Saturday, July 6, 2013

Building a Pantry

This is not a doomsday post.
I looked at my husband about a year and a half ago and told him how much I resented our rising grocery bill.  We are a family of 5, and I felt like I was going to have to start selling body parts just to get a simple meal on the family table.

I was very frustrated.  I have a full time job teaching little people, and I wanted to spend less time in the car running to get that "one thing" to make supper and more time with my own kids.  I also did not want to go out and buy a book to tell me how to do all this.

 Let's face it folks, I'm cheap.

So, I started scouring the internet for ideas about pantries.  Now, understand, I cook for real.  And when I say that, I mean that my kids do not eat spaghetti-o's, we don't buy frozen pizza rolls, and my son told his grandmother that his mac and cheese was not really "from scratch" because she didn't make the noodles.  And I cook all the time.

But I did not have a pantry.

SO. Most of the pantries I saw were not the most practical for me. They were pretty, but smaller than what I had in mind and not really functional.  I saw one or two that scared me a little too-- like I said before, this is not a doomsday prepper kind of thing.  I don't need industrial sized cans of green beans and hoards of vegetable shortening.

 I started to take stock of the things that we did have, and organized them in a better way.  I have found that for me this means two things-- like kinds of containers and labels, labels, labels. The hubby and I installed pegboard on the unfinished storage room walls and painted it all with leftover paint from the shed outside.  That way, anything on the shelves would not fall back between the studs, smashing on the floor. Then the standards and brackets went up.  We reused some that we had leftover from our old house and had to purchase just a few more.
After a summer of canning and 4 months of stocking up

The footage we needed for shelving made prefinished shelves undo-able.  Remember, I'm cheap?
So we ended up getting widths of pine boards at Lowes that would work.  We installed the wider shelves closer to the bottom and the narrower to the top, with the highest shelf being wider for deep storage items like the knife sharpener and the trifle bowl. I put our small appliances on the wide low shelf so I can send kiddos down to grab the electric frying pan when we need it.

Then I looked at all the canned goods I had; both home canned and otherwise and sorted into groups. When summer came, I really became adventurous and tried canning/drying a lot of sale produce that I had not done before.  (Hello Ball Recipe book!)
After taking stock I decided that I was finally ready for part two of my evil plan (insert evil laugh here). Sorry--too much superhero tv. See the next post for info on how I changed my shopping habits.

This corner project was phase two after I realized our apple trees in the backyard would produce a bumper crop.

There were other things I did to make this a vibrant pantry that gets used all the time.
Here's the quick & dirty list:
1. Prep shelves/walls
2. Purge/organize/sort into categories
3. Menu plan (I have short dinner notes for a month at a time)
4. Shop smart, buy a few extra
5. Plant a garden
6. Can all you can, dry in the dehydrator

It's my plan to lay out a couple more things in detail because I think that we all learn from each other.  But that will come in later posts.  Right now, I need to get the two year old off the potty.  Yes, we are mid stream of potty training.   :)

More soon... Jess

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