats and fish, additional baking items like nuts (store in frig or freezer) and chocolate chips, brown rice (keeps longer if frozen), brown sugar, confectioners sugar, butter in the freezer, coffee, tea, Splenda, etc.

With the high cost of coffee, I normally just have one extra can or package in the pantry these days.  I must have one extra or I develop a series twitch.

Three weeks... This is a reasonable amount to have on hand for most families and pretty much what I can do these days.   While it does not provide the food security of a deeper pantry, it would keep you from having to stand in long lines after an immediate emergency.  

In this supply, I would make certain I had food on hand which does not need cooked as well as such items as canned soup, stews, etc.   Three weeks worth of food in the home should make it easy to only stock what the family is used to eating.

This would also include items in the refrigerator such as cheese, eggs (I always try to keep a few dozen eggs), milk, etc.  It is also a good idea to freeze items like sliced turkey, ham, etc. in their packages as they would only need to be defrosted (they have a relatively short freezer life so do rotate the new with the old).  Extra bread (store bought or homemade) of all kinds is good to have in the freezer.

When I have a little extra to spend, I make certain I have three weeks worth of essentials.   Then when finances make it possible, I deepen the pantry with those items more essential to putting meals on the table.

Items needing careful rotation... I like having packages of some convenience items like cake mixes, pancake mix where you only add water, Cheerios and other high quality cold cereal, Triscuits and other crackers, Uncle Ben's Original rice mix, good quality packaged cookies and other treats, etc.

Chocolate needs lots of rotation... just saying.

All of these items have a fairly short shelf life and need to be stored carefully with the oldest package at the front of the pantry, the newest place in the back.  Most do not store well in excess heat and/or humidity.

What about dehydrated and freeze dried food?... I think there is a place for them for people who want a really, really deep pantry.  Some items especially are better if prepared for long term storage because of their tendency to go rancid quickly.

For instance, powdered milk in a box is great to have on the pantry shelf but it soon becomes rancid and is highly susceptible to varmints, so if you want to have it available in a deep pantry... it is worth the cost to purchase already prepared for long term storage.

Should you find yourself in a position where you must leave your home (such as a hurricane or forest fire), freeze dried food is light weight.  I've never tried any but I hear some brands are quite good.  They are currently beyond my budget.

Rise of the Preppers: 50 of Best Websites and Blogs... here.  I am only familiar with a few of these links but I plan to go back and check more of them out.   It certainly shows how many people these days believe we need to be prepared for "whatever".  I constantly hear from people of faith who feel God has led them to deepen their pantry!

How Long Does Food Last... here.  This website contains information on how long various foods are good PAST their use by date!  Very interesting...

20 Thing I Never Throw Away... here.   This is a great list by Survival Mom!  Of course, I agree with anyone who never throws away her bacon grease.  :)


Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries® said...

Fantastic post Brenda, I do agree that so many are adopting your deepening the pantry philosophy. It's just so sensible, with or without emergency preparedness, it's a time-honored practice that seemed to fall by the wayside during the convenience-oriented 20th century. With the cost of everything rising due to inflation, it's also a wise investment! I think i may have mentioned this to you before but I vaguely remember an old commercial from when I was a had a doll or something telling us that,"soup in the cupboard was like money in the bank" ( I think it may have been for Campbell's) ...I've been thinking about that commercial lately, but not necessarily soup or Campbell's, but staples such as you mention!
Thanks, as always for the gentle reminders.
P.S. love love love the previous post and picture of Victoria in her rocking chair...sooo cute and funny!

Carol said...

Brenda: Thank you so very much for this very useful list of how long food lasts. (MD)

mdoe37 said...

The 50 best websites link is priceless!! I'm looking forward to my new-to-me used kindle so I can read up without being stuck in the basement.

After reading this, I may have a few too many cans of tuna. lol I always wonder....that stuff is dated like 2-1/2 years in advance. hmmmm

I'm moving my butter to the freezer as well. Less tempting to use it lavishly when a dab of inexpensive margarine will do just as well. I'm not fond of tub margarine, but the husband doesn't seem to mind. Nor should my waistline as I'll use less...

Front Porch Grace said...

Great, practical advice, Brends, thank you.

The links are invaluable.

Yes, many in the Body of Christ are feeling the call to prepare.

In His Grace,