Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
The pantry principle has been around since…. at least in biblical times? Correct me if I’m wrong but when Joseph suggested the storing of seven years of excess grain to last through seven years of famine wasn’t that a form of prepping? Weren’t the people stocking a pantry? Its hard for me to imagine grains of wheat lasting 14 years in the desert but evidently it did because people survived. They must have known something about storing grain back then that we don’t know today.
Using the pantry principle can definitely save you money if you work it right. Having a well stocked pantry and refrigerator is like money in the bank. The basic idea is that all purchases are made to replenish the pantry and not with a few days of particular meals in mind. You buy when you find an item at its lowest price instead of buying at a higher price simply because its needed for a planned meal this week. Buying solely for need is the most expensive way to shop. If you have a well stocked pantry you don’t need to spend time planning meals because you can walk into your kitchen and say, hmm; what shall I make and be fully prepared to make it.
Ok, lets say you do have some form of pantry or food storage area. When you look at it what do you see? Some people might simply see shelves of cans, jars, and dry goods while others will see whole meals complete with side dishes and deserts.
Now let me ask you this. How often do you let your spouse or child do the shopping and they consistently bring home the same extra ingredients (even though you already have dozens) saying “But it was on sale!” Clearly that is a food that person enjoys eating so consider incorporating it into meals more often.
Do you love buying in bulk because the price per unit is very low? Did you ever consider that bulk buying can sometimes backfire and be a money waster instead of money saver? Think about it. What good is a really good bargain if you end up throwing (or giving) away most of it? Bulk buying should be according to need, not just price.
Bulk buying for a family of six active growing kids and two adults has a whole different meaning from the bulk buying of a senior living alone or a young couple just starting on their own. For example if you found twenty pounds of potatoes at $4. Really great bargain wouldn’t you say? Sure, it would be if you have a large family that eats potatoes often and goes through five pounds of french fries, baked, and mashed potatoes a week. Twenty pounds would then be a little over a month’s supply. But twenty pounds of potatoes is not such a good bargain for a senior living alone who eats only a single baked potato once a week. Buying in bulk makes sense only if something is going to be eaten or used in a timely manner. Storage space is another consideration. Just where would you keep an extra twenty pounds of potatoes anyway?
It seems keeping a pantry is becoming either a lost art or making a comeback depending on your mindset. For generation after generation people have harvested food and figured out ways to store it until the next season. This was not done based on a specific meal plan or in preparation of an emergency. They did it as a means of survival and because it made economic sense.
The trick of creating a pantry is figuring out what to have in it and what you can live without and then keeping it replenished. In days of yore replenishing would have been done by growing foods in gardens or foraging in season. There were farm animals, hunting animals, and fishing too. Today we have mega grocery stores with all manner of food from around the world but people will stop at fast food places instead. Pity.
If you make menu plans and it works for you that’s ok. If you don’t menu plan and it works for you that’s ok as well. But, if you’re always scrambling for meals and find you’re wasting time, energy, food, or money with your method then its obviously not working. You might want to reconsider what you are doing. Oh yes, and a well stocked kitchen doesn’t mean a well organized kitchen. As long as you can find what you need when you need it that’s good enough.