What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Well Stocked Pantry

Even though I can year round, this is the time of year where I begin to see my efforts from preserving over the busier canning season. There's new foods that I haven't canned before put up along with the old, tried and true. I'm no where near finished yet but progress is being made.

The first reaction I get when someone first sees my pantry is sheer surprised usually followed by why? Keeping a well stocked pantry is important to me on many levels. First and foremost, it is a way of putting wholesome foods that are not laden with excess salt, preservatives and refined sugars. Many of the vegetables are home grown so storing the excess becomes a concern. It is a huge money saver because the food is right there ready to use instead of having to run to the store. This was very convenient when the kids were small and now we live in a rural area even more convenient. The pantry also saves money because I only stock up on certain foods when in season or on sale. A well stocked pantry is environmentally sound practice as well. Finally there is security in knowing there is enough food to feed ourselves comfortably for extended periods of time as well as help others if needed.

My goal is to maintain somewhere between a one to two year supply of food in the pantry. I'm pretty much on track. So here are a few pictures of my pantry as it is as of yesterday. There will be a few changes as the canning continues and we stock up on apples, potatoes and root vegetables to be eaten fresh. We will also be doing a restock on a few things from Sam's Club

The pantry is on the lower level under the stairs. It is a nice size room but the ceiling is low and has duct work running through it. The open beams will be perfect for hanging drying herbs next year! To the right as you enter the pantry there is a small supply of beverages (1). The paneling slide hides a nice storage area for empty jars. A small metal shelf unit beside the freezers (2) holds miscellaneous odds and ends. The space between is just perfect for cases of bottled water. The two freezers hold mainly meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and make-ahead meals I prepare in bulk. As you can see, I even use the floor space. In front of one freezer is a box of salsa, flour and rice (3). The shelves hold a wide variety of home canned foods with every thing from beans, fruits, vegetables and meats to soups and stews. The smaller white shelf unit will be replaced shortly with an industrial version of the smaller metal shelves giving me more storage space. A smaller shelf unit (4) holds more home preserved foods along with a few of the commercial items I need. In front are potatoes, squash and pumpkin waiting for processing.

A microwave stand (5) fit perfectly just inside the door facing the entry. It was ideal for storing cookbooks and some necessary equipment the the essential pressure canner. Hanging racks increase the storage. Pasta is temporarily being stored in the breakfast island base cabinets (6) on one side and spices (7) on the other side. The pasta is waiting to be vacuum sealed as soon as I have time. Then it will be moved to the pantry as well. My dried pasta supply is on the low side right now so I need to do a restock. A good supply of spices along with other seasonings like hot sauce (8) make food interesting so I keep a good store on hand.

This is my actual herb and spice cabinet. I consider this part of my pantry stores even though it is not stored in the actual pantry. It houses a host of dried herbs, mainly home grown. The top shelf holds a range of dried vegetable powders to be used as flavour boosters or in the case of dried zucchini as a natural thickener. The other shelves hold a variety of home dried and dried herbs and seasonings.

There are two more food cupboards in the kitchen, one for teas and coffees the other for commercial products like tuna, oils and mustards. I didn't take pictures because by now this entry is getting long and you are likely getting bored. As you can see from my pantry, the emphasis is on homemade and buying in bulk. Both will save you a considerable amount of money while they put good, healthy food on the family table. You can also see that a well stocked pantry need not be fancy but it does need to be well organized.

Well, my jars of ground beef are almost ready to take out of the canner so I best end this lengthy entry. Hopefully this has helped my readers understand the importance of a well stocked pantry. I do hope you will set up a pantry of your own. You won't regret it!

Garden Gnome
© 2007