Stores aren’t like they used to be–what one sees is pretty much what they have in the entire building. When there is a “possible” winter storm here, it doesn’t take but half a day for the stores to be stripped down to almost nothing, and the first area to be cleaned out is potato chips! (My brother-in-law works for Frito-Lay so I get the detailed stories, quite sad actually). Research surprisingly shows that most cities contain only a three-day supply of food for the citizens; thus, government agencies are now encouraging a mere three-day emergency supply kept on hand should something bad happen!
I remember reading all that (and more) and being quite disbelieving: “Just a minimum three days of total food in a home?” Three days. I had never really thought about how many people must not can or bake or cook. If they don’t have even three days worth of food in their home, they definitely don’t can! (It is too addicting!) Cooking, well, requires foodstuffs like flour and other items to “create.” Many are so used to the status quo and everything as is; it takes the government recommending it to get people even thinking about having more than a day’s food in the house?! Then, there were the pandemic scares where the government said we may be told to stay in our home for a month so all should have supplies for at least a month.
When I went to purchase a house here in Colorado, the realtor would show me a tiny cupboard and say, “If you need more than that for a pantry, your family is eating too much.” Furthermore, when I’ve talked with neighbors and friends who eat out frequently and shop nearly daily, I can see where the problem lies. Empty pantries.
Living out in the sticks during my childhood left me with some “self-reliant” ideas for the pantry that are now looked at as turning back to the past and lost skills–becoming like ” our grandmothers.” Hmmm. We were 21 miles from the closest town of 4,500 people, and it was in the northern half of Alberta, Canada, in the small town of Vermilion (three miles of gravel roads to even get to a paved road). We never knew when a blizzard would come up, and we’d be snowed in for a week or more. My mother set a wonderful example for me that I’ve never regretted. It was a way of life.
The farm in Canada where I grew up.
It was normal for the farm folks in our area to have extras for the “just in case” times. Even the townspeople knew to store extra due to our extreme weather. Also, with our family living so far from just a simple grocery store, it was nice to have our “own store” tucked away in the basement, so we’d save on gas from making more trips to town. When there was a sale, Mom purchased case lots of items. She stored the basics such as baking powder, yeast, baking soda, oil, sugar (brown and white), flour, corn starch, salt, rice, pasta, water, and canned products like tomato soup, cream of chicken, beans, etc. Home canned items such as jams and pickles were also down there. Extra butter was always in storage. (My dad LOVES his butter–that would have been a nightmare to run out of that!) She also bulk-purchased spices, cocoa, puddings, Jell-O gelatin, and some non-food items (thank goodness) like toilet paper, disposable cutlery and plates, feminine supplies, cleaning supplies, toothpaste…. (Ladies, picture being very low on feminine supplies and living 21 miles from town and a snowstorm blows in….. Yeah, not pretty, eh?)
The freezers were full from the summer garden and the butchering of an animal, so that was always there as well. The storage in the freezer was our everyday life, not just used and stored for “emergencies.” As I mentioned in a previous post, there was the dugout filled with potatoes and carrots. Since it was a dairy farm, we always had all the milk we could drink no matter what the weather. (Boy do I miss that fresh whole milk!!!!!)
When my husband and I lived in Cedar Park (suburb of Austin, TX), a pretty substantial hurricane hit the coast. The flooding was all to the south of the city, but it turned out that milk and eggs came up from the south on that major highway to supply everywhere north. The huge town with its many suburbs were pretty much eggless and milkless for nearly a week until the floodwaters receded and the highway was again passable. The news showed all these upset people worrying for their children and terribly upset by not getting these items. It was actually quite intense.
My own pantry is based on the knowledge that I learned from my family background. When storms and trials come, I can be at ease knowing we are safe and have lots of various foods, much from canning and gardening. We seriously do our best to not depend on others for critical times, like food shortages. I do not want to run to the store each day to retrieve items–then I get lured in to possible impulse buys and waste precious time.
I try to keep my shopping to a science, knowing what is a good sale and tucking it away. Using a great sale means that in a year, when prices are still rising, we are eating at a cost much lower than others. We also benefit from hitting the loss leaders–those sales that stores have that are super low in order to lure people into their store, hoping they’ll then buy other things as well at regular prices. I have been known to fill an entire shopping cart with bags of unbleached flour on a superb sale and leave with just that item! (Okay, it is like a challenge to me to see how much I can save and get out with. The other day I spent 100 dollars and saved at least 169!! That was worthy of excitedly calling a friend to share my “victory.”)
I now, in addition to what mom stored, store powdered milk, egg substitutes, and dried beans. I pressure can items, so jars of meat, soups, and beans are also down there. I’ve also spent time learning how long things are good on the shelf. We rotate and use things so nothing goes to waste. I carefully look at the use by dates so that the items I buy are the freshest possible. I know how much past those dates the food is still good for. (Outsmarting the companies–I love it!!!)
“Waste not want not” is recited in this home very frequently! (Just ask my five kids!) Being generous is a great way of life rather than dependency. I’d rather have food tucked away to help a neighbor than to be without and searching to find a neighbor with the item. Remembrances of the war times and the depression further my desire to watch over my family by having learned the skills to continue to garden and can. My parents and grandparents share enough on what happened in Europe as well. ( I personally try to avoid depending on the government. I don’t want to rely on them to come feed my kids during a crisis. Some of the recent hurricane times have heavily imprinted that on my mind.)
I’m hoping this summer blesses my family with some great gardening so I can put up lots more food. I also plan on watching for great sales that come in the summer, such as peanut butter and tuna! I am grateful that I know how to cook and how to put food up. It is extremely rewarding to me to feel the peace of watching over the future. My summers truly help provide for the winters. I aim to do my best to take good care of my family, always having food on the table by keeping my pan full.
Moopsee on July 26, 2010 | Permalink
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