When you are living on a tight budget and saving for a farm there are a few things that can really help a busy family get by. One is a pantry. About a year or so ago I was reading an article in Countryside Magazine about having a pantry. The article recommended a book from Backwoods Home Magazine called Self Reliance:Recession-Proof Your Pantry. Though money was tight I promptly ordered it and got started. The book has great tips for how to get started.
The first thing I did was buy an industrial shelving unit at Sam’s Club. I have since discovered you can get really high quality shelving at Menard’s and the like.
I belong to wholesale buying club that buys natural and organic food bulk called Country Life Natural Foods. Every four weeks we purchase grains, beans, dried fruit, pasta, oil, honey, maple syrup, etc. Of course we don’t order all those things every month and now I am looking for more local options for things like honey and maple syrup. We purchase jasmine rice in 50 pound bags at our local Asian store. With our staples purchased once a month we try to go to the grocery store no more than once a week or every other week if we can last. Here we purchase fresh vegetables and fruit and some of our meat. We are hoping to raise our own meat chickens this year but that is another story.
Here is a picture of our pantry
It includes some both home canned and purchased canned food. The bins on the bottom shelf hold 5 lb bags of beans, dried fruit, nuts, and some flours. We also purchase and keep on hand extra oil, maple syrup and honey. For the Asian tastes in the house we have cans of coconut milk, Pho broth and sardines in spicy tomato broth.
What is great about having a pantry is it allows you buy food when you have the money and store it for when you don’t, like this week. I discovered we have less then $100 to live on until the next pay day, over 1 week away. Oh did I say the car needs gas. But even with this extremely tight budget we have the pantry we can eat out of. There are multitudes of options with dried beans (my favorite) pasta and rice. We have eggs steadily from our chickens now and some meat in the freezer. We have plenty of canned fruit, pickles and tomato sauce.
The only thing I would do different is I would have canned more diced tomatoes. I started the winter with 28 pints of diced tomatoes. I thought that would be plenty. But home canned tomatoes are soooooooooooooo much better then store bought I didn’t realized how often I would use them. Proeun and I used to struggle with heartburn every time we ate canned tomatoes, not the case with our home canned, certified organic, heirloom tomatoes. I only have 5 cans left. Can I possibly eat store bought tomatoes? Next year I will have to do more.