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When a pantry is put to the test Empty When a pantry is put to the test

Post by PlainFolk on Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:05 am

This is a post that I wrote for some friends back in 2009. Our family had just been through a very difficult time of job loss and it hit us very hard. But we had been prepping our pantry for quite a long while before it happened and it really saw us through. Not without difficulty at all...but it certainly kept our heads above water. I had some friends who wanted to know how we did it so I wrote this up. The first half is about what we had done right and the second half talks about where we went wrong. Preparedness is not always about a world event. Sometimes it's simply a life event that is happening in our own little piece of the world.

Those of you who have known me for a long time know that my husband and I take pantry stocking very seriously and have been stocking in earnest for a good five years now. Of course, things are constantly rotated and used, and throughout the process we always try to keep our larder stores as well stocked as we can possibly afford to.
We recently had a time of real financial hardship ~ in some ways one of the hardest we have been through yet. The down turn in the economy hit my family in a very real way. We had two contract lay offs one right on the heel of the other with no time to catch up or catch our breath or recover. Then once the second one ended, there was just...nothing. No more jobs, no more contracts to be had. Not just for us, but for all the contractors working in our field within the area we work.
We faced this time with both trepidation and faith. We knew it would be hard but we also knew we would not come out of the other side of it unscathed. But such is life, right?

We did however, have two blessings in our favor. One was our home which was left to us by my parents, so we had no worries of losing the roof over our heads. And no matter what our worries were, no matter what bills we were concerned about, we were both so thankful that we have had such a heart for pantry stocking and that the Lord had blessed our endevours in that area.
So now I'm going to share with you what we learned. What worked for us, what we had done right and where we learned our "holes" were in our stocking up. In some ways, I'm thankful we had this time just so I now know where those holes are and can do something about them.
Now keep in mind, we did NO grocery shopping the first several months of 2009. I went at least 4 months without ever going into a store at all and once I was able to again, it was only for short trips for very specific items. We had absolutely no "help" such as governmental aid or even family help. (As most of you know hubby and the kids and I are a bit of an island unto ourselves with all family having passed on.) When we started, our pantry area was full to the brim and we had two full deep freeze chests.

We did very well in almost all of our basics. And that has always been our goal. Pantry stocking for us is not about chips and sodas, it's about beans and rice and such. I'll just do a bullet list of how things went.

* Bathroom products ~ did great. Never had a moment's worry over tp or soap or shampoo and the like. I'm always stashing back extra of these items. About the only thing that proved lacking was my daughter's hair mousse and in the big scheme of things that's not too bad.

* Laundry detergent ~ didn't have a worry. I like to use store bought detergents sometimes, but only when I know our money is a little bit better off than other times. But for the most part, I use homemade detergent. I always stay very, very stocked in Zote, Borax and Washing Soda. And the amounts needed to make a big batch of detergent are so small these supplies really last a long time. I was very thankful to not have to worry about trying to use money to buy store bought detergents.

* We did excellent in flours, sugars, seasonings, things like baking soda, powder, and cocoa.

* We also had no problem with pastas, rice, and beans. We are still not out. Our stores of these items are much lower than what we consider normal, but we're not out by any means.

* We also did pretty good on meat because of our freezers and also meat that I had canned.

* Canned goods ~ we did ok. Not super wonderful, but still ok. We went through all the green beans and corn but we still have some canned potatoes, peas and black eyed peas. Not dozens of cans but probably a half dozen of each left.

* Tomato products ~ these are really big on my list of stock up items. Between what I buy at the store and what I've canned from our garden, I like to keep alot of these on hand because they are so versatile and are the start for so many different meals. We did well on these. Didn't run out and still have a respectable number left.

* Powdered milk ~ did really good with this. I place a bulk order from Honeyville Grains once in a while and I still have plenty of this. I use it in all my cooking instead of regular milk.

* Cooking oil ~ did good. I had two Sam's size large containers in my freezer at the start of all this and I still have half of one of those left. Also did good on olive oil.

* Butter ~ I don't know if this should go in the did good list or the found wanting list because is sort of straddled the line. I'm usually very good about having a good store of it in my freezer. And I did have some when this all started, but it was not nearly enough. However, I also keep a stash of "Red Feather Butter" in the pantry just for butter emergencies. But I don't buy tooooo much of it because it is really rather pricey. But alot of pantry stocking types like to have some of it on hand because of it's incredible shelf life. I'll probably place a small order just to replenish what we used. Also, butter powder has always been on my list of things to order for long term storage, but I've just never gotten around to it. I will be getting around to it now. I really regretted the fact that I had not done this.
Now let me tell you where we missed out...

* Eggs. Oh. my. goodness. Powdered eggs was another thing that I had always meant to get around to ordering and never had. Big, big regret. HUGE. Lord willing, my pantry will never be without powdered eggs ever, ever again. You have no idea how whole heartedly I mean that.

* Trash bags ~ yowsers I really dropped the ball on this one. No fun. Now I know better for next time.

* Fresh milk ~ not tooo much I could have done about this one. I did have two gallons extra frozen in the freezer at the start but you know that didn't last long. I will probably try to keep a few extra gallons frozen and in rotation now that I know what it's like to be without it.

* Fun stuff ~ like I said earlier, "fun" foods are not high on our pantry stocking priority list, nor should they be. But at the same time, going months on end with no treat type of food except what I could bake at home (and remember I ran out of eggs and had no powdered eggs, which really effected things) really took it's tole. Especially with two kids at home and in that constantly hungry stage of life. I told my husband that I might try to go every once in a while and get some "fun" stuff to add to the larder just to give it some more variety. We'll have to see. It will have to be balanced out by our more important pantry needs.

So that's how we did. No grocery shopping at all the first several months of the year and only limited shopping the rest of the year. We went through one deep freezer, I was able to consolidate it all down to one a couple of weeks ago. That's as low as my freezers have been in years. The pantry room looks a little puny to me, but that's just because I know what it looked like to begin with. I think we did pretty good overall and so does my dh. In March a friend did take me to her church's food pantry and that was nice but I didn't get or need any basics. She gave us flavored waters, drink mixes, some Easter candy for the kids, that kind of thing. That was much appreciated because as I said, we were about crawling the walls for some "treats." **But** during the whole entire time I can honestly say that not one person in my house lost a pound. So we were fed. I may not have had what would be someone's first choice of food for a meal, but we had a decent meal none the less. And I'm so glad. And thankful. And now I know how to do it better for next time. And there is always a next time in this world. Tis our job to be faithfully prepared. ~~~~

Ok, that's how things went. Now I'll update you a bit to bring you up to present. After 2009 ended, our pantry had obviously taken a hit. A very big hit. Honestly in 2010 and several months into 2011 I didn't give much thought to building it back up because our daughter's health took a very grave turn and I spent 2010 and the start of 2011 in and out of Vanderbilt with her and there really wasn't room in my life to think of much else. Once things started to calm back down late last year, I took to pantry stocking again. I don't feel like I'm all the way back up to the level that I was pre-2009 but I'm certainly well on my way and much more prepared than your average sheeple. In addition to that, we now have a laying flock of chickens. That was something I did manage to start in 2010 despite everything else that was going on. Last year we raised a flock of 30 specifically for the freezer. I still have many of those left. But even with the chickens, I still keep stocked up on powedered eggs. Like I said, Lord willing my pantry will never be without them. We also raise rabbits for meat now as well.

I do now make it a bigger priority to stock up on things I can make baked goods and goodies with for the family. Of course I still make sure my pantry gets plenty of the basics and practical items but knowing what it was like to go without things like that, I now make it more of a priority to have those things on hand.

So that's what we did, how we did it and what we learned. I'll be the first to admit it wasn't fun but I am grateful to have the knowledge and wisdom that time brought to us.


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Post by 12acrehome on Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:29 am

Too long to read now, but thank you very much for sharing this here. I'll read it after work tonight.

Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

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Post by Sonshine on Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:37 am

I'm glad to see that you now have chickens because between the meat they provide and the eggs they are a very valuable assett without a lot of expense. Do you also have a rooster?

We're military and the base will have what they call case lot sales. They ususally post a list of items that are on sale prior to the actual sale. Joe brings me the list and I circle what I want. He can get their during the day so hits it before others get off work. Doing the caselot sales we have stocked up on shampoo, bath soap and dishsoap. We also buy canned veggies and fruits this way, but one of the things we buy through the caselot sales that you could have used are cake mixes, brownie mixes and muffin mixes. You do need eggs with those, but everything else is pretty much included, except for oil.

I keep cocoa and sugar on hand to make differnt types of chocolate treats like fudge and no bake oatmeal cookies etc.

My family likes salty snacks too. Ty especially loves nachos. So we stock up on Masa meal and make homemade tortillas. We're learning how to make cheese with the goat milk so we don't have to worry about trying to stock it.

One thing I have done is instead of stocking up on TP, which we do some, but not enough to last for a prolonged event, is we stock up on cloth diapers. That way you can cut them into strips and use those in the place of TP. Just get a bucket with a lid and keep it filled with water, laundry soap and some bleach to place used rags into.

He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food,
but from idle pursuits a man has his fill of poverty
Proverbs 28:19[b]

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Post by PlainFolk on Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:57 am

Sonshine wrote:Do you also have a rooster?

Yes, we do. He's king of the hill out there, lol.

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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:48 am

You can freeze your extra eggs for use during molting. I usually place a sandwich baggie into a coffee mug, fold the zipper part down so you don't get any egg on it. Then break 2 or 3 eggs into the baggie, squeeze the air our and squish the yolks to blend them with the whites. On the outside of the baggie label them with the number of eggs it contains. I then lay the baggies on a cookie sheet and freeze them solid. After they are frozen I place the baggies into a gallon size freezer bag for extra freezer burn protection. To use the eggs just remove a baggie from the freezer and run water over the baggie to loosen the egg from the plastic. Then pop the frozen chunk into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let it thaw either on the counter for about an hour or so or in the refrigerator overnight.

These eggs can be used just like fresh eggs for baking or cooking, everything except hard boiled eggs. Wink

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