Tuesday, March 3, 2015

This is Why! part 8

Previous entries can be found HERE.

In this final entry for this series, I’m going to share miscellaneous ways I stock my pantry.  These things don’t really fit into any of the other categories we’ve talked about so I just combined them all into this one.

80.      I started out small.  When my husband and I first got married many years ago, I didn’t have a well-stocked pantry … I didn’t even have a pantry … and on top of that we were poor college students with little to no money to work with.  But over time, using the principles I saw my mama use, little by little we began to accumulate a small amount of pantry items.  We had to start at the beginning and work our way up to a well-stocked pantry.

81.       I start with the basics … the foundation/building blocks of a pantry such as butter, flours, milks, etc.  (Everyone’s ‘basics’ will look different.)  This is the foundation of my pantry and is what I focus on stocking first.

82.      I stock comfort foods.  Comfort food for me begins with chocolate so I watch the after holiday sales … Christmas, Valentine, Easter, and Halloween.  When I find chocolate candy on sale for half price or less I stock up. Them I vacuum seal it in jars until needed in baking or as a comfort food.  (Yes, even on a low-carb lifestyle there are times when nothing but chocolate will do!)

83.     I don’t give up.  Many times there has been a lack of money to help stock our pantry but where there is a will there is a way and I’ve been known to get pretty creative with what I’ve had to work with.

84.      I set goals for my pantry.  I share my weekly goals and what I am able to do in my weekly pantry challenges posted at A Working Pantry.  I take keeping a well-stocked pantry very seriously and make it a priority.

85.     I only stock what my family will eat.  While there is nothing wrong with trying new things, make sure someone in your family will eat it before you add it to your pantry.  Otherwise it’s just something that’s going to sit in your pantry taking up valuable space that could be used to stock something your family will eat.

86.     I stock a variety of foods.  Variety is very important when you’re eating exclusively out of your pantry.

87.     I also stock a variety of spices.  Spices can turn a mediocre dish into a dish that everyone looks forward to.

88.     I never turn down ‘free’ food.  If someone offers to bless me from their abundance, I say ‘thank you,’ and bring it home and preserve it.

89.     I take advantage of ‘free samples.’  I accept all free samples whether we use them or not.  If we won’t use it, I find someone else to bless with it.

90.     I read and research to keep up-to-date on new ways to keep my pantry stocked.

91.     I keep my pantry rotated making sure not to let anything in it expire or ruin.

92.     I write the date purchased on store bought items and the date preserved on home-preserved items before I add them to my pantry and use the oldest first.

93.     I consider water to a part of my pantry and stock accordingly.

94.     I stock homemade convenience foods such as freezer meals that are ready to thaw and cook.

95.     I build up my pantry by knowing what’s in it.  Knowing what’s in my pantry will keep me from adding too much of an item.

96.     I build up my pantry by not wasting what I’ve worked so hard to put in it.

97.    I work on building up my pantry all year long not just when the ‘garden’ is ready to harvest.

98.    I take care of my pantry items by keeping storage conditions suitable to each item.

99.    I use and accept the knowledge that this is my ‘job’ and one way I can contribute economically to our household budget.

100.    Last, but certainly not least, I use a positive can-do attitude to help me keep a well-stocked pantry.

 There you have it, 100 ways I build up and stock my pantry.

I hope this series has been helpful and shown you why everyone should have a well-stocked pantry as well as given you information that you can use to build your own.
Yes, you can have a well-stocked pantry!

Your comments are what will make this series more helpful so please share your wisdom.

To see how I incorporate all these ways in my daily life, join me at A Working Pantry.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Oldie but Goodie: Canning Maple Syrup

Several years ago we started buying pure maple syrup from a Mennonite family that tapped their own trees.  We would buy it in pints and would purchase enough to last for a year.  One year we went to make our yearly purchase and they were out of pints and only had it in gallons.  The lady of the house told me I could can it and proceeded to tell me how.   

When I got home I consulted my canning books and searched online for further instructions.  I combined the instructions I got from the Mennonite lady with what I found in my research ... and here's how I can maple syrup ...

Empty the maple syrup into a pot.  Heat the syrup slowly until it reaches 180 degrees. Stir occasionally.  Do not let it boil or stick to the pan.  I attached a candy thermometer on the side of the pot so I could watch the temperature. 

While the syrup is heating I wash and sterilize the jars.

I also heat the lids and prepare the rings.

When the syrup reaches 180 degrees I fill each jar with the hot syrup, put a hot lid on each and screw on the ring.

The jars are hot, the syrup is hot and the lids are hot so be careful when filling and capping the jars.

The jars will seal as they cool.  No further processing is needed.

This maple syrup will last for years.  I am currently using some that has been on my pantry shelf for 3 years and it is still good.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Pantry Challenge #9 ... 2015

Can you believe that March is already here!  Where did January and February go?

This has been a week full of the unexpected which wrecked havoc with my nicely laid out plans!  It’s okay though; I’m just rolling with the events and will do the best I can.  Sometimes, life is like that, isn’t it?  We have to be flexible!

So, what did I get done in my pantry … let’s see!

My to-do list from last time:   
Make turmeric capsules.  Didn’t get done!

Check on the status of the collards and hopefully can them!  I’m afraid the collards are a no go!  I may be able to salvage enough for a meal but it looks like between the weather and life, they ruined in the garden.  This makes me feel wasteful and I don’t like that!   I’m glad that we have enough canned to get us through another year but you can be sure that I will make every effort to do better next year! 

In addition:
I needed butter so I went to the freezer part of my pantry and pulled some out. When butter was around $2/lb in November and December I purchased several and brought them home and froze them. I’m so glad I did!

I did the same thing with a gallon of milk.  I had run out so I pulled a gallon from the freezer part of my pantry.

We were invited to a birthday dinner for a young lady who was celebrating her 98th, yes 98th birthday.  I asked what I could bring and was told that she really liked pound cake.  I told them I had a recipe for a really good one and would bring it.  The recipe calls for a box of yellow cake mix so I went to the freezer part of my pantry and removed one that I had purchased on sale and frozen some time back. The only thing I had to purchase was 8 oz of sour cream.  Can I just say it again, I’m so glad I have a well-stocked pantry!

I enjoyed  kefir smoothies this week made using the organic fruit we got at Sam’s Club for $.51/bag that I told you about in this post.  I can get 8 smoothies from each bag!

Our Working Pantry Facebook group has a ‘Just One’ challenge each week and my first challenge was to make at least 100 vitamin c capsules.  I got 80 done instead … didn’t quite meet my goal but it’s better than none at all!

We did our monthly shopping this week and purchased the following: 

Plain flour (this one 5 lb bag will be enough to last us for 6 – 12 months)

A bulk bag of mozzarella cheese.  I will divide this up into 1 cup portions and freeze them.

A large tub of sour cream

2 large tubs of cottage cheese

4 lbs of sausage that we will get 8 meals from
and  2 cans orange juice concentrate

Our Sam’s Club “find” this week included ...
Vitamins ... the price ... $.81!  We purchased a year's supply!

These 2 bottles of spice blend ... the price ... $.81 each!


These cans of Campbell's cream of chicken soup for $5.01 per case (8 cans).  We purchased 16 cans.  The price breakdown for each can is $.63.
With a temporary reprieve in our current financial situation, I’ve started focusing on building back up the areas of my pantry that are in need of restocking.  This week I added 2 cans of evaporated milk to my pantry.  Normally 12 cans is a year’s supply, but one of the things that we have learned is that by stretching and getting more resourceful with the basics, we used more.  So I plan to double that 12 and turn it into 24 which means I have some work to do to get it to that level.

I’m getting ready to place an Amazon order using the gift cards I’ve earned the month of February doing Swagbucks.  (Look for a post later in the week on ‘how we’ve earned extra money for February’ which will include  Swagbucks.)

I finally got the Christmas cards we received this last year turned into gift tags for use in the next Christmas season.   I used my Sizzex machine and die cuts that were given to me as a gift several years ago.  (A link to the Sizzex machine I have can be found at the bottom of this page.)

I got to go to JoAnn’s Fabric this week!  I haven’t been doing much shopping at all during the past 3 months and especially not something as frivolous as a trip to a fabric store.  There were a couple of things I needed in order to finish an outfit I’m making for my newest little granddaughter.  The lack of these things had caused the project to come to a standstill.  When I found out that we would be making a trip to the airport in a larger neighboring town I asked my husband if we could go a little early and let me go to JoAnn’s Fabric. He said yes and even tracked down a couple of coupons I could use while I shopped.  I found what I needed and was able to use the coupons my husband found!  It was a nice treat!

We've started saving our change again and currently we have $10 in our jar.  Normally this would go toward Christmas, but considering the financial cloud that is hanging over our heads, we’ll save it to be used as an emergency fund.

Here’s my pantry to-d0 list for next week:
Divide and freeze the bulk bag of mozzarella cheese we purchased last week
Make Turmeric capsules
Check the local sale ads for bargains  (It sure is nice to have grocery money to work with again!)

Now it’s your turn, what have you done to build up your pantry or live frugally?

A Working Pantry

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Working Pantry Facebook Group Recap

Week # 2 for A Working Pantry Facebook group is coming to a close and I’ve learned a few things about this group. There are some really good ‘guessers’ in this group … there’s a lot of pantry related wisdom in this group and … you all can turn an empty space into pantry storage like no one else!!!!

We delved into our ‘Where Do You Put It?’ series this week by finding places to put store bought canned foods as well as learning how and where to store 5 lb or larger bags of ...flour, cornmeal, etc. We also learned that none of us want pantry moths!

Some of us didn’t quite meet our first ‘Just One’ challenge but then others hit a home run with it. In addition there have been conversations on lots different pantry related topics … and I love it. Thank you!

I’ll be taking Friday, Saturday and Sunday off again this week, this is going to be the norm for the group as it will give me time to recharge my battery and get some things done. Please keep the pantry related conversations going and we’ll start again on Monday with another “Where Do You Put It?” post.

Meet you back here on Monday!

If this sounds like something you would enjoy being a part of, you can join us HERE!

A Working Pantry