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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Stocking Your Pantry

I do not know about you, but I am one of these people who have a terrible time trying to get my stock-up pantry really stocked up! I know that some of us have difficulty because of limited finances and others just do not take the time to replenish their stock as they use it. I read all these articles about how to stock up your pantry and most of them say to buy large quantities of one item at a time. Personally, I think purchasing items that “go together” to make a meal or part of a meal makes more sense. Having 10 lbs of spaghetti or macaroni noodles in your pantry without the other ingredients to make a meal does not seem very practical at all. Therefore, I will grab some noodles and then cans of soups, vegetables, tomato sauce and prepared spaghetti sauce in order to make a complete dish.

Most of us are paid either once or twice a month, so shopping every week is out of the question Most of us have very little money left over from payday to payday to use for extra groceries. Two things might work for you. Either add an extra $20 to your grocery list every two weeks that you will use strictly for purchasing items for your stock-up pantry, or else set aside that amount and once a month, you will have $40 to use all at one time for those supplies. Those of you with larger families, you may want to increase this amount. If you do this faithfully every month, at the end of the year, you will have spent $480 on extra supplies to stock your pantry.

I know that most of us utilize our grocery store flyers, concentrating on sale items to plan our meals and shopping. If there are items on sale, grab some extra cans of vegetables, fruits, coffee etc. Perhaps there is an extra good buy on meats, so go ahead and get an extra roast or a chicken to put into the freezer to use later.

As you put together your supplies, do not think of your pantry just as being there for “disaster supplies” think of all the items that you use on a regular basis that you would like to have “backups.” In my pantry, that will include all the fixings to make homemade breads and biscuits, soups, vegetables, a variety of dried beans, canned fruits, both cider and white vinegar, sugar and spices. I will also stock up on food for my animals, toilet paper, dish detergent, laundry detergent and bleach.

The decision on what to stock up on is determined by where you live, your family and your lifestyle. Living in Montana or South Dakota where winters are long and brutally cold, your decisions will be different from those living in sunny California or Arizona. If you are concerned about power outages, slick roads from ice and snow or being snowbound, you may want to store mostly canned goods rather than putting a lot of food into a freezer!

Living in Oklahoma, we never know from one year to the next what our winters are going to be like. Some aren’t bad at all, with just a dusting of snow that might last a day or two and then you have other winters where you have iced over streets, power lines down for weeks at a time and no way to get to the store or a way to prepare your meals. I will also be sure to pick up bottled water, and paper plates & plastic utensils, incase pipes burst or freeze and there is no water to drink or wash dishes.

That leads to the next problem you might have and that is have you stocked up on foods that do not need to be heated or cooked. If you do not have a fireplace, do you have any alternative source prepared to cook food or keep your home warm? If I hear that we are anticipating bad weather, I will start making up some dishes ahead of time that I can put into the freezer, but not get too carried away just incase we lose power, I don’t want to have them go bad.

Since I do not have a fireplace, a bar-b-q grill (that I could use outside), or a wood burning stove in my home, if I lose power, I am up a creek without a paddle! I have decided to go to the local party store, where they sell the little wire stands with aluminum pans that sit in them and have the little cans of “sterno” that you put underneath to keep your food warm. A friend used them at Thanksgiving last year and they worked wonderful!

One of the main things to remember is every time you use products out of your stock-up pantry replace the item, in fact buy an extra at the same time. When you buy new products, always put them at the back of the row rather than in the front. This way you will always be rotating your stock and nothing will get outdated.

Having a pantry filled with food just makes good common sense. We never know in this economy when prices will go sky-high making items we are used to buying unaffordable. There is also the chance that you could become unable to work due to sickness or injury; or possibly be laid off from your job, or natural disasters. You need to be as prepared as you can for all possibilities. Even if you cannot afford to spend an extra $40 a month, do what you can, even if it is only $10 a month.

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