Saturday, September 25, 2021

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Basics vs. Prepackaged

I do enjoy watching a few prepper vlogs, especially those made by homemakers.  They tend to be very knowledgeable for the way the average home needs to stock their pantry for getting meals on the table.

However, the one thing I have seen with every such vlog is that they often include a lot of processed prepackaged food in their pantries.  On one hand, I have learned about items I didn't know existed such as the cans of Butterfield diced ham sold at Wal-mart for $1.00 (at the moment) that I can add to scrambled eggs or quiche. 

But these other processed items contain a lot of chemicals and high amounts of salt that our diets do not allow on a regular basis.  Before I get tarred and feathered for hypocrisy because I have long recommended thirty year storage food such as Mountain House pouches to put back for a true emergency... knowing that they contain high amounts of salt and ingredients I can't pronounce.  Those pouches and #10 cans are used by hikers/campers short term or used for emergency preparedness.  

They are not usually used for everyday meals long term.  For one thing, the cost alone would be exorbitant.  Mountain House was pricey enough before the pandemic but down the size of the pouches have shrunk while prices have increased.  I don't know if there is less in their #10 cans but when I checked, the prices have increased.

On a side note... I saw an interview with the owner of Augason Farms in late 2019, before the pandemic lockdowns began, who said at that time that weather conditions were making it more difficult to get the food they needed and rising prices were inevitable.  He also said all it would take was one major crisis in the world such as the Japanese tsunami to wipe out their stock within a few weeks.  Which is exactly what happened with the pandemic.

Getting back to where I started, one of the lessons I learned when putting together a deep pantry before Y2k, was again that we used all the basic ingredients I had stocked and far less of the processed foods.  Mainly because we don't eat all that many processed foods in our everyday diet.  It does get back to "stock what you eat" and not what other people say to stock because they store well.

It is far cheaper and takes less room to store flour, sugar, salt, spices, and butter (in the freezer) or oil to use for baking than a lot of boxes of mixes. I do have on hand a couple cake mixes that I use in recipes.  I also have a large size bag of Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix that you only have to add water.  We do not have pancakes often and this mix is wonderful for last minute cooking and the pancakes taste good.

When I see cake mixes on sale for a great price, I will purchase a few to put back but no longer do I buy a lot of them, even when they are inexpensive.  They take too much of my limited pantry space.  When I start to get low on the Krusteaz pancake mix, I buy another large bag at Wal-mart (who sells the large bag at such a good price so far).

However, I have accumulated a lot of very good and very easy recipes for baking that are almost as quick as a mix.  Sometimes, as with cakes made in a 9 x 13 pan, they are just as quick.  That is one of the reasons I believe good cookbooks are an excellent investment, they provide lots of ideas and sometimes even the stories behind the recipes, making them enjoyable to research.

We finally had very cool (even cold) evenings here this past week and it was time to get out the dutch oven and make chili!  It provided meals for two dinners, one lunch, and a quart went into the deep freeze labeled for a quick meal later.  The second dinner is usually chili over baked potatoes or baked as a casserole with cornbread batter poured on top just to make it a little different... and tasty.

I can't tell you how happy I am for cooler temps for I am a terrible hot weather cook (food, who wants food?).  We will still have salads for some meals because they are good for us but now I'm making meal plans again that actually include turning on the oven for more than ten or fifteen minutes or simmering something for a long time on the stove.

I did do some research this week on shortages as well as inflation and we'll talk more about that next week.  Sometimes an entire section of shelves is empty while in other areas, they have the product but not the selection they once did. 

Are you noticing any shortages?  How about limits on how many items you can purchase?  I've seen a few limits but not a lot, so far.  Thank you also for suggestions in Comments, I always learns something.

Now, to share more favorite cookbooks.  Remember, I have collected cookbooks for decades and bought many after the price was lowered on Amazon or at library sales.  I did pay full price on Amazon for a few I knew would be worth it, like Hope's Table after hearing so many recommendations for it.

I also received quite a few lovely cookbooks from publishers when I was still doing a lot of reviews.  Most of them were given to my daughter's family.  I've given a few of my cookbooks to my son that I knew he would appreciate.

I think I have mentioned the cookbooks by Roxie Kelley and Shelly Reeves Smith (illustrator).  They are so much fun, visually stunning, handwritten (or made to look that way), and the recipes are excellent.  Every recipe is pretty much "from scratch" using basic food stuff and most are easy.  I will share my two favorites but there are others that are good.

Right now, I have Goodness Gracious out to peruse because it has some very good Fall recipes.  This is one of those cookbooks that make me smile just looking through it.  There are plenty of third party copies available... here and Kindle downloads are available... here.

I also like their book, Keeping Good Company, which is just as visually beautiful and has recipes divided by the seasons.  I pulled it out for this blog post but it will stay out until I peruse the Fall recipes again.  There are a lot of inexpensive copies available third party... here.

I like to read cookbooks from or about the Depression.  I also like to read about recipes from parts of the country and the world that depended on local (thus, usually inexpensive) food.  Two such books in my collection were gifts.

Clara's Kitchen
is fairly well known as she was one of the original YouTube cooks. This book was given to me by a local friend. I'm pretty sure Clara has gone on to her reward by now but the book is still popular.  While it does contain a lot of recipes, it also tells the story of her life during the Depression and how people survived those times.  Her book is available in hardback here and for the Kindle here.

A blog friend sent me Cross Creek Cookery when she was downsizing some of her library.  I love the book (and movie) Cross Creek, so I was glad to get it.  (Note: I have never read or watched The Yearling because I think it is too sad.)  

This book is delightful to read and has a lot of very old fashioned recipes that are inexpensive.  Although I do not plan to make anything with ingredients such as bear or alligator, there are plenty of options for "from scratch" cooking with ingredients most of us can find.  

This is more than a cookbook but I found it to be informative on what life was originally like in Florida before it became a tourist destination.  It is a good read even if you have not read Cross Creek but a must if you are a fan. I keep the cookbook next to my copy of the original book. More information can be found... here.

Added:  I probably should include Hope's Table since I mentioned it in the blog post.  I have recommended it numerous times and it truly is a wonderful "from scratch" cookbook by a young Mennonite homemaker.  More information for the hardback version is... here and the Kindle version is... here.

I hope these books give you some ideas about "from scratch" cooking.  They are probably available at the library.  Maybe?  Who knows these days but it is worth a try.

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Traveling Oltmans said...

Hi, always enjoy your blog thank you for the time and effort you spend on it. I went to buy an extra gallon of bleach. Yikes, even at Costco the price was $4.50 a gallon. So I went to the dollar tree store today and they had a few bottles and they were $1…I imagine when they run out, they won’t carry it for a while. Also I have been adding to my pantry, and have wanted to add canned fruit. One grocery store had a clearance at half price on del monte, I was astonished so bought ten cans. Here on Phoenix I haven’t noticed shortages, but rather higher prices. Then again, as you mentioned above, I don’t normally buy package foods, so can’t say how much hamburger helper there might be ;)

elizabeth said...

Clara's YouTube presence is a delight! Yes, she passed away some years ago now.

Bernideen said...

I have been making things from scratch for many years and very rarely use a mix or any kind. I just view homemade as so much more delicious. Since I retired I have the time to do that. I do buy the frozen bread rolls and dough though to keep on hand. I am working on my homemade bread but I am still not satisfied but I will keep trying. I enjoyed this post!

Vee said...

Reading cookbooks is dangerous for me so I rarely do. It's a cool, rainy Sunday morning here. Perhaps reading a cookbook would be a lovely idea. I was watching the vlog Collard Valley Cooks when Tammy mentioned cake mixes, It was very interesting, but the gist was, don't waste time baking a cake from the cake mix. I think that I will doctor one of mine with a can of pumpkin. Have a blessed week!

Ann said...

We have an extensive pantry stocked with the items we regurlarly use but have also stocked a good deal of "25 year emergency foods" because when the SHTF more than likely electricity will be sporadic if not altogether missing. That means no fridge or freezer which are amply full at this time. And if the situation goes on for a longer period of time, which is more than likely to do, we will have to contend with a shortage of water as well. So "cooking from scratch" at that time will become much more difficult -- that's when the emergency foods come into play. Whether or not we really like them may be a mute point then since they will be a necessity for survival.