So, yesterday I wrote about my reasoning behind having a well stocked pantry. Today I want to share with you the how's of building said pantry! When I first thought of doing this, I got overwhelmed at the mental list I had going: veggies, fruits, sauces, soups, noodles...oh and what about shampoos, detergents, deodorants....which led to cleaning supplies, paper products, OH MY! I realized right away that if I didn't get a systematic process going I was going to end up with one of two results: a)I was going to end up obsessed with building a sporadic inventory, or b) I would be overwhelmed and just quit. Knowing my type-A tendencies, it probably would have ended up the first scenario, and I would have become anxious and panicky because of not having a game-plan. Yes, I admit that I am a recipe follower, not a 'pinch of this, dash of that' kinda gal. Thankfully, a dear friend introduced me to a fabulous plan that really helped me develop a process that I could build on incrementally as my budget and space allowed.
First off, I watched a series of youtube videos by Wendy Dewitt. While I don't necessarily agree with a lot of her theology, I will wholeheartedly say that this lady has got food storage down! Each video is about 8 minutes for a total of an hour or so, and I will encourage you to watch them all as she has great tips for using vacuum sealers, solar ovens, etc. As for the food storage,here's the plan in a nutshell: Take 14 index cards and write the name of a dinner recipe on one side of each. These will be your 14 meals that you will have once every two weeks. Now, on the back of each card write the ingredients and amount that you need for each meal. Simple, right? Simple but brililant!
Personally, I tried to pick meals that had the following criteria:
1-They needed to be hearty and filling
2-(As much as possible) They needed to be complete meals (have protein, veggies, and starch included)
3-They needed to be fairly inexpensive
4-They needed little to no perishable ingredients, and preferably overlap ingredients with other recipes..
So, after all that, here is my list:
1. Garlic Spaghetti
2.Spaghetti with meat marinara
3.Chicken and Dumplings
4.Vegetable Beef and Mac soup
5.White Chicken Chili
8.Salmon (or Tuna) Noodle Casserole
9.Ramen Noodle Stir Fry with veggies
10.Swedish Meat balls (or meat sauce) over egg noodles or rice
12.Red Beans and Rice
13. Rice Pizza Casserole
14.Tomato Chicken Rice Casserole
Now, I do not necessarily have the money or space to build a one-year supply of food stores. Instead, my goal was to aim for a 6 month supply. So, I took the ingredients and multiplied by 13, figuring we would eat that meal 13 times over 6 months. As for breakfast, I planned that we will probably eat oatmeal and eggs from our chickens. I thought it was very interesting that Mrs. Dewitt took the time to research historical eating patterns during depressions and famines. As she noted, people tended to eat a large breakfast, a large lunch (dinner), and then a lighter supper. I my case I'm planning for an evening meal of bread and jelly with a beverage (ie tea, coffee, milk, etc). So, on 2 more cards, I figured out how much oatmeal, milk, cinnamon, molasses (to make brown sugar), sugar, and raisins I would need to feed my family bowls of oatmeal each day, as well as the ingredients I would need to make a loaf of bread each day along with canned butter. We make cases of jelly every summer with local berries regardless-although I did figure I would need to plan on sugar and pectin for that. I also planned on cake ingredients, powdered sugar (for icing), etc. for birthdays and special occasions.
Now, this is quite a bit of homework to do, and may take a full evening or two-especially if you're not typically a menu planner. To avoid overwhelming you at this point, I'm going to stop my entry here for today. Next time I will show you how I took this ingredient list and broke it down into a manageable shopping list that was not scary and kept me from wandering store aisles for hours at a time. In the meantime, start working on your recipe cards.
I want to encourage you-YOU CAN DO THIS! It may sound weird now, but as you start to see your pantry shelves fill up with healthy food and supplies, there is a feeling of excitement and thankfulness. I pray that our families never have to use these supplies, but if you do need them, what a gift it will be!!
Until next time, blessings to you and your homestead,
Hillary At Home