An Appealing Pantry
Stocking the Pantry With Food Your Family Will Actually Eat
Today, we are excited to introduce Charley Cooke, who knows a lot about simple living and healthy eating. She is a wife, mother, homeschooler and blogger raising 4 girls in beautiful Southern Oregon along with her husband. You can read about her slice of life at CookesFrontier.
Part of having a prudent and well stocked pantry is filling it with food. But when you are new to thinking in terms of long-term storage, preparedness and putting food by this can be such a daunting task. There are many forms and lists out there but when I would read through them, I would see item after item that my family wouldn’t eat. I became easily discouraged and was lamenting about how hard it is to get starting stocking a practical pantry full of foods and items I would actually use and need when a good friend unintentionally shed some light on my problem. She said, “Stock what you need to make meals you enjoy and you should have no problem.”
Why had I not thought of this before?! Of course this was the answer! I immediately sat down and made a list of all the meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts) that my family enjoys. From there I took 14 dinners and wrote down every. single. item I would need to make each meal. Suddenly it became so easy. I condensed the list to group like items. For instance, many of my meals used salt and pepper so my final list reflected that by only showing salt and pepper as ingredients once. I noticed that we eat a lot of rice, pinto beans, black beans and wheat for bread. Those items I knew I could purchase in larger quantities because we eat them often. We don’t eat lentils or some other types of beans, so there was no reason to purchase those for my pantry.
I then took my list of meals to the store and shopped for the 14 meals. Every time I could afford to do so, I purchased double ingredients and put the extras into my pantry. I shopped warehouse clubs, restaurant supply stores and bulk bins at large grocery stores for the items I knew I wanted to purchase in bulk. Pasta, legumes, spices, herbs and baking needs like flour, sugars, honey, oil, baking soda, baking powder and oats all store very well and can be justified by buying in large quantities. By storing what I knew would use to cook meals I am confident that I’m spending my grocery dollars wisely. Each time I would go shopping, I would pick 14 new meals off of the list and shop the same way. Some of my pantry items I couldn’t possibly store long term, like cheese from the grocery. For those items, I choose freeze dried or dehydrated for my pantry and their fresh counterparts for my weekly meals. Every time you shop, it’s like putting 2 weeks worth of meals into your pantry.
If you are so inclined, growing a garden and canning can go a long way towards getting your pantry stocked. Jams, jellies, canned fruits, applesauce, salsa and tomatoes are all every simple to can up and can add freshness as well as variety to your meals. Pressure canned meats and vegetables are a nice way to have those items in the pantry and not have to rely on a freezer. Of course it’s not for everyone, but it is a nice skill to learn.
Chaya’s Pantry: I like to have soup mixes in jars for easy meals.
Having a pantry stocked with items your family will actually eat is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1) Make a list– list meals you know your family will eat and write down every ingredient.
2) Shop wisely– double up on grocery items that will store well and consider shopping bulk food, warehouse stores or restaurant supply stores for items you will use often. Buying in large quantities and storing them properly will ensure a stocked pantry as well as wise use of your grocery budget.
3) Branch out– learn to garden and can to further stock those shelves!
Thank you, Charley, for helping us stick to the basics…no one wants wasted food because of poor planning. Let me share something I learned just tonight! We opened a can of summertime beets and the clove was too strong for anyone to enjoy them; when you are preserving your harvest, use a variety of recipes so you aren’t “stuck” with 7 jars of the same exact thing in the event it was not your favorite!
Here at Pantry Paratus, we want to encourage everyone to produce, prepare, and preserve their own harvest!
Come back soon, Charley!
Interested in using jars for your own “pre-packaged” meals? Charla’s recipe pictured above came out of this book: