With the rationing of toilet paper in my recent memory, I am a little nervous when I hear words like “supply chain issues” and “container hold-ups” everywhere I go. I have been wanting to build up a pantry for some time. Do you have any tips on how to go about doing this and keeping my family fed?
Pantry building is something near and dear to my heart. Years back, in managing our household with several small children and lamenting frequent trips to the store, my husband suggested we build a grocery store, of sorts, in our home. So we began to build a food storage system which slowed down our grocery trips and helped our household supply chain, which in turn made us less dependent on the grocery store in a pinch.
Long term food storage and a stocked pantry helped me shop our basement food store before Kroger. It really is a strategic way to plan ahead and care for your family. It also allows you to be generous and ready to help others. Here are some basics.
What to stock:
If you are wondering what to stock in a pantry, here is a link to a comprehensive list of suggested foods to keep on hand. Tailor it to suit your family’s tastes, of course. You can buy ahead on sale items, dedicating perhaps $10-20 per trip toward your pantry stock up. You may be surprised at how quickly these little efforts yield fruit.
How to use:
As you acquire your pantry items, using your stored goods is a matter of importance. Knowing how to cook from scratch is your best tool. Learning where to use that canned pumpkin, how to make a loaf of bread, or how to make a pot of chili will give you almost unlimited options.
And if that seems overwhelming, start small. Cooking is a learned skill and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Be willing to try new things and remember failures are part of that training too.
Once your basic pantry seasonings and staples are purchased (over time) you can work on deepening the quantities of heavily used items (i.e. keeping 3 garlic powders on hand rather than 1, or storing 25 lbs of sugar in a 5 gallon bucket rather than one 5 lb. bag). Take regular inventory of your supplies and keep them filled in as you maintain your grocery shopping. Unless you need to use your reserves, try not to use up items without replenishing them soon after.
Linked here is a nice collection of recipes for cooking with your pantry staples:
Space and cost limitations are obvious hindrances to building a pantry, but neither need to be stoppers. You will need to use storage ingenuity if you are short on space. You may think you need a walk-in pantry in order to shelve extra dry and canned goods, but that is not so. Aside from your kitchen, think of additional places to stash food…under your bed in flat plastic boxes, in food-grade 5 gallon buckets which you store in the corner of the coat closet, on 2×4 shelving you build for your basement or garage?
As you are able, it is great to acquire a full size freezer for getting the best values on meat. A freezer is an expense, but it doesn’t need to be first rate. Keep an ear out for friends and family looking to get rid of a freezer. Check on second-hand websites. Ensure though, that whatever you purchase is an energy efficient freezer. Energy efficiency is important, otherwise your bulk grocery savings will be eaten up by a higher energy bill.
Food with Faith
If you are truly nervous about your family being fed, take the matter to the Lord in prayer. Ask him to help you stretch what you have and to find creative ways to fill tummies. He will provide!
If the need is more pressing, there are also many community avenues ready to help in times of need. Check with your church or local food pantries, they are eager to help!
Hope this was helpful!