Stocking the Pantry

vintage food pantryLong ago before we had stores on every corner and shopping centers popping everywhere, people kept a large supply of food on hand. Lack of transportation, and weather conditions dictated how people stored food. There was the old fashioned root cellar, a basement full of shelves lined with staples. In many parts of the world, people still do have a food pantry, or extra storage areas just for food and some bottled water. It’s wise to purchase a little extra each week and tuck it away.

Several years ago I taught classes at grocery stores and health food stores, and gave some practical advice about “putting food by.” Everyone has an idea of what they have on hand to eat and drink if there was an emergency. The average household has less than a 2 week supply. That’s correct- 2 weeks.  75% of people under the age of 30 eat out 5 nights a week. More on the weekends. We’ve become accustomed to fast food, the deli, and frozen foods. We hardly give it a thought where food comes from.

As 2014 comes to a close in less than a month, perhaps this is a good time to give some thought to home food storage, a water supply, vitamins, produce and fresh herbs. Most households waste food, especially fresh produce. The best plans for stocking and getting the most out of your food dollar begins on paper. Buy yourself a notebook, and  begin making a list.

If you shop weekly, this will be easier than a once month “over-loaded” shopping cart. Go by yourself, eat first so you won’t be tempted, and go on a Monday. Monday is the best day for food shopping, and do it early in the day, or at closing when bakery products and fresh produce are marked down.

Week one- Pick up salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, jelly, peanut butter. Clear out a kitchen shelf or two, and add these items to the pantry.

Week two – Pick up a can of tuna, and one of salmon, high protein foods, and still a bargain. If you like sardines, add a can of those. Dry soup mixes are better than canned, so add a box to the shopping cart. Buy the largest bottle of vegetable oil, so you won’t need it again for awhile. Add a box of whole wheat crackers to the list. Put this in the food storage area.

Week  three- By a bag of brown rice, better for you than white. Whole wheat pasta, or spinach pasta,  no oodles of noodles ! Beans are good, dried beans or canned, 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, 2 cans of tomato paste. Put this away on the shelves.

Week four- Loose produce is cheaper, so buy 2 or 3 apples, a few oranges, and some banana’s. Pick up a canister of raisins and box of Old Fashioned oatmeal, the kind you cook. Add a box of teabags to the pantry this week. Enjoy the produce while it’s fresh, and store the raisins, oatmeal, and tea bags on the shelves.

See where I’m going with this? Buy 5 to 10 different items each week, and put them away for winter. Loose herbs in the produce section are cheaper and better for you than stale and dusty herbs in jars. Even if you only use fresh herbs a few times, they are a better bargain than store bought. Surplus fresh herbs can be frozen for later meals, or dried for storage.

Eating out is a treat, I do it myself, but I also shop, clip coupons and look for bargains. Simple and wholesome food is not nearly as expensive as fast food or already prepared foods. Pick up some freezers bags and storage containers to keep food fresh and free from “pantry pests.” Soups and stews are good for the waistline and the pocketbook. Eggs are a bargain, and loaded with protein. Have meatless meals 2 or 3 nights a week. Pasta with a vegetarian sauce, sprinkled with cheese, whole wheat rolls, lettuce and carrot salad. You can eat well, and still stay on a food budget.

Blessed Be, sweet ones.

~ Meadow Walker

An excellent video – How to Start a Prepper Food Pantry – Many thanks to Jamie of Guild Brook Farm for one of the best How to Food Prep videos on You Tube.

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