We have car insurance in case we get into a car accident. We have life insurance should something happen to us and our daughter needs to be taken care of. We have house insurance should we have a fire or storm and need to rebuild. We have health insurance should we need to be hospitalized or see a doctor. But another insurance that is a necessity for us is food insurance. We have food insurance in case of sickness, unemployment, or a tough season. Both of my grandmothers always had food insurance living in N.H. with the threat of being snowed in for weeks at a time.
Food insurance is a well stocked pantry.
This verse has motivated me so much in preparing my pantry:
"She is like the merchants' ships; she brings her food from afar." Proverbs 31:14
What an incredible sentence.
Years ago when I began learning how to stock my pantry, I thought a lot about this verse as I shopped. I noticed that the Proverbs woman is likened to more than one ship when it comes to gathering food for her family. Also very large merchant ships at that! She seeks out food even from far away. So I suspected early on that if I was to take a look into her pantry or root cellar, it would be very well stocked. I also suspected that she would be doing the bulk of this gathering in the summer/early fall when the crops were plentiful. Food would have been stored in a multitude of ways. And I bet she took advantage of every opportunity to be ready for the winter months ahead.
So I got serious this past summer in building up my pantry. Instead of stocking my pantry for a few months' time, which I had been doing for many years, I decided to stock my pantry for six to twelve months. First, I made a list of all our most used grains/pastas/dried beans/flours. I looked at my supply on hand, figured out how much we would use in that time frame, and bought what I needed in bulk. I couldn't get everything in bulk, but I tried if I could as it was more cost efficient. I stored these items in large plastic containers in my pantry.
These are my bulk items:
Gluten free 1 to 1 flour
Gluten free grain flour
Gluten free pastas
I wrote everything I bought in a notebook with prices and location so that I would have a better idea next year what I needed. How did we afford this? Well, that is another letter. 😊 But essentially, I did a "no spend year" in 2019 so that I could build up our savings. It was an amazing year.
Some other dry good items that I stored including nuts, tea, and coffee which I got in larger amounts, but not in bulk were:
Corn masa flour
My next food items to locate and buy were anything in cans. I can some things from our garden, but these were other items that I wanted to have on hand.
After I got all the canned goods I thought we would need, I turned my attention to anything in jars. Here are those items:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Braggs Liquid Aminos
Herbs & Spices
It really helped me to go in order and to do it in the summer as I was not homeschooling. I could build my pantry more efficiently as I paid attention to each group of foods that my family eats. In the middle of all this pantry building, my garden and my daughter's garden started to really produce. I had three dehydrators going many days as I dried so many vegetables from the garden. I put my dried foods into glass jars on my pantry shelves. While fruit was on sale in the summer, I dried a lot of fruit as well. This helped to build up the vegetable and fruit part of my pantry, along with canning things from the garden, too. I have many butternut squash and delicata squash stored as well in my pantry.
Meat was a bit more difficult to figure out. So I pulled everything out of my freezer to see what I had on hand, wrote it all down, and then bought from each protein group where I needed. My freezer is in my pantry, so I consider it part of my pantry as well. (I also dried some ground beef and kept that in my fridge.) In my freezer I keep:
Lastly, I turned to toiletries and cleansers. I knew this was the last group of things I was dealing with, so it was kind of fun by this point. I had so much hard work behind me, for building a pantry is a lot of work. Especially as you are preserving things from your garden in the heat of the summer. But there is something so wonderful about watching your pantry grow all summer in time for the winter season. I remember my paternal grandmother having an amazing pantry. As a young girl, it always looked like a little store to me in her small walk-in closet off her kitchen. She never had a garden or canned anything, but she knew how to build a pantry that would take her through the harsh winters on the east coast. My maternal grandmother, who also lived on the east coast, had such a large pantry that when she died it was dispersed among five families as there was so much stored food. She, too, never canned or had a garden, but what an amazing pantry that was stored on those shelves in her cellar.
Here is what I bought for my toiletries and cleansers:
Bar Keepers Friend
When I got to September, I was pretty much done. So the whole project took me about 4 months. I've never enjoyed anything more. I love walking into my pantry, which is a walk-in closet off my kitchen. It is my food insurance.
I feel like my grandmothers. I feel ready for winter.