Having a well stocked home pantry is essential to a homesteading family. We live far enough away from town that making
numerous trips to the store each month are a waste of time & financial resources. Our home is 75 miles from the
store where we are able to buy the dried grains that are a big part of our diet. The closest well-stocked grocery store
is 25 miles from our home.
A supply run happens once a month. We make all our pantry purchases at one time. This helps to both save on
money in fuel, but also in the amount spent. The more trips to the store, the more opportunities you have for making
impulsive purchases of things you don't really need.
The largest portion of our stored foods are grains. We store wheat, both soft and hard, for making flour. In
place of the cans of various types of beans, we store the dried versions. This allows us to buy them at a much lower
cost & takes up less space in storage.
Here are some of the grains I am now storing in the pantry: Wheat, Chickpeas, Sesame Seeds, Black Beans, Kidney Beans,
Split Peas, Lentils, Barley, Flax Seed, Pinto Beans, Rolled Oats, Rice, and Navy Beans.
I home can the vegetables that we grow or buy. They are also used in the homemade soups & stews that I home can.
I often make a double or triple batch of the soups & stews. After dinner, I bottle up the rest in canning jars.
Some is canned in pint jars for Joe to use as his lunch while at work. The rest is canned in quart jars for family meals.
I often home can the foods that you can typically find in the grocery store. Two pounds of dried white
navy beans can be made into nearly a dozen pints of beans that are similar to the flavor of boston baked beans.
The price for the 2 lbs. of dried beans, molasses, brown sugar, and seasonings used to make the beans cost less than $3.00
in ingredients. I ended up with 8 quarts (or 16 pints) of the beans. This is a huge savings over the cost of buying
them in the store.
Other pantry items that I am storing are: honey, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, various herb teas, coffee, sugar, brown
sugar, molasses, peanut butter, Crisco Butter flavored shortening, baking supplies, spices, raisins, nuts, and 100% juice.
Non-food items that are stored include: homemade cleaning supplies, toilet paper, bath products, trash bags, matches,
lamp oil, canning jars, and boxes of the canning lids.
I have been making the cleaning products from basic ingredients found in most home pantries. Things like white vinegar,
washing soda, and borax are the base ingredients for nearly every cleaning product that we use.
Shopping once a month takes preplanning. You need to plan out your meals for the month, inventory your pantry to
see what is needed for those meals, and then preplan your purchases.
Preplanning the purchases means to take a hard look at everything you will need, then see where you can make small changes
to save money. Instead of canned beans, buy the dried. Buying the ingredients in their most raw state will cost
far less than buying their more processed version. A basic rule is the more processing that is done to the food item,
the higher the price will be.
Buy meat products in bulk packaging, then wrap it yourself in meal-size portions. Ground meat, for example, can be seasoned
prior to repackaging to save time later. If you have a freezer, you can use butcher paper or freezer bags to package
the meat. We don't have a separate freezer, so I home can our meats. I precook the meats in soups, stews, stuffed
cabbage, or other recipes, then can the meat. Another favorite is to precook the ground meat with diced onions, garlic,
and bell peppers. I drained & rinsed off the fat, then canned the meat mixtures for later use. Chicken and
other meats can be safely home canned also.