Preparedness: How much does an adequate pantry hold?


How much does an adequate pantry hold?

Different people have different opinions as to what comprises an adequate pantry, or what the pantry should consist of. I can only give you my definition. My pantry encompasses what’s on my shelves, in my freezer, and in my refrigerator. It’s not only food, but everything needed to safely store and prepare that food. It’s dry goods, canned goods (commercially and home-canned), frozen food, dehydrated foods, pet food, hygiene items, paper and cleaning products, and various sizes of canning jars with enough lids to use each jar twice. 

My pantry is not located in one area of my house. Oh, how I wish I had the money to add on to my house and build the pantry of my dreams! But I don’t so my pantry is relegated to where I have space. It’s partly in the bathroom, the kitchen, the basement, and a spare bedroom. What the item is depends on where it’s stored. I have a handicapped individual in my household so my storage arrangement is customized to fit his needs as much as mine, and probably wouldn’t make much sense at first glance. It works well for us and that is the important thing. 

Do your pantry your way. Organize in a way that works for you and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. My pantry is not Pinterest pretty and never will be, although I do think filled canning jars lined up in rows are colorful. 

To me, an adequate pantry could sustain us for a year, but I don’t feel I’ve really gotten there yet. We live pretty far out of town in a very rural area. I don't want to drive to town every day to shop for groceries or anything else, so I keep stock on hand. You may live in a city with two corner groceries within easy walking distance. Everyone has different circumstances and different needs so our pantry will never be a one-size-fits-all pantry.

The pantry is and always will be a work in progress. That’s not to say I’m not good on some things. Items go in and out of the pantry on a daily basis. The next time we have tomato soup, we’ll no longer have enough for a year (twenty-four cans) but it won’t be time to restock until we get down to twelve. I don’t have space allotted for more than twenty cans. 

We have just one-quart jar of home-canned meatballs left, so it’s time to make and home process seven more quart jars. Eight jars is the allotted space on the shelves in the basement for meatballs. Is that an adequate amount of shelf-stable ground chuck? Not for us, but we also have home-processed ground beef in pints, and more than a few pounds of ground chuck in the freezer. In total, we could stretch that for maybe a year if we were unable to restock.  

You have to manage your pantry the way it works for you and YOUR circumstance. 

An important note to managing your pantry

Whatever system of pantry organization and management you develop, one very important factor to remember is stock rotation. No matter how you do it, using a first in first out methodology is crucial.

It may seem like a no-brainer to do this but rotating stock to keep the oldest products used first has a great side-benefit, at least for me. I’m not the most efficient at keeping an inventory record. Sure, I have the spreadsheet, but I sometimes forget to update it when I use items. So putting away a case of tomato soup gives me a chance to do a quick count of what else is on the shelf and do some updating. 

Perfection isn’t something I strive to achieve. I won’t drive myself crazy over finding out there are only two cans of Pork ‘n Beans left on the shelf when my spreadsheet says I have four cans. I simply add it to my shopping list. It’s taking the time to check quantities on a regular basis that will keep you ahead in the game.

Convincing other members of your household to tell you when they open a can of Pork n’ Beans to have with a hot dog is a big help, too. May you have better luck with that training your housemates than I’ve had. Some old dogs refuse to learn new tricks! 

Next in series: Home Food Preservation - is it safe?

Please note that if I repeat some things that not everyone reading the blog will land on every page. For that reason, some things to bear repeating. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, pantry prepping, preparedness, inventory, spreadsheets, menu planning, home food preservation, Doomsday prepping, stock rotation, first-in first-out

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