Today I am going to talk about stocking your pantry when you live rural.
Before I begin, it took us a long time to build our pantry up to where I am now. Please don't expect to go out and have a pantry like mine in one shopping trip. It is a gradual process where I stocked up on things when they were on sale and got a few extra items until we are at the point we are at now. When my sister visits me she is always shocked at how much food we have in the cupboard and in our basement. With my system there are some times that I have to throw some things out because they expire before we use them. But most of what we stock we do use before it expires.
Here are some items that we try to keep stocked up in our house:
Kitchen: I've seen cookbooks have a list of what ingredients you should have in a well stocked pantry. We have things for baking and cooking-major spices we use, flour, sugar, onions, garlic, oatmeal, canned goods, pasta, rice, tortilla chips, chocolate chips, ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc. I also keep an extra box of baggies, foil, parchment paper etc. Also vinegar and other cleaning supplies, paper towels, dish soap etc. I try to keep several boxes of butter, a few kinds of frozen veggies, walnuts, etc. in the freezer.
Bathroom: I try to keep an extra of items we use like shampoo, soap, deodorant, razors, etc. A friend visited me once and she forgot to pack some items from her bathroom. When we went to the store she was going to purchase new ones. She was shocked that I had extra to share with her everything that she needed-toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. I also try to keep some small travel size of these items for when we have visitors. I buy huge packs of toilet paper and also multipacks of tissues a couple of times a year. We also have over the counter items for when we get sick. I can't run to the store for Tylenol or Pepto Bismol in the middle of the night if someone gets sick.
Office: We try to keep an extra printer cartridge for our printers and a couple of packs of paper.
Lambs: I read a blog once where the mom ran out of disposable diapers and had to run to the store in the middle of the night. That is not an option here. The local grocery store often does not have big packs of diapers and sometimes does not have any of the size of diapers our Lambs wear. I always have several packs of diapers here even now when Lamb 3 wears a combination of cloth and disposable. If I would run out he could always wear cloth until we got to a store to get more. I used to keep extra wipes on hand until I started to make homemade wipes.
Laundry: I always have several bottles of laundry soap, vinegar and baking soda (for washing diapers), stain remover, etc. I buy several bottles when it goes on sale.
In our basement we used to have our canned goods organized in boxes. About a year ago we put up some cheap shelves and organized everything. I keep my homemade canned goods on one shelf and our extra canned goods on another. It is important to be organized if you are going to have a well stocked pantry. If you can't afford shelves right now, put them in labeled boxes or have some kind of organizational system.
The day before I go major shopping I open up the cupboards and put on the list anything we are getting low on. I check our "pantry" in the kitchen, bathroom, Lambs room, and basement (laundry) for what we are low on.
We usually also have a list going so when Ram or I use up an item then it goes on the list. For example, if we run out of baggies then we replace it with a new box on our shelf and write baggies on the list. By having an extra box on the shelf I rarely completely run out of an item because it is either on the list or I notice we ran out when I check the pantry before shopping.
I have noticed with this system that my priorities in regards to shopping have changed since we lived here. We can make do without some items that I used to always keep on hand. Some things are easier to make from scratch than to keep on hand. For example, I used to buy a lot of cake mixes. They expire quicker than you think they would and I would throw a lot out. I still keep some on hand because I never know when there is going to a funeral and it will be my turn to bring a cake. But now I usually make cakes homemade when they are for our family. My well stocked pantry has changed since we first moved here as we try to cook healthier, had Lambs, and made different priorities in our pantry.
Our pantry also looks different at different times of the year. We eat more salads in the summer so I have more salad dressing (or ingredients to make homemade salad dressing) in the summer than I do in the winter. We eat more brats/hamburgers in the summer so I try to have buns and condiments then that we don't always have in the winter (in fact I rarely buy buns in the winter). In the fall I have canned pumpkin. In the winter we have sweet potatoes and squash and potatoes. I keep more on hand for baking around Christmas. As the seasons change I consider this and add to my list items we will need the next season.
A few times a year I do clean out and organize the pantry areas that I've mentioned here. I throw out the expired items, check the expiration date and try to make something with the ingredients that will expire soon. I have a few cake mixes sitting on my counter that will expire in March. I'll try to use them before they expire.
Your well stocked pantry would look different than my well stocked pantry. Some items that I use a lot of you would rarely use or wouldn't use before they expire. You may use some items often that I rarely use.
Do you have any other advice for stocking your pantry?
Check back tomorrow for more about how we shop while we live here.