Thursday, March 11, 2010

Living off the Pantry

Keeping a well stocked pantry is high on my list of priorities. There are many reasons I do this. One being I like to know that the items in there were purchased on sale, saving us money. Another is I do not like to run out of things mid cooking. Knowing that I have beans, rice, and baking supplies on hand is comforting to me. I enjoy feeding my family. Making bread is one of the highlights of my day. Dinner can sometimes be a chore but I am working on that. lol

Before we moved in January we discovered that the budget needed a lot of tweaking. We though that our first months rent would be the pro rated amount like it usually has been when we moved mid month somewhere. Well this was our first time using a rental company and how they do it is the second months rent is prorated for the amount it would have been in the first month. Quite a shocker for us since we had rearranged our budget to accommodate paying final bills and new bills and had a lot of overlapping bills making it a very tight month and a half. As we looked at out budget the only extra that could go to this unexpected amount was either savings or the food budget.

I told Joe that I could feed the six of us on just our pantry and freezer stores for 6 weeks. He was skeptical but I was certain I could do it. We did buy milk and some fruit during this time but not a lot. I am so thankful that we had this store of food. Had this been a real emergency we would have been fine. I could have even stretched it farther if needed! I am very thankful for this and even more determined to have a stocked pantry after this experience.

We did not starve but towards the end the options were limited. lol The kids were hit the hardest I think. One day Joe came home with his lunch dishes in a plastic bag and the two littles rushed him yelling "Did you go the the grocery store?!!" lol I think thoughts of goldfish crackers were running through their heads. :) The snack options were limited and for the last week snack consisted of a loaf of homemade bread with peanut butter and a jar of apple butter. My kind of snack! Many soups were enjoyed and a lot of beans were eaten. I feel like this experience really strengthened my cooking skills.

Now the task of restocking my pantry is at hand. Luckily this happened at tax season where we were able to throw a bit of that to restocking the pantry. Its not where it was before but will be soon. Living off our pantry for 6 weeks also showed me what I really need to focus on stocking a lot of. We were just about out of flour and some kinds of beans. We still had a lot of rice. We completely ran out of most baking supplies, frozen/canned vegetables, and meats by the end. We had an ample supply of jams and jellies thanks to our canning the previous year.

I am excited that we were able to do this. It was daunting at the beginning and a little scary. We had little extra money to throw into the food budget if this failed and I am happy to say that it was not only successful but it taught me a lot about our food usage. I am looking forward to this spring when I will plant our garden and am all ready planning a root cellar for inside our garage. I am mid re-organizing and re-stocking the new pantry area and when I get it cleaned up a bit I will post some pantry photos and more details here on Lally.

Have you ever lived off your pantry? Either by choice or by necessity? What kinds of things are most important to you to keep stocked in your pantry? I would love to hear about it here in the comments.