The sad reality of our modern world is that most people would find themselves in a desperate state should they, for any reason, not be able to run down to the local grocery store to stock up at least once every couple weeks. It wasn’t too very long ago that every household kept a well stocked pantry with at least a six to eight weeks food supply at their beckon call. In years past this was a matter of necessity, in most cases for the modern homestead it is more an issue of convenience and thrift. If you didn’t have a fully stocked pantry the family was enduring some kind of financial hardship and their family, friends and neighbors would be there to help. This just isn’t the case any longer. Well, today I am going to share with you a technique that can easily be implemented in any home to create a well stocked pantry that would make your grandparents proud! I won’t tell you what to stock up on, I’ll just give you a super easy and inexpensive technique for creating the ultimate self-sufficient homestead pantry!
The first thing you are going to need is a notebook, chalkboard, app on your phone…whatever! You just need to be able to make an exhaustive list of everything that you eat. You’ll want to keep the list going for something like 2 to 4 weeks. I’m talking about every ingredient that you use to make a meal, or snack, every time. If you open a can of tomato sauce to make spaghetti make sure you put down the sauce, the noodles, that clove of garlic, the zucchini you sliced up for the sauce…everything. Anytime you use the same ingredient (i.e. tomato sauce) just put a hash mark next to it. If you open two cans of sauce that night put two marks. You get the picture. It is important that you do this for everything, even the midnight raid on the candy jar…everything goes on the list! Try to get the vast majority of ingredients that you use listed down here. I know you’re thinking that you already know everything your family eats, but bear with me here it’s a system and it’s important that you get it all listed.
The next thing you will do is evaluate every ingredient on the list. Create a master shopping list from this. You want to be looking specifically for shelf stable items first, they’ll go on the top of the shopping list. They will be the first things that you begin your new pantry stocking regimen on. Once you’ve identified all of the shelf stable items pick one item from the list (it doesn’t matter which one just pick one!). The next time you go shopping add a few more of that item to the cart. So, say you used seven cans of tomato sauce since the last trip to the store buy ten or twelve. Concentrate on one item at a time. Do this every time you go shopping until you have a 4-6 week supply of that ingredient on hand. Once you’ve done that move onto the next list item, and repeat until you have that 4-6 week supply of every shelf stable ingredient on your list. When you get to that point you’re not done yet, repeat the process one more time until you have an 8-12 week supply of everything on your list. At this point you are done stocking your shelf stable items and are in a maintenance mode. You’ll always have an 8 to 12 week supply of those products in your pantry…it’s a good start!
One thing to keep in mind while you’re building your stockpile of shelf stable staple goods is organization. A wise lady once told me that it doesn’t matter how much stuff you have, if you don’t know where it is it does you no good! In that light I would like to suggest you
organize your pantry shelves just the way they do at a grocery store. You want to make rows of the same item with the oldest product at the front of the row. As you remove them pull them to the front and replace with the new stuff at the back of the row. That way you’re always using the oldest item first, and all of that ingredient is right there in the same area, so you know exactly what you have. In order to maintain your supply keep a copy of that master list that you made earlier and just put a check next to whatever item you take out of the pantry and you’ll have your shopping list for the next time you go to town, and you’ll never drop below that 8 to 12 week supply of your staple food items!
In part 2 of Creating the Self-Sufficient Homestead Pantry, I’ll go into the rest of the items on your list and explore different techniques for making them shelf stable and ways to stock up on those items….