Recently I wrote about the importance of keeping a fully stocked pantry. I am the type of person who likes to stay stocked up all the time so that we’re ready for whatever life sends our way. Unexpected guests for dinner, emergencies like a loss in pay or job loss, injury or illness, storms or natural disasters- things come up without warning and I sleep better knowing we’re ready! I like to think of it as an edible ‘savings’.
What if I want to keep a stocked-up pantry but have limited space? And what if I just can’t afford to buy a lot of extra food?
Its okay! We dont have a lot of room at all! And, we are on a serious budget.
Today I am sharing photos of our little pantry. Even though we have limited space, its easy to see we are fairly stocked up, and between the nonperishable items in our pantry and the can’t-fit-anything-else-in-it deep freezer, we could go a fair amount of time without having to buy food, if it were ever necessary!
How do I do it, though, with a limited budget? I buy ahead on sale, in season, and I hit the clearance racks with a vengeance. I do use coupons, but not consistently. My brain is too scrambled to always be chasing coupon deals all over town, and I got burnt out quickly trying to rely on coupons. Can you relate to that? It means sometimes missing out on the “best” deals, but it helps simplify the task when I’m squeezing in a stock-up trip with three kids in tow!
I also keep a basic meal plan rolling all the time, always using leftovers, and I try to make the majority of our treats from scratch. Keep in mind that I generally would prefer to always make my family dinner from scratch, but it can be really nice in a winter power outtage to be able to pop open a can of soup for a warm dinner by candlelight or camp lantern.
Just make sure you are stocking up on things your family will eat! Sardines are shelf stable, but you aren’t going to ever catch me taking advantage of them being on sale, yeah?
To stock up, I choose one or two things to focus on, each week. Today for example, I knew I wanted to add some veggies, a bit of fruit, and soup that was on Buy 2 Get 2 Free Special (making them about $1 each. Coupons would have made this even cheaper). I also knew I wanted to check for any meats that had been marked down, and boy, I hit the jackpot!
Markdown meats- $0.63 lb Purdue Roasting Chicken, and Pork Roast for $1.97 lb!
There are plenty of couponers out there who wouldn’t have called these prices great deals, but for my area stores, I was pleased! After the markdown coupons, the chickens were an average of $0.65 a lb! I get so giddy over having a freezer thats chock-full of deals, like the eight loaves of bread I brought home last week for $0.59 each! Woo!
Next week I know we are in need of restocking our pastas, pasta sauce, and all canned tomato products. Somehow I managed to pretty much run through all of those and we use enough of those items for me to want to restock asap! I also want to make sure I pick up some hardy squash each time I shop to get some frozen.
This cupboard was built by my dad, and I am honestly not sure of the dimensions. It is a two-tier, large lazy susan. Lazy Susans are a great way to organize your pantry items in a small space and to keep them accessible!
Back up Baking Items, Peanut Butter, and Soups
Canned Beans and Tuna, Canned Veggies and Fruits
A few treats, and Shelf Stable rice milk, Evaporated Milk, and other beverages
Rices, pastas, cereals, juices, not pictured, are along the left side wall of the cupboard. We also keep baby cereal, formula, and some jarred baby foods in the opposite side. Even though I am a staunch breastfeeding mommy, who’s a bit of a stickler for the healthiest (um, and cheapest!) ways to feed our babies, I am realistic and realize there is always a chance of an emergency where Nat could possibly need to be fed formula. Remember, much of the purpose of a stocked pantry is to be prepared *just in case*!
In addition to this cupboard, we have a cabinet with spices, open baking items, and large glass jars with various lentils and dried beans. Its not very pretty but it works! Underneath that is more flour, a huge amount of olive oil (a perk of a husband being a chef is being able to order items in bulk!) and oatmeal canisters. We also have a small cabinet in the basement with all sorts of jams, jellies, and sauces, next to the deep freezer. Both my mom and grandmother are wonderfully ‘gifted’ canners and one of my goals next year is to get serious about building my canning skills! We are planning a large garden next spring and I cant wait to get creative with sauces, jellies and salsas from our garden!
Some people are able to devote entire rooms and basement areas to their food storage and aim for 6 months, a year, or even more of food. We are not seeking to store that much food long term (right now I would like to work on a solid 3 months, then 6), but its great to see how some people go about organizing their pantries, large or small! Be sure to check out my Pinterest board, Home Organization, to take a peek at all sorts of ways to keep your pantry, kitchen, and home organized!