Saturday, July 23, 2022

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Thinking about food security

It certainly is hot this week!  It wasn't too bad until the humidity set in, raising our heat index to way over 100.  One can feel the humidity even in air conditioning when it gets that high.  I am trying to keep the deck flowers alive by moving most of them and providing a shady area by moving the vinyl chairs around. The sunlight is very intense this time of the year.

I should clarify that our furnace is in good condition, even though it is older.  Every year we have had it serviced, we have been told to keep it until it begins to act up because "they don't make them like that, anymore". 

We knew the cost of natural gas was going up but just how much was a surprise. Fortunately, we had a fairly low heating bill compared to others so we can absorb the increase in our budget.  So far...

With shortages and inflation now in the back of my mind, I have been more determined to know what I have vs. what I need.  In the past, I purchased pretty much on a regular pantry cycle and then during and after COVID, that didn't always work as I would be out of something and it was not available.

Most of my pantry is rotated products that I use all the time in cooking and baking.  I deepened the pantry for those products in the past two years and I mostly purchase what is needed on Stock Up day.  There is a running list kept on the front of the refrigerator to write what is needed for my regular pantry and special items for a particular recipe.

If the past two years have taught me anything, it is that the unthinkable can happen.  I'm hearing a lot about "food insecurity" these days and while I do not personally worry about it, I also believe God has given me a responsibility to care for my own household.

It is easy to get frustrated if you are older and/or not in the best health when you see the lovely gardens and homestead videos where they are raising their own cows, pigs, etc.  I would love to do that but God knew exactly what I would feel like at this time and place. 

He has spoken to my heart about keeping a deeper than normal pantry since I was a young wife in the 1970s.  It was God that placed that seed in my heart and His leading for me to study the subject and learn what has worked (and not worked) over the decades.

So, if you were led to have a huge garden and even raise livestock, you are doing God's calling in your life.  You are working within your calling in spite of what society has pushed in the past decades.  If all you can do is stock up a few weeks of canned foods, then when you are doing your best to follow His leading... He will make up the difference in your needs.

I am learning that the most important step in preparing is obedience to God's calling and that it is different with each person.  Everyone can do something, even a little stocking up.  Not everyone can move to a farm or homestead.  However, if God calls you to the latter, then He will show you the way.

In the past two years, I also started purchasing at least one item to "put back" for a longer term emergency pantry when I go to the store during the week for dairy and produce.  I started out just purchasing one or two items that I always use but then I put more thought into it. 

For awhile, I concentrated on purchasing extra pasta since it has a long shelf life.  After reading a few articles about how the cost of meat was going up a lot, I concentrated on purchasing one or two cans of meat or fish when I was at the grocery store.  These kinds of items are not rotated, yet.  I will put them in the regular pantry rotation when needed. 

I really do pray about what God leads me to put back for an emergency.  Mostly, I listen to those that I have learned to trust regarding what is expected to either raise in price a lot and/or be harder to obtain in the future.  Usually this has been a food item but I have also used my budget for things like the store brand of Benedryl and other over-the-counter drugs that have been in short supply.

It always surprises me how you can stock up for an emergency a little at a time.  We don't need very much extra put back but it is an easy way for even larger families to stock up by buying a little more than we do.  When we pray about what to purchase, God will always lead.  He knows what the future  holds.

I recently removed all my pantry items from kitchen cabinets to check dates and get an idea of what I have and what I need.  It took awhile but eventually everything was returned and much more orderly.  Time goes by so fast and I should do that more often.

I was surprised to find a can of soup with a Use By date the end of 2021.  Mainly because I had used more recently purchased cans of that soup, not realizing this one was tucked in the back.  Fortunately, it is still good so it now sits front and center on a cabinet to use soon.

It was mentioned in Comments a couple weeks ago (Vee?) about flip top cans. They aren't the best for long term storage, if you plan to keep canned foods for a few years without rotating.  They have been known to break their seal.  However, from everything I have read, most are fine if used within a year or two and you should never stack any other can on top of a flip top can.

I have some canned goods with a flip top can and I try to remember to put those cans on top of a regular can if I am stacking them.  I have never had one come open that way.  I expect that if you need to stack other cans on top of them, it would work best if you put the other cans in a cardboard flat to protect them.

I can usually find empty cardboard flats (big and small) at Sam's Club in their bin.  I usually pick up at least a couple even if I don't need them at the time.  Other grocery stores used to have these available for customers to take free of charge but I haven't seen them for awhile.

I started seeing a lot of warnings last year to always check the Use By dates when making a purchase.  A lot of people were noticing dates that were within months when it should be at least one or two years out.  Some people even found past due dates.  I had that happen before but noticed it each time since I check Use By dates at the store.

I mentioned it before but it is also important to check for dents in cans and crushed corners in boxes, etc.  They are showing up a lot more than they once did at stores.  Dented cans are usually good for immediate use but I would not put them on the shelf if I am waiting to use them.

This week I tried a new "pantry" recipe and my husband and I both enjoyed it.  We like black bean burgers but previously I had made them with a mix that has additives my husband should not be eating.  I have looked for a good black bean burger recipe for years and they were usually either complicated or made from ingredients I don't keep in the pantry.

This recipe is made with things I keep on hand, it mixes up quickly, and you can make it either mild tasting (like I did) or spicy (as the original recipe indicated) just by the kind of salsa you use.  I use mild salsa all the time, it is one of the pantry items I always try to keep well stocked.

Black Bean Burger

  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups cooked dry beans)
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup flour (I used all purpose but they suggest oat flour or gluten free if necessary)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 1 tablespoon oil for pan (I needed more than that)

Mash black beans in a bowl with fork or potato masher (I used a ground beef masher).  Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and stir (or use your hands to mix like I did).  You may need to add more salsa if too dry and flour if it isn't holding together firmly (1 tablespoon at a time).

Form into 4 patties and brown in a skillet with oil on medium heat about five minutes the first side and three to four minutes the second side.  Black bean burgers burn easily so you do need to keep an eye on them.  

I served them without a bun, topped with extra salsa and chopped onions.  However, I have served black bean burgers I used to make from a mix as regular burgers and putting cheese on top.

These were delicious and while we do not eat vegan, your vegan friends will probably like them without any added dairy.  They are also gluten free if using the right flour and making certain the oats are gluten free (not processed where any gluten products are also processed).

The original recipe is from Jenn Sebestyen of the Veggie Inspired blog (and other social media).

I hope you have a good week!  Remain diligent, always seeking God for wisdom.

Mentioned in this Blog Post

Ground Meat Chopper (I use this of many other foods than ground meat!)... here.

Image:  Cookbook and Apples


Vee said...

Thank you for the extra tips on flip-top cans. I would never have thought of them.

So much to consider. I must keep on "listening" as that was your best tip of all some posts ago.

Mama Squirrel said...

We had been thinking of making salmon patties, but the price makes it no longer a frugal meal for us. Maybe we'll try bean burgers instead.

Mandy said...

I appreciate your wisdom about keeping a deep pantry. It's so important nowadays. I am continually trying to keep our home pantry stocked as much as possible. Great post!

Rachel said...

I haven't been reading blogs for a couple of years, but coming back to yours and one or two others I've always enjoyed. My husband follows world news more than I do, and he says we are in for some hard times worldwide. I have been stocking uo on items where I can. My best deal lately was Progresso soup for .33 a can. Two varieties, I got 8 cans. Wanted to leave some for others. The black bean burgers sound healthy and frugal. Not sure my husband would go for it though, lol.