Monday, January 10, 2011

The Practical Pantry: Why?

Before you get started on a pantry it's a good idea to think about your motivation for building a food storage pantry. For me the top two reasons are healthier eating that fits our budget and security during a crisis. Over the past year we have transitioned to all whole grains and a primarily vegetarian diet. With a family of eight this translates to a lot of wheat, rice and beans. Lots of beans. The crisis aspect became crystal clear two years ago when I was one week away from delivering my fifth baby. Our area experienced a devastating ice storm. We were without electricity for a week, some were without power much longer. This really got me to thinking about how we would have fed ourselves during this crisis if we had not been able to get to a place with electricity. Pretty solemn thought.
There are some other benefits to having a pantry that I certainly have enjoyed, one being the savings of buying our staple foods by bulk. You can see significant savings when you compare the per pound price of oatmeal at the grocery store to buying a 25 pound bag from a co-op. Another benefit is fewer trips to the store. Believe me, those cupboards have to be really bare to get me to haul everyone to the store. Now I can just go to the pantry and decide what I want to make. It may not be what I was craving or what I had planned but it's always filling and delicious. And for me, knowing that I am feeding my family the best quality of food at a much better price makes that steaming bowl of stew and bread made from fresh ground wheat even yummier.
An important thing to understand is that building a pantry is not about fear and it is not hoarding. I'm sure many of you know someone who prepared for the worst for Y2K. In fact I just used up the last of my parents soft wheat they stored for Y2K. The good news is that 12 years after they purchased it, it was still good. Properly stored food can last a long time. Many people at that time were motivated by extreme fear. You should be motivated by a desire to best feed your family and meet your budget goals.
Proverbs 21:20 says, "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but the foolish man devours all he has." So even Solomon agreed that there is wisdom in storing food for your family to use. For me it would be hoarding if I was buying up large amounts of food when there was a general shortage. In fact that is one definition of hoarding, amassing and hiding a supply of something in a time of scarcity. However, in a time of plenty, it is common sense to plan for your family and others you may be with if there was a crisis. Crisis can come in may guises. Personal crisis such as a job loss or illness could have you relying on your food storage or any other crisis personal or more widespread. Again, you can't operate in fear, but use wisdom. Joseph in Egypt is a great example of this.
Now that some of the whys are covered and you have thought about reasons to start your own pantry we can get to the planning of it. This is going to be fun!


Anonymous said...

My husband and I keep a store of extra non-perishables in our basement. It is sooo handy to have more than what you need. Our state, New Hampshire, publishes messages in our paper advising the public to have a food and medical surplus of at least 3 weeks in case of emergency. We are prepared for more. It's so true, it will be used eventually and brings us great peace of mind to be prepared for weather, job loss, illness, or emergency. Well done! Of course, my pantry isn't as pleasing to the eye as yours is!
-Kate in NH

Susan said...

My experience with a pantry goes back to my mother. She is of the WWII generation and has always had a good-sized cupboard and set of shelves set aside for canned goods, preserves, dry goods in cans and jars, and when freezers came along a stock of frozen goods from our gardens and from meat sales. She once said she shot for being able to feed us for a good month, if an emergency came along.
I never thought to ask her how she managed to use the old stuff before putting in new ... if she had a system. I never saw dates on anything, but the food was always good and I do remember her going to and fro from the pantry to bring ingredients she needed for this or that! Must have been magic!

Green Acres in the City said...

I have wanted to start doing this. I would love any hints you could share.