It is November and coming upon turkey time. In times like these, we should make sure we have a well- stocked pantry that will carry us through should we have snow days, power outages or even lean times. It doesn’t have to be a big chore; in fact it won’t even take a whole day to take stock and restock.
The first thing you need to do is check your supply. Go through your pantry and pull everything out. Leave the pantry bare so you can clean the shelves and get ready to organize and stock it with needed items. As you are pulling out the food, go ahead and organize it by item. Then go through each item and check the expiration dates. Chances are one or more items have expired. To help keep this from becoming a problem in the future, you can write the expiration date in marker on the front of the can or box to make it easy to see and rotate by expiration dates when you bring new items in.
To guard against bugs, put boxed items in plastic or glass storage bins. If you have large mason jars, you can store food in these and keep it air tight. Label each storage container. After doing this, you can start putting items back by category.
Once you have an organized pantry you can see what you need. Some of the main items you need to have are the basics: salt, pepper, flour, cooking oil and sugar. Canned goods are an easy choice for a power outage or being snowed in because they are inexpensive, they have a long expiration date and heating them up is simple. This can be any kind of vegetable and fruit that you and your family like to eat. Getting several cans wouldn’t hurt as long as they have a longer expiration date and you have room to store them. Dried pasta and pasta sauce is also a good choice because it is an easy meal that most people like. Having condiments on hand to add flavor to items is a good idea because, in our household, anything can be covered up with ketchup and mustard. If anyone in your family eats peanut butter, stocking up on it is a great idea to get extra protein. Tuna is another great choice for easy protein. Having breakfast staples around is great because they can be eaten for breakfast and for snacks, lunch and dinner. This could be cereals, pop tarts or even grits or cream of wheat.
Make sure you have a stock of bottled water just in case you are ever stuck with a boil water advisory. This makes sure that your water supply is safe to drink. If you have a well that functions on electricity, this is a must. If you do have a well, having gallons of water on hand for use in the toilet and tub is an excellent idea. If you are using them for this purpose you can fill up empty containers with water instead of buying them and just save them in a safe place.
Looking over the list above, write out a list of what you need for your pantry. You can add to the list or change it according to what your family will consume. Once you have a list of items that you need to buy, either go to the grocery store that day and buy what you need using coupons that you already have or have printed from the computer and using sales or put them on your grocery list for the next time you do your shopping.
Having a well-stocked refrigerator is also a wonderful idea. Having milk, orange juice, eggs and cheese on hand is a must. Remember that the more you stock in your refrigerator and freezer the colder it will stay, versus having an empty one.
Some things that people don’t think about making sure they have stocked are things that are not in the pantry. Keep a good supply of toilet tissue and paper towels. Make sure you keep at least one extra bar of soap, tube of toothpaste and bottle of shampoo. Also, make sure that you have your first-aid kit and medicine cabinet stocked and up to date in the event something unfortunate happens.
All of this might sound like a crazy concept considering we haven’t had much cold weather, and being from the south we generally don’t have a lot of it, but being ready for an emergency is always a good idea. Even if the lights stay on and the snow doesn’t come this winter, you will have plenty of food for your family to eat and not have to worry about what could happen.
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