Food storage is a big component of how I manage our home and feed a family of 8 every day. It’s not fancy or perfect but it’s a system that works for us. It includes healthy affordable food, it’s easy to maintain, and it reflects our basic meals. I think those are the most important factors of keeping a pantry or storing food.
My goal is to have 3 months of staple foods stored here at home. For a large family that’s a lot of food! Above you see one area I use, it’s under our kitchen bar and faces our kitchen table. My husband built these shelves and they have been a huge help. Our house was built with no pantry or real place to keep larger quantities of food so anything extra is great.
In this same room I have a cupboard that came with the house. I keep canned food in my dining room while bins and buckets of various things are stored in our hall closet. Buckets of grains and beans are in the garage where I keep our grain mill. It’s everywhere! Below you can see the cupboard where I store pasta, cereal, onions, bulk spices, herbs, and teas.
We live a few miles out of town and homeschool so I can’t go to the store to buy ingredients on a whim. That’s where storing what we eat and cooking from our food storage comes in. If I don’t have enough potatoes for dinner, I can cook rice or couscous or quinoa.
My wake up call came at the start of the pandemic when I knew that I should be better prepared. At the beginning we didn’t know how safe it was to go to stores or they were sold out of what we needed. I knew then that I should never have stopped maintaining a pantry. Later I realized how much stress it relieved to know I had things on hand to fed my family well.
There were several things I did differently this time though. First I wrote a list of everything we used in a month, and I mean everything! Food, water, cleaning supplies, personal care items, batteries, spices and herbs, gardening supplies, coffee, tea, first aid, medication, and medical supplies. Next I figured how much we used every month and multiplied that amount by three. Then I made a plan to buy those things as I did my usual shopping.
If it wasn’t something we didn’t eat or use regularly, I didn’t buy it. There’s not enough space or money to buy and store something just because. Then we used our food storage and just replaced items as we used the first one in our stock.
After two years of practicing this there is one thing about it that is my favorite. The security is nice and having a variety of food on hand is great. However sharing food when we can is the best part. I can share with someone who has a need, or someone who can’t get out to the store for some reason. When our son left for college, I set up a pantry for his apartment out of my own storage easily because I knew exactly what I had and how much was there.
Later I’ll share more specific details about how I manage different things and show other storage systems I have but this gives you a good idea of the how and why for our pantry.