Nothing is as essential to being self-sufficient as food production and storage of food. Today I’m going to touch on some ideas for stocking the basic must have pantry. My goal in my pantry stocking is to have enough of the staples put up so that in the case of emergency I am set at least for a few months…or if my older boys all descend at once I have plenty of food at least for a week or two!
When I designed our house 15 years ago our boys 4, 6, and 8 and I knew that in the teenage years I would need some major food storage capacity. My pantry is good size but you don’t need a designated room for food storage. For many garden vegetables a cool garage is great. Spare bedrooms, hall closets, many different places can be use for food.
I think food storage is a matter of priorities. I have heard from many people that they just don’t have the room for keeping extra food. Yet their closets are overflowing with never worn clothing, or cabinets full of appliances they seldom if ever use. I don’t have a problem with these things but I would not give up perfectly good storage to keep them when I could keep an extra bag of wheat in there.
When I started our pantry from scratch I took the time to keep a journal for a couple of months of what we ate. I did not want to purchase a lot of things that I would seldom use. I came up with a basic list of ‘must haves’ at all times from that journal and then fleshed the pantry out from there when I added new recipes and needed new ingredients.
Here is my list of staples. With this I know that now matter what happens I will have something for dinner or in case of prolonged power outage or outbreak of sickness I know we will not go hungry.
- Canned tomatoes, sauce, and paste (soup base, base for most pasta sauce)
- Jams and Jellies
- Fruit Sauces, apricot, peach, and apple
- Fruit Syrups (we eat a lot of pancakes and waffles)
- Vegetable Stock
Bulk Grains (purchased in 25# and 50#)
- Wheat (both white and red for fresh whole wheat flour)
- Oat Groats (for grinding into flour)
- Rolled Oats (cookies, oatmeal, crisps, bread)
- Cracked Wheat (breads)
- Spelt (flour for bread)
- Quinoa (cereal and bread)
- Corn (for cornmeal)
- Brown Rice
- Olive Oil (breads and cooking)
- Canola Oil (breads)
- Sesame Oil (Asian/Indian cooking)
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Brown Sugar
- Egg Replacer
- Spices especially cinnamon
Dried Beans and Nuts
- Yellow and green split peas
- Small white
- Walnuts (snacking, breads, trail mix)
- Almonds (snacking, trail mix)
- Cashews (cashew milk, trail mix)
- Peanuts (trail mix)
- Raisins (granola, pie, cinnamon rolls, bread, trail mix)
- Canned Pineapple (smoothies and pizza)
- Coconut Milk (smoothies and chilled pumpkin soup)
- Rice Milk
- Wild Rice
- Tea (mama needs her tea)
- Honey (baking, granola, tea)
- Nutritional yeast (vegan sauces, popcorn, toast)
- Mustard (beans, salads, sandwiches)
- Shredded coconut (breads and granola)
- Dried cranberries (trail mix, granola, snacks)
- Various dried whole wheat pastas
- Cocoa Powder
- Balsamic Vinegar (dressings and flavorings)
- Peanut Butter
- Cornstarch (thickener)
- Peas, corn, green beans, pureed pumpkin and squash, spinach
- Freezer jams
- Ice Cream (husband’s indulgence)
- Roasted Peppers (breads and pizza)
- Enough for each person to drink and cook with for 1 month (this takes some planning and some room)
This looks like a long list but for us these are the things, along with fresh vegetables and fruits, are what I have come to know are the basics for what I cook. With the exception of my bulk grains most don’t take up much room even when purchased in larger than usual quantities. I also try to store in glass as much as possible. It is easy to clean and doesn’t leach chemicals over long storage periods…not that I’m sure that Tupperware does but just in case.
A few tips for getting started stocking you pantry…
- Buy in quantity when you find a good sale.
- Look at the dates when possible and buy the freshest.
- Don’t buy more than you can reasonably use before its past its prime.
- Make sure you have a spot to properly store (example cool dry dark for grains)
- Don’t over buy if that means kicking spouse out of bed to use it for storage! Moderation in everything…
- Rotate your pantry…put the items you just bought at the back of the shelf and use the oldest first.
- Check things like flours and grains for moth or mice infestation…take care of promptly before they get into the rest. Better yet store in varmint proof containers.
- Start slow…take the time to know what you really need and use.
Remember to just smile when your friends and family tease you about being Noah stocking up for the flood…cause you know who’s doorstep they’ll be standing on when the next disaster hits!
So do you have any tips on food storage…what’s in your pantry?
Come back Monday when we can talk about how to store in glass, where to find it…and how to paint on it!
Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids…and a camel!
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