Hundreds of years ago, food storage rooms, or “larders” as they were often known, were fundamental to every home. Since going to the market every week was either too inconvenient or impracticable, people had to rely on the food they stored in their homes to carry them through the cold, dark months of winter.
These days, most individuals just have to travel a short distance to reach a supermarket, so stocking a food pantry at home may seem pointless. Though, there are several good arguments in favor of preparing a pantry for long-term food storage.
The Advantages of a Home Food Pantry
Building a pantry for long-term food storage has several advantages.
- Emergency Planning
Having food stored up is a great way to be ready for both immediate and long-term crises. Ready.gov provides a comprehensive list of potential emergency events to underscore the point, including everything from a chemical assault to a large snowfall to a pandemic, all of which may make it difficult or impossible to travel to the food store. Reading the list probably will boost your stress levels, as it did mine.
Even if your neighborhood is not in the midst of an emergency, you should be prepared for the possibility of a food shortage at any moment. Most supermarkets only store enough food to last a minimum of three days. Food distribution networks are vulnerable to disruption, which means shelves at your grocery store might empty rapidly if disaster strikes.
- Save Money
Having a food storage pantry at home might also help you save money on your weekly food bill. If you have a spacious pantry, you may save money by buying in bulk, taking advantage of weekly specials, and preserving garden produce.
If you keep your pantry stocked, you won’t have to make as many trips to the supermarket, saving you both time and money. Less frequent shopping excursions mean less opportunity for accidental purchases like impulsive buys. By cutting down on your shopping trips, you’ll also save a lot of time.
- Food Security
A well-stocked pantry ensures that you and your loved ones never go hungry. If you have a changing income, are unwell, lose a spouse who works, lose your job, or only work seasonally, this is crucial. Having food stored up means you won’t have to worry about how to feed your family, which can be a huge relief during times of uncertainty.
What Should You Keep in Your Pantry?
Only buy and store things that you routinely consume while building your cupboard. Justifiable considerations necessitate this: You and your loved ones will be under more pressure if you have to use emergency supplies from your cupboard. It will be considerably more difficult to stay strong if you have to consume things that you don’t enjoy or don’t regularly eat.
Having a supply of frequently used items is helpful for a number of reasons. To avoid wasting perishable goods due to expiration or spoilage, it is important to rotate your stock on a regular basis.
It is not practical to stock your cupboard with a wide variety of unfamiliar foods just because they are on sale. You have effectively squandered your money if you don’t find the product to be to your liking or if its quality is low. Is there anything you should have in your pantry? Foods that can be safely stored for extended periods of time include:
- Beans, lentils, or peas, dried
- Protein bars, granola bars, or fruit bars are all options.
- Soups, fruits, and vegetables in cans
- Jelly with peanut butter
- Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are all available. Drink mixes that are powdered
- Dried fruits and nuts, Jerky beef
- Soup mixes in a can
- Baking necessities (such as baking soda, salt, and yeast)
- Vegetables pickled
- Milk, dried
- The trail mix
- Food for relaxation (like cookies, candy bars, and chocolate)
- Milk, evaporated or condensed
- Oils (olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil) (olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil)
- Crackers and Oats
- Pancake batter
- Cereal (including hot cereals like Cream of Wheat) (including hot cereals like Cream of Wheat)
- Bouillon cubes (chicken, beef, and vegetable)
- Seasonings in liquid form (including soy sauce, vinegar, and Sriracha)
- Sweeteners in liquid form (including honey, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, or agave syrup)
- Spices (such as salt, onion flakes, cinnamon, and ginger) (such as salt, onion flakes, cinnamon, and ginger)
- Foods in packages (including macaroni and cheese and instant potatoes)
- Meats in cans (including tuna, sardines, oysters, chicken, turkey, pork, sausage, or Spam)
- Baby food or formula (for very young children)
The problem with buying processed food for the sake of convenience is that it often lacks key elements like vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function properly. For this reason, it’s smart to complement shelf-stable meals with canned or even fresh produce.
Having enough water on hand is essential, and the amount you have on hand should reflect the aims you’ve established for your pantry. Plan on having two gallons of water per person, each day, for at least three days if you are storing up for an emergency. Water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and flushing toilets may all be obtained from a single two-gallon supply.
The sheer quantity of consumables that a household needs on a regular basis might be daunting. Keeping your shopping receipts for a month might make the task easier by allowing you to sort your purchases into distinct groups.
You can better understand what you and your loved ones rely on when you do this. You should also consider whether or not you may need to borrow food from friends or relatives in times of need. Extra provisions should be made if you want to share.
Fruits and vegetables should be kept fresh.
Realize that with the correct conditions, fresh fruits and vegetables may be stored for months. To maintain their quality and freshness, perishable goods need to be stored in a cool, dark place with a bit of air movement. Investing in or constructing a stackable storage container that allows for air circulation is a great method to keep perishables fresh in the pantry.
The stackable, open-air plastic or wire bins found at any hardware shop will work fine for this purpose. Or, you might construct your own storage system or utilize a wooden orchard rack.
Select only the finest fruits and vegetables for long-term storage. Fruits and vegetables that have been bruised or have small cuts in the skin can quickly rot in storage, and the rot can spread to other items. Selecting foods that were grown in the immediate area is also a good idea.
You can always count on getting the freshest produce by shopping at the farmers market in your area. Long-term storage recommendations for a variety of vegetables are provided below.
The high sulfur content of onions makes them one of the most well-suited vegetables for long-term storage. It’s best to keep them in a dry, cool place with plenty of airflow. Onions may be stored for a long time in a panty hose, which is a handy household item.
In the right circumstances, onions may keep for up to eight months. Keep in mind that sweet onions only have a short shelf life in the fridge (around two weeks).
Squash in Winter
A storage temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for winter squashes like acorn and butternut. Wrap the squash in paper toweling or newspaper to prevent them from touching one another or a rough surface. Each month, inspect them to make sure they aren’t developing any weak areas.
Other Root Vegetables & Potatoes
If you treat your potatoes first, they will keep for up to six months in the cupboard. Carrots, parsnips, and beets are just a few of the other root vegetables that keep well for up to four months in the winter. Curing potatoes requires two weeks of exposure to temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees, with the potatoes laid out in a single layer on newspaper. Skins will harden and won’t get green if you do this.
Storing tubers and roots for an extended period of time is difficult since they require a chilly environment (35 to 40 degrees) with relatively high humidity. This usually entails putting them in a cool, dark place like a root cellar, basement, or garage that doesn’t have any heat.
These veggies are best kept in a cold, dark place away from direct sunlight, but if you don’t have access to such a location, you may store them in wooden boxes filled with straw or sawdust to maintain a more consistent temperature. Root crops stored in the wrong environment will grow if temperatures fluctuate.
When storing potatoes, it’s advisable to do it in groups rather than in one massive heap. Larger stacks not only make it harder for air to circulate around the potatoes, but also cause the potatoes at the bottom to get damaged more rapidly. Root vegetables should not be washed before being stored. Place them as is in a cool, wet place, and they will thrive. Never allow them to freeze if you are storing them outside (in a box beneath your porch, for example), since they will swiftly degrade once thawed.
Cabbage, like potatoes and other root crops, flourishes in cool, wet conditions. Cabbage has a three-month to four-month storage life if kept in the right conditions. Leave the outer leaves on the cabbage until just before you’re ready to eat it, since they serve as protection for the interior leaves. Hanging cabbages stem-down from the hook is an effective way to preserve them, as is wrapping them in many layers of newspaper and keeping them in a cool, dark place on the floor.
There are several uses for the food you store in your pantry. Your pantry may serve as either a place to keep the surplus groceries you stock up on during sales, or as a lifeline for your loved ones in the event of a disaster.
I’ve just begun putting together a pantry at home to prepare for the coming winter. Our mountain road is steep and twisting, and the state doesn’t maintain it during the winter. The roads become impassable with even a light dusting of snow, and it may take days for the roads to be cleared after a major winter storm. Because of all the trees, there are regular power outages throughout the year. Thus, given our location, a well-stocked pantry is a necessity.