The Well Stocked Pantry
Benefits to a Well Stocked Pantry
Having a well stocked pantry is the first step in managing your food. If you know what items you regularly use, you can save money by purchasing them on sale, and you’ll be ready when the dreaded ‘what’s for dinner’ question comes up.
I am about to list my idea of what a well stocked pantry looks like. Yours will be different because your family will have likes and dislikes that aren’t the same as mine. I am not going to add quantities, because every family is different in that regard too.
Cooking Oil (Olive, Vegetable, Canola, Corn, or whichever you prefer)
Cake mixes (when they go on for $1, I usually buy several to keep on hand. I have several favourite cake recipes that start with a mix)
Jello (no explanation required, who doesn’t like Jello?)
Other Stuff I Keep Around
Kraft Dinner and the like (yes, it’s ok to have it once in a while)
Condensed Soups (Tomato, Cream of Mushroom and any other ‘Cream of’ soups that you like)
Chick Peas (Garbonzo Beans)
Canned Vegetables (we keep a lot of corn, both creamed and niblets)
This probably seems like a lot, and it is. More than likely, you already have some of all of these items on hand. If you don’t, don’t think you have to go out and buy everything all at once. Watch for sales and stock up slowly.
When you buy new items, be sure to rotate your existing stuff to the front of your pantry so you use up the oldest first.
You’ll notice there are a few different ‘fast food’ items on the list and might wonder why I included them. I’m all for family style, healthy, home cooking, but sometimes there just isn’t time to make a from scratch meal. I know they might not be the healthiest options, but I believe that anything in moderation is okay, so we do have Kraft Dinner, canned ravioli and other such foods in our pantry.
A 10kg bag of flour stores nicely in a 5gallon pail.
We always buy a pail or two or cherries when they are in season. We divide the pail into ziplock bags and freeze portions to make into cheesecake, pie, etc over the winter. If we get a pail with a tight fitting lid (not all are anymore), we save it for storage. Our sugar and oatmeal are both in cherry pails right now.
Baby food jars are just the right size for spices if you happen to have baby food jars lying around and like to buy your spices in bulk.
An extra large Peanut Butter jar will hold 2kgs of icing sugar or other similar dry goods.
Ideally, you will have an actual pantry to store this stuff in, and can either buy or build appropriate shelving. If you are limited to a few cupboards, don’t despair. Non-perishable food storage isn’t limited to your kitchen. Maybe there is extra space under your guest bed where you can keep a couple cases of cans. Maybe there is a spot in the basement where you can put a small cupboard for your extra boxed goods.
When it comes to cans, make sure the shelving you’re using to store it is strong enough to hold the weight. The last thing you want is to have lightweight shelving collapse under the weight of a years’ worth of spaghetti sauce!
The important thing is to store items properly so they last as long as possible. Cans and jars require cool, dry spaces, while boxed items require a dry area that is free from any pests. As much as we do our best to keep our homes clean and pest free, everyone has that one story where a mouse, or some sort of insect infested our food. If you have an older house with a rodent problem, you may want to place some traps near where you will be storing food. In the case of insects, air-tight containers will probably do the trick.
It’s important to label your containers. Sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s not. We keep our cornstarch and icing sugar in large peanut butter jars. At Thanksgiving, we had really sweet gravy because one of the labels had fallen off and we were putting icing sugar in the turkey drippings to try to thicken them. Oops.
The basic black permanent marker is one good choice for labelling. If you want to get fancy, you might try printing labels in colours that are complimentary to your kitchen décor. I’m just not that fussy.
Organize your pantry so it’s easy to find ingredients when you need them, and so it’s easy to see at a glance what you actually have. When you get used to buying in bulk, and on sale, you might find yourself all of a sudden having way too much tomato soup because you forgot about the ten cans in the back corner of the pantry.
- Saving Money on Groceries by Making a Menu
Save money, time and stress by planning a menu.