You’ve asked to see my pantry. I have to do a little ‘splaining before you get to see it.
- I’m not an alarmist. I don’t stockpile food for any particular reason. I buy lots of whatever is on sale that we will eat. I can everything I find that’s in season.
- I believe in being prepared . . just in case. If you’ve lived where there are hurricanes, snow storms, tornadoes, earthquakes . . any kind of disaster, you know that a whole lot of the panic and problems occur when people have no food, no water, and no way to prepare their food. I hope I’ll never be the one standing in line at the grocery store when a storm is predicted or when there’s been a disaster and food is in short supply. I’ve seen it happen when snow storms and hurricanes are predicted. I’ve seen it happen when ice storms have happened and trucks can’t get here and I’ve heard how horrible it was when the hurricanes hit Louisiana and all kinds of food were in short supply.
- If you’re the kind of person who goes to the grocery store every day for what you’re fixing for dinner — whether it’s because you don’t have a place to store food or because you don’t know what you’re fixing for dinner or whatever, that’s fine. Doesn’t matter to me one bit how everyone else plans and stores their food.
- What I do may seem like a totally crazy idea to some, maybe all, of you but all I ask is that you respect my decisions and how we live our lives. Even though many have asked to see my pantry, I’ve hesitated to show it because I don’t want any grief about our food storage.
If there’s ever an emergency, we may be stuck eating tomatoes and green beans but we will have something to eat.
My food is stored in a concrete room where the temperature stays between 60° and 70°. The area above the room isn’t concrete but all the walls are concrete so it’s fairly safe, at least from tornadoes. The oldest food is in front. I can load it from the back, though I mostly don’t. Where I have the green beans stored now, when I start getting low and restocking, I’ll put the new ones in a total different section so that when the ones I have now are all gone, I’ll know the oldest ones are gone first.
The pantry is as full now as it will ever be. My goal is to can 150 quarts of tomatoes so I need 16 more quarts. I’ll probably do 2 batches and that will give me 14 quarts and I’ll be done. Done canning for the entire season! Feels good!
Because of where the shelves are sitting, I can’t get far enough back to get a good picture but you’ll get some ideas.
Lots of jams and jellies. In the boxes are half pints of jelly and jam. There’s cherry, peach, mulberry, grape, crab apple, jalapeno pepper and I can’t remember what else. The top shelf also has jams and jellies in pint jars, as well as chutney and whatever else might be stuck up there.
Behind the clear vanilla are jars of home canned tomatoes with storebought cans of corn on top. On the bottom shelf are the extra green beans that didn’t fit on the green bean shelf, the crock pots and some big cans of tomatoes.
How do I keep track of all this, you might ask! A spreadsheet, of course! I have a general idea of what I have so I don’t keep this list with me at all times and I doubt it’s ever 100% accurate, but it’s close enough that I don’t have to do any real guessing to know what I have and what I need.
I don’t inventory soup and jelly and canned fruit. In fact, canned fruit is kept upstairs because it’s mostly for snacking. The main things I inventory are the things I really l care about how much we have. Going to the grocery store is a big waste of time for me . . especially if I have to go because I need one thing. Just glancing at the list, I can see that I have one can of cream style corn. We don’t eat it except in casseroles but I like having several cans on hand. Looking at green beans, I normally don’t keep 85 cans of storebought green beans on hand but our Wal-Mart is remodeling and a few weeks ago, they had the Italian style green beans marked down to 15¢ a can. I got all they had. The use by date is October, 2012. They’ll be long gone by then.
If you noticed the post-it note holder in the first photo, there’s a pencil by it too. I don’t run to the computer every time I grab a can. I make a note a post-it and stick it on the shelf somewhere. Sometimes there are several post-its full of lists of items I’ve taken. When I have a chance, I fix it all on the spreadsheet so I can keep it as accurate as possible.
Twice a year I re-organize and re-arrange, making a list of what I’m needing to replace, making sure the older cans are in front, and checking the spreadsheet. By about May of 2011, these shelves will be pretty empty. Most of the jam/jelly will be gone, most of the tomatoes will be gone, most of the home canned green beans will be gone. Some things will take forever to use. I have a lot of vanilla and those big bottles last forever. 44 cans of tuna seems like a tremendous amount to some but we love it and have it at least once a week for lunch and often I use two cans to make tuna salad. That’s just 22 weeks worth . . less than 5 months it will be gone.
That’s it . . now you’ve seen my pantry! And, you see why I don’t need a pantry in my kitchen.