If you are a regular reader of this blog (there are a couple of you out there LOL) then you know I talk a lot about reducing our spending, frugality, simplicity, cooking from scratch and making do with what we have. It is important to me that my kids grow up understanding these values (I can't make them "share" my values, but I hope that by being raised this way and discussing consumerism they will think twice about acquiring debt for more gadgets and seeking the instant gratification of more "stuff". A topic for another post, perhaps). It makes sense to me to add having a stocked pantry to the above list. I am in the process of buying a few extras here and there (when they are on special) so that I never have to run to the store (a 25 minute drive) and pay full price because I "ran out" of something essential (flour, etc). There are a few reasons I have always kept a stocked pantry:
- I live in western Canada and the weather can prevent travel when you live out of town. I am also a home-body and don't make extra trips to town if I can help it.
- We have experienced power outages that have lasted 3-4 days in the past. I like to have a plan in place for events like that. We now have a wood stove--I can cook on it or my BBQ--but that means having wood available and propane in the tank. It also means having some food on hand for those emergencies.
- As I mentioned, we live in western Canada. Whether you like it or not, western Canadians depend greatly on the oil and gas industry for their income--directly or indirectly. This is not a space where I want to debate the evils of the oil sands or the long term effects of fossil fuels. Tne fact is if you are a waitress you depend on oil money for your tips, if you are a carpenter you have been busy for years because of the oil boom, and on and on. The drop in the price of oil has left many people scrambling, some have been out of work for months. Having a stocked pantry can help get families through periods of less or no income. Being creative in the kitchen can stretch food dollars to make it paycheque to paycheque. For me, it only makes sense to try to save on food and have extra set aside for the unexpected.
Baking supplies: I bake most of our bread so flour and yeast, sugar, brown sugar and various grains top my list.
Drinks, including 5 gallon jugs of water: (our well water is not safe to drink) I notice the price of coffee fluctuates week to week. I keep a few extra cans around and buy more when it is on special. I can't be without my morning coffee! I also have an assortment of teas, some of which are medicinal.
Rice: I buy large bags of basmati rice because we love it and it is just a good staple to keep around.
Pasta and lentils: I keep a box of whole wheat lasagna noodles around for when I freeze lasagna to eat later. The kids like pasta and I plan to keep some extra on hand as we go into the winter months. Also pot barley, split peas etc for soup.
Household Supplies: Recently I bought a couple extra bottles of laundry detergent and dish soap that were either on special or had a coupon. Why pay full price because I've ran out and desperately need to do laundry? Toilet paper is something I really resent spending money on. And I don't love
the cheapest varieties. But really how much money should we spend on something that literally gets flushed down the toilet? So I try to keep extra rolls in house so we never have to run to the gas station and pay quadruple, or pay full price at the grocery store. The key is to watch for a decent brand being on sale. I use some shaklee cleaners that I bought years ago. It seems like a lifetime supply because I have had them for years and there is still plenty. While I do try to stay environmentally friendly I also have some cleaners that were the free gift at Superstore as a back up.
Canned Goods: Various soups and vegetables, primarily whole and crushed tomatoes. Last year my garden provided me with several months worth that I had canned or frozen. My plan is to eventually put up our annual supply of tomatoes. I like to have some canned chick peas and other beans on hand for when I've forgotten to soak dried ones overnight. Soup is handy for when we are in a rush or I'm just too busy or tired to make some from scratch.
Cooking oil was an in-store special the other day and I bought another 3 litre jug although I already had one to spare. I also have 3 or 4 gallons of vinegar in my garden shed because I use it to kill weeds. It is also handy to have for cleaning and making my wonderful sweet and sour sauce :) Aluminum Foil is so helpful with outdoor cooking and I got two 50' rolls on sale recently.
There are other things that I hate to be without--obviously toothpaste and shower supplies. We use Epsom salts in the kids' baths and I use them in the garden as well. I have a full spice cupboard that I really treasure. Cutting condiments out of our grocery list is better for the bank account as well as the health, generally, so herbs and spices can go a long way to add variety to our food.
There are probably more things to add to this list, and it obviously doesn't include what I stockpile in the freezer. I didn't include perishable but long-storing vegetables like potatoes and onions but I do always have them on hand whether from my garden, my mom's or the store. As we get better at self-sufficiency these are things that we would always provide for ourselves. Do you have any items to add to my list, or do you stockpile food for emergencies/security?