Updated on 08.28.14

Treasures in the Cupboard

Trent Hamm

Eight Tactics We Use to Maximize the Value of Our Pantry

My wife and I have an overstuffed pantry. Sometimes, it’s almost difficult to get the door closed because we have so much food stocked away. And, to an extent, I’m proud of this: I often view our pantry as one of the most frugal places in our home.

This often comes as a surprise to people who visit us – and is perhaps a surprise to you as well. Doesn’t food get old in there? Isn’t it wasteful to have such a huge amount of food on hand? What can you possibly keep in there that isn’t wasteful? Aren’t there just tons of things in the back of the pantry that are out of date, just waiting to be tossed (and wasting money along the way)?

We actually use a number of tactics for stocking, rotating, and utilizing our pantry so that the food kept inside has maximum value. Here’s how we do it.

How We Effectively Utilize Our Pantry

We eat virtually every meal at home

I actually believe this is the key to the whole equation. Our pantry is full, but the stuff inside the pantry gets used all the time. We eat 90% of our meals at home with the four of us seated around a table eating something we’ve prepared with the food in our pantry.

We focus mostly on staples with a long shelf life

So, what food is actually in our pantry? Most of our pantry is filled with staples that have a long shelf life. Here’s a quick checklist of the items that take up more than half the space in there: baking powder, baking soda, sugar (brown, white, etc.), pasta (many varieties), corn meal, corn starch, flour (all-purpose, white, wheat, rye, pumpernickel, etc.), rice, salt (table salt, sea salt, etc.), spices (a huge number), vinegar, and dry yeast. Virtually all of these items last for years – we buy them and use them until they’re gone.

We buy those staples in bulk

We buy the staples listed above in large quantities – big bags of flour, rice, and so forth. By buying them in bulk, we’re able to save a lot of money on the purchase of such items, reducing the cost of each and every meal that we eat. And, since these items don’t get old or wear out (well, at least not over a short period), we almost never throw away any of the bulk.

We use airtight containers for many items

One concern that many people have with large quantities of staples (like flour, sugar, and rice) is that they’re targets for infestation – mold, mice, and so on. Our solution? We store all of our materials in jars and buckets that are tightly sealed. This keeps the staples as fresh as possible and keeps them from being infested.

We recognize the foods we like and eat them regularly

We like eating pasta dishes. We like homemade bread and breadsticks. We like simple stir fries with a variety of spices and some rice on the side. We like tacos and enchiladas. We’ll eat these things over and over again – everyone likes them and as long as we don’t eat them every day, we don’t get tired of them. Thus, it makes a lot of sense for us to have a lot of the staples for these recipes on hand.

We rotate our entire pantry regularly

Of course, many items in our pantry aren’t such staples – they’re other items, purchased for specific recipes or because they seemed intriguing. Often, these items will gradually find their way to the back of the pantry. Our solution to this is simple: about once a month, we rotate everything in the pantry. We pull everything out and put things back in a new order, bringing forgotten things to the front. This usually inspires a few days’ worth of dinner recipes and also keeps us from wasting things.

We plan ahead for major disasters

We also keep several gallons of water in our pantry and also some “ready to eat” meals. Why do we do this? In the event of a major disaster, where we might be left without power for a week or two, we want to be prepared with the food and supplies on hand that we would need. This takes up some pantry space, of course, and we’re lucky in that we’ve not had to use the supplies since moving to our home, but if such an event happened, these items would be worth their weight in gold.

We share

Last summer, on a whim, I made six loaves of zucchini bread and gave them to our neighbors. Why? I was in the mood to cook, we had an abundance of fresh zucchini, and there was plenty of ingredients in the pantry. When I gave over these loaves, virtually all of the neighbors were very happy to receive them – and it helped us to build a good relationship with some of the ones we didn’t know as well. If you have an abundance of food and an abundance of time, you have the opportunity to share the food you make with those around you – and build valuable relationships along the way.

That’s how our pantry rolls.

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  1. paula d. says:

    Trent- I can’t sing the praises of a well stocked pantry loud enough. I live in a semi-rural area (30 min. to nearest large grocery) and since I don’t go near a grocery on a daily basis, I often do my meal planning out of the cupboard. Also, I too like being prepared in case of a disaster, like the only road in and out of town being closed by a downed tree or mud slide. It has happened!

    Great post, also I usually end up saving money by not going to the grocery on a daily basis!

  2. Michelle says:

    FYI- you should really store yeast in the freezer. It will stay usable for much longer if it’s kept below freezing.

  3. anon says:

    Great post! I like your tactical posts more than the general “the benefits of living frugally” posts.

  4. Kate says:

    I absolutely hate going to the grocery store so a well-stocked pantry is great and can really save money and makes eating out less tempting. I don’t stock up on flour and sugar, though, because there is always a brand that is on sale (and I am not choosy about brands for those things). I do, though, on oatmeal because the place that I buy it in bulk is a 30 minute drive from my house.
    If you have a family member who really likes a pricy item that has a long shelf-life stocking up when that item is on sale really saves money. I have a ton of jam in my pantry right now because the expiry date is 2010. Ditto for tea.

  5. Fostermamas says:

    It just tickles me pink that you said “that’s how our pantry rolls”

    We also cook from scratch using whole, fresh ingredients. The biggest change for us has been beverages. Typically our pantry was overrun with sodas, drink powders and the like. Now it’s tea, juice, milk and water.

  6. Bryan says:

    “That’s how our pantry rolls” is definitely the best part of this post…very awesome.

  7. Fred says:

    From just in time to just in case – disaster prevention or complete breakdown of the supply chain – two weeks worth of food & water is a very good idea, or must I say a necessary insurance?

    Throw in one month worth of expenses in coins and small bills, a bank holiday is not as remote a possibility as we are led to believe; and a few silver coins…

    Good relationship with the neighbors is true wealth when “make do” times our way come again.

    Well done Trent!

  8. Lynn says:

    Just a question for anyone: I keep flour in tupperware containers–will that be enough to prevent the “infestation” of anything Trent mentioned? Please help, because I am totally grossed out. Thanks!

  9. SWAtlanta says:

    Leigh and Jay Hallinan are the poster family for frugality. They have some great tips on saving money and the environment at http://www.ebillplace.com/save money. And if you submit a tip, you’re automatically entered for a drawing to win one of six copies of America’s Cheapest Family” http://www.eBILLPLACE.com.

  10. L says:

    I saved a lot of money when I had teenagers living at home by stocking a pantry and a freezer. The challenge now that we are down to just the two of us is not stocking up so much. Its almost easier to be frugal when you have more mouths to feed: more satisfying to cook instead of go out, easier to buy in bulk.

  11. Deena says:

    What a great post! Very practical.

  12. Jade says:

    There is only one item that I would buy in bulk because it isn’t perishable and I know it will eventually be used: Diet Coke. Seriously. I don’t drink it anymore, but my dad drinks so much that he could manipulate the market! And the best deal on it is usually around 4th of July when it is almost as cheap as store brand at regular price (My dad won’t drink the store brand unfortunately…). If I had space, I’d stock up for the whole year!

    I could use a 2nd freezer as mine is usually packed to the brim, but aside from wanting to store a year’s worth of Diet Coke, my pantry is big enough for what I need. Between my freezer, fridge, and cupboards I could feed 2 people for at least a week, and then another 3 days with the canned food I store outside with the rest of my earthquake supplies. I usually rotate that canned food when we go on camping trips every summer.

    Oh, and I like to stock up on bottled water too, and I rotate it by keeping a case by the front door for when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to run back to the kitchen to refill a bottle before I leave the house. The larger, 1-gallon bottles get rotated on camping trips every summer

    I just hope that when the 8.0+ quake hits on the fault line less than a mile from my house that 2 weeks worth of food and water will be enough…

  13. KED says:

    Just wanted to say awesome article!! My husband’s company has deferred his last quarter’s bonus until April, so having a well stocked pantry has softened the blow of less money this month.

    Just today I am cooking a oreo cheesecake for my nephew, we didn’t have money to run out and get a gift for his birthday. So-o-o from my pantry and obviously fridge I am combining two of his favorite foods to create a restaurant style cheesecake just for him. He knows it is coming and he is very happy!

    Love your articles!!!

  14. Faculties says:

    Jade, Diet Coke *does* expire — the expiration date should be on the bottom of the bottle. You might want to check and be sure it’s not close to expiration when you buy it. The aspartame eventually degrades — into formaldahyde. It tastes really foul when that happens, as I know from experience. Even when it’s close to expiration, the sweetness starts to go off. So buyer beware.

  15. Brad says:

    Any ideas on storage containers?? I try to reuse things that products come in but those store bought containers are very expensive for storing flour, sugar etc.

  16. Ro says:

    Very good article. We also have a pantry like yours. In lean times with our budgeting, it has carried us until we could have more money coming in. Everyone should have a panty and know how to cook from scratch.

  17. Bo says:

    Do you have any suggestions for those of us that are single? Stocking up is often difficult, especially for just one person! I find that if I try to make various meals out of the same ingredients (so as not to waste), I’m tired of those ingredients by the end of the week and end up eating out.

  18. Julie-Ann says:

    Lynn asked:
    Just a question for anyone: I keep flour in tupperware containers–will that be enough to prevent the “infestation” of anything Trent mentioned? Please help, because I am totally grossed out. Thanks!

    A few years ago “they” changed the rules about the amount of pesticides used at mills so people who didn’t have trouble with infestation discovered problems.

    Easy solution: Put flour and grain based stuff that is going to be stored a long time in the freezer (I do it for about a week). It kills off the buggers and you shouldn’t have trouble.

    There are a lot of “home remedies” to prevent infestation. Just do a internet search and find one that works for you.

  19. PF says:

    Expired Diet coke is NASTY. Jade, your poor dad! :-)
    I’m looking at one I just bought yesterday and it expires in April, so only about a 3-4 month shelf-life.

  20. Kari says:

    This is all great advice, especially the part about stocking up for a major disaster. I don’t think a lot of people do this, but we had one recently with a Hurricane that came through. Our power was only out for about 3 days, but some people in the area went weeks without power. All those canned goods and the camp stove we had really came in handy. It’s amazing how hard it is to go without power for even a short time and the more prepared your are, the easier it will be.

  21. Joan says:

    You can freeze your flour and you will not have the weebils in it even after you remove it from the freezer to your shelf.

  22. oneofnine says:

    Totally agree with PF, with one exception: all Diet Coke is nasty, not just expired. Go online and look at all the research about artificial sweeteners; it doesn’t just break down into formaldahyde when it expires, it does so in your body. If possible, help your dad wean himself off it or just treat himself to a regular Coke as a treat once in a while. That would be the most frugal route, as well as creating better health for him.

    Trent, my mom would love this post but she also has a problem with OVER-stocking her pantry. She raised 9 kids very successfully on a shoestring budget and got into the habit of buying a lot on sale as well as bulk. Now she only has two children in the house but she has two refrigerators, a stand-up freezer, and a pantry full of crap. She could eat off what she has for at least six months, but she just can’t resist a sale. How do you help someone when they have a 30 year track record of buying enormous quantities of bulk/sale items?

    I need to send her your other post: “If You Don’t Need It, It’s NOT a Deal!”

    Great work once again.

  23. Karen Bethel says:

    Trent, I can’t wait to show this to my husband. I like a well-stocked pantry too, but not so much for the disaster thing, but so that I can create a meal without having to run to the grocery store. He just doesn’t get it. He is very frugal and thinks that having more food than we need for a week is just wasteful. I keep trying to explain the convenience of having what I need on hand, but he really doesn’t get it. Thanks for a great article!

  24. Chapeau says:

    @Lynn: According to my favorite flour manufacturer, a bay leaf in the bag or airtight container will discourage infestations. I use my flour up pretty quickly, and haven’t noticed that it affects the taste of the finished product.

  25. Great post Trent. It seems that freezers are becoming part of more and more people’s pantries. They allow you to stock up on things when they’re at their absolute lowest sale price including meats, milk, concentrated orange juices and even staples like sugar, flour, mixes, etc.

    Another great benefits of the freezer is that you can make meals ahead of time and then put them in your freezer for use when you have a hectic day and need dinner in a hurry. Like having a fast food restaurant in your freezer.

  26. Melody says:

    I need to cook more from scratch, but I can definately attest to the ‘disaster’ angle. With my coleman propane stove and other supplies, we were the house to visit during one of the last hurricanes to hit around us. (2004) Our block had a power line down and lost power for about 5 days. Thanks to gas hot water, our neighbors came over to take showers, too!
    Question for the readers – does anyone have a ‘non-standard’ pantry location? just asking because my kitchen doesn’t allow for one, and we knocked-down the shoddy wall the previous owners had built as a pantry/kitchen doorway when we moved in. (trust me, the whole house was open, then a closed-off kitchen. It looked stupid) I’m trying to look ‘outside the box’ on this one, without much luck. Thanks!

  27. Kari says:


    We have a small place and a small kitchen without much storage. We used the closet in our spare bedroom as a pantry for a long time until we bought 2 free-standing country red wood pantries from JCPenney.com (about $80 – $100 each) to put in the dining area and I keep all my baking stuff in those now. Maybe it was wierd to use the bedroom closet, but we didn’t have many guests and when we did we just told them, hey if you get hungry in the middle of the night, here are the snacks! They all laughed.

  28. Wayward says:

    Oh how I love a well-stocked pantry… let me count the ways. Never mind, Trent already did! It never ceases to amaze Scoob how many meals I can pull out of our pantry when he complains that there’s no food in the house.

  29. Jen says:

    Melody — a hall closet works well as a pantry, especially if it’s near the kitchen. You can build in some shelves (or install one of those shelving kits from Home Depot or even just put an old bookcase in the closet if it will fit) to make it more functional.

  30. Sydnee says:

    We store our flour in the refrigerator not only does it keep the bugs/mice away but it helps to have cold flour for making pie crust. I do buy it in bulk too. But I am one of those with 2 refrigerators and a upright freeze in the house. We have one refrigerator for the veggies/fruit/meat and the other for milk/eggs/flour.

  31. dinah says:

    there is something very satisfying about being able to open your cupboards and have a wide variety of items to choose from and knowing that you will be able to make wholesome and wonderful foods.

  32. tiphaine says:

    your pantry rocks!

  33. My dad always had a huge stockpile of food and now I find that I have the same. My daughter thinks I am so cheap but I just cant help myself.

  34. Jen says:


    I use a closet in one of my spare bedrooms as an overflow pantry. I keep some canned good in there plus paper products.

  35. Abigail says:

    I wanted to mention that whole wheat flour should be stored in the refrigerator rather than the pantry because it goes rancid at room temperature. Whether this is true of rye flour, I don’t know. And as another poster wrote, yeast should also be stored in either the refrigerator or freezer.

  36. I keep a pretty well-stocked pantry too, but I need to be better about the once-a-month taking stock thing! I’ve gotten very good at keeping up on the state of my fridge, but that habit just hasn’t spread to my pantry yet.

  37. tammy says:

    Oh i wish I had a pantry! I’m a perimeter shopper on a budget. One of these days I’m going to have a well stocked pantry!!!

  38. Isabelle says:

    Can you give the recipe for zucchini bread please. 2008 was very wet here and we had a miserable crop, but the year before was good and I (and the population of the UK) are hoping for something better this year. This means we should get a better crop and the bread sounds good.

    Love this pantry talk!

  39. Kathy says:

    Isabelle, I know about too much zucchini! In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver says in the summer her neighbors lock their doors not to keep out burglars, but to keep out other neighbors wanting to leave bags full of zucchini. I get mine from a CSA, and this is a recipe from their newsletter. I sometimes double it.

    Preheat oven to 350′

    whisk together in a bowl:
    1 1/4 c flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    in another bowl mix:
    3/4 c sugar
    2 large eggs beaten
    1/2 c oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    Stir the two bowls together and add 2 cups shredded zucchini(skins and all)
    Put into bread pan and cook about 40 minutes(or until bread pulls away
    from edge of pan).

  40. cv says:

    Melody, my parents have a quite large cupboard in the laundry room, near the entrance to the garage, that they use as a pantry. It’s easy enough to run downstairs and grab a jar of pasta sauce after you put the water on to boil. For many things, like cereal, the open box is in the kitchen cabinet and others bought on sale are downstairs. Of course, spices and things live in the kitchen cabinets, not the pantry. It’s worked for them for 30 years.

  41. Great tips. I especially like that you rotate the items in your pantry often. That seems to be our trouble – we forget about certain things being there. A similar idea is to try to just live out of your pantry and freezer every couple of months instead of the normal weekly trip to the grocery store. Just stop and get milk and other items that need to be bought fresh, and then get creative.

  42. mes says:

    I come from a long line of pantry-stockers. Grandparents and parents did a lot of canning and freezing, so there were always shelves full of good stuff. I wish I had the time and motivation to do that. Instead I keep my cupboards full of most of the items that Trent mentioned. I also stock up on canned goods, cereals, etc. when the price is right.

    Melody– I have a tiny pantry in my kitchen, but I re-purposed a storage cabinet in the garage to catch the overflow. One section for food, one for soap, shampoo, tp, etc. If you’re thoughtful about how you arrange things, you can fit a huge amount into a small space.

  43. S says:

    Melody #18 – under the bed storage plastic bins work great! Also keeps the food away from hot/cold and garage/cleaning chemicals.

    Also, we added another half (depth) wire shelf at the top of our panty for overstock.

  44. ooohhitskaren says:

    @Melody….I have a very small pantry in my kitchen..so what I did was buy one of the storage cabinets you can put in your garage with shelves in it…I have mine next to my service door to my kitchen from the garage. I keep canned goods in it, pasta, my home canning..I need a second one..lol. I also have my stand up freezer in the garage on the other side of the service door. I need to clean my pantry in the kitchen out and see what’s in there…lol This spring/summer/fall the pantries/freezer will be filled with lots of home grown veggies/fruit…I can’t wait. I noticed this year..from what I grew in my little garden and what I got from the farmers at good prices..I haven’t spent as much each week or two like I used to. I don’t have as much to buy, except for bread and juice and a few fresh veggies that I could not get from farmers..that I will grow this year…turnips, potatos, carrots, cabbage. And once I get my bread machine..saving for that…I won’t have to buy bread anymore…yummy..can’t wait!!!!

  45. Your note about disaster prep reminded me of the meal Mom served after a big earthquake: spaghetti o’s on a propane grill. (We weren’t supposed to have gas running in case of significant aftershocks.) You never know what you’ll have to be prepared for!

  46. Chris says:

    Great article Trent, I salute you. A well stocked pantry is definately a must for any family. I can relate to the eating at home, I recently wrote an article on how to save money and that was a big point I made in there. I think others could benefit from the information aswell, here is the link:

  47. richerandslimmer.com says:

    As someone who has recently decided to save more money (and one of the ways I try to do it is by eating out less), I have started stocking my pantry with ingredients that can make my favorite restaurant dishes. For example, I used to love Olive Garden lasagna. But now, every time I have a craving to go out to Olive Garden, I just bake a homemade lasagna, which satisfies my craving without burning a hole in my pocket.

  48. Des says:


    Artificial sweeteners into formaldahyde? Cite your source.


  49. Cindy says:

    We keep a large pantry for several reasons: in case of a job loss, in case of a natural disaster, I like to “shop” in my pantry rather than run to the store, and I’m able to take advantage of super sale items and really stock up on things that we use a lot of. I have a large pantry cabinet in the kitchen, 4 sets of shelving in the basement for the extras, plus a large upright freezer. If we had to, we could live off our pantry for at least 6 months! BTW, another item that doesn’t keep long is flour tortillas! Once they get buggy, they can infest your whole pantry very quickly! BTDT!!

  50. Sandy says:

    @comment #26…try Trents’s homemade bread recipe before you run out and buy a machine. It’s really pretty easy, and I’ve made bread (I double the recipe for my family)every week since I started using it..
    As for the pantry, I keep a really well supplied pantry. When we bought our house, which was 20 years old when we bought it 10 years ago, it had some great shelving units throughout the basement. At first, I wondered what I would do with all that shelving, but soon realized that it would be the perfect pantry.
    Once, I even went through and counted th number of meals that my pantry would produce, if a disaster did occur. While I was sure that I had perhaps 3-4 months worth (which is my aim), I was surprised to count out only about 25 days worth of meals and snacks. So, while I haven’t completely addressed it to have 3 months worth, I’m not fooling myself anymore, and have a better idea of what my pantry will see my family through. We also eat and rotate out of the pantry.
    The garden is also quite a help also with the streching of food dollars. Last year, my friendly neighborhood gophers ate a huge portion of my produce, so a really good fence went up in the fall, including chicken wire well under the fence, so they will have to find another garden to eat out of this spring and summer!!!

  51. Sophia says:

    It’s interesting you mentioned disaster preparedness. Just the other day, in two different magazines, I saw a full page add from the Dept. of Homeland Security. It was a pyramid of food made from the random things people might have in their pantry (like old candy canes and honey and maybe a lonely tin of veggies) and it said “If a disaster struck, what would your family’s food pyramid look like after three days?” It then recommended having three full days of food.

    Of course, I’m surrounded by my Mormon friends here, and they’re counseled to have TWO YEARS of food storage, so three days sounds like a tiny recommendation to me ;) I think your timeline of a few weeks is right on- not too little, not two years ;)

  52. Sal says:

    Melody –
    I have a very small kitchen & no garage or basement to over flow into.
    I have an old dresser in my bed room that I store bulk canned & jarred goods in (like a case of canned corn). When we get home from our monthly grocery shopping one of us goes to that dresser and pulls 3-4 cans of each to put in the kitchen for consumption. When a case gets down to about 8-10 cans then I’ll buy another.
    Cans of soda pop get stored under a different old tall dresser & go un-noticed thanks to a skirt I made to go there (imagine a bed skirt sized down for an old Victorian dresser). The skirt also keeps the cans clean (according to my son).
    Then in our “office/library/guest” room I have a big wardrobe type particle board thing that I store my potatoes, onions, bulk flour, grains, extra spices and other baking goods in (like baking soda, etc). In the kitchen I use bay leaves to keep creepy things away, in the bed & office I use cloves.
    Both the bay leaves & cloves I can buy in HUGE bags for under $2 at an Indian market I go to once or twice a year.
    My son has recently developed the “hollow leg” syndrome that boys tend get so, my pantry has been draining faster then normal. I think I’ll either have to start to get food twice a month or start buying twice as much when I go. Depending upon how close it is to payday, we usually have a month & half worth of food.
    I wish I could get Trents bread recipe to work – my bread doesn’t rise much. It just explodes in the oven… I don’t think it’s the ingredients(I’ve tried different brands of yeast & flour) or the recipe – I think I’m just defective. At least I make a mean banana bread & yummy coffee cake :)

  53. I love a well-stocked pantry! Unfortunately, I don’t have the storage space right now to buy my flour and sugar in bulk. I do have plenty of dried beans, barley, canned tomatoes…etc. I dream of someday having an extra freezer so that we can buy a quarter cow. Usually, I get funny looks when I tell people this. But I figure I might get a friendly face here.

  54. michael bash says:

    re pantry — Bravo, I couldn’t agree with you more. M Bash in Thessaloniki

  55. Deborah says:

    Great post! Be careful with the baking powder and baking soda, though. Leavening should be replaced within 6 months of opening, or if it’s lumpy (moisture uses up it’s leavening ability, so never dip a damp measuring spoon in the box). Fortunately, baking soda can still be used for cleaning and freshening things up.

  56. Sharon says:

    Sal, are you by some chance living at a high altitude? Recipes need to be adjusted. Contact your local Extension Service for how, or look in most any standard cookbook.

  57. karen w says:

    comment #6 Yes, Tupperware (or Rubbermaid) will keep all of those pests at bay. The only caveat would be if it was infested before you brought it home. (grocery stores sometimes get bugs…ewww)

    About a non-traditional pantry, I purchased a 60″ tall modular storage cabinet at Target that I use as a pantry. Then, I found some “shelf expanders” that organize the big shelves with small boxes or cans. With these, everything is visible and easy to get at.

  58. Elizabeth says:

    Don’t forget the most important rule of a well-stocked pantry: First In, First Out. This is a basic rule to ensure that you don’t let anything age while using up newer supplies. I like the idea of moving things around every month. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting “pantry blindness” when I’m constantly seeing cans of tomatoes at the front of the shelf at eye level.

  59. Marilyn says:

    Somoene made passing reference to this above, but the LDS Church (Mormons) believe in large pantries and therefore have some wonderful websites on how to build and stock a pantry.
    In our house, when I see a good price on something we use, I buy 10-12 of them (sometimes more). By the time they are gone, we can generally find another sale.
    Another way of thinking – not all disasters are natural. Our pantry saved us during a job loss – because we had a great stock, we ate through the pantry for a few months, keeping our grocery bills very low. Once the income was flowing again, we restocked, and are ready for the next challenge!

  60. HebsFarm says:

    I once lived in a house with no pantry, but the closet for the washer/dryer was located next to the kitchen. So I bought a washer only, then installed shelving and put food where the dryer was supposed to go, and hung my clothes up to dry. Very satisfactory arrangement.

  61. beth says:

    This is such a good reminder to me to formalize my pantry contents a little better. Generally I buy 2 or 3 of something when I need 1 for a recipe, but I don’t really manage what’s in my pantry. There’s always enough to throw together at least a few days’ or a week’s worth of meals, but it’d take a little creative thought by Day 5.

    I used to get pre-made meal plans from a site called “Saving Dinner” (savingdinner.com) and Leanne has a list for her perpetual pantry that was very handy. More than I would actually keep on hand of some things, but a great start for me. As we move in the next month, I should pull that back out and re-stock the new place.

  62. mamacita says:

    That’s a great tip about rotating the pantry to inspire new meal ideas.

    BTW, food banks are really hurting right now. I work at a church, and we’re getting 3-4 times as many calls as usual for assistance of some kind. If there’s stuff in your pantry that you’re not going to use, please give it away before it goes bad.

  63. Jaideh says:

    Just a note about bread machines – check your local thrift stores before buying one. I got mine from my neighborhood church thrift store for five bucks. I’ve been using it for a couple years now with no problems. I’ve also scored a food dehydrator and a vacuum food sealer for super cheap.

  64. Rob in Madrid says:

    I don’t see how a pantry can save you money. Sure your shop less but then you spend more because you buy more. While I do keep an eye out for sales I’ve stopped stocking up so much, with just the wife as we don’t cook much. I’m still using tomato frito from a almost a year ago. I’ve been tracking my spending and stocking up is actually costing me more money.

    What I did do differently is to have a specific shopping list for each reciepe that I use so that when I cook I don’t have to make extra trips becuase I forgot the mushrooms.

  65. Emily says:

    If you shop during the sale and stock up, you save money.

    I am lucky enough to be a savvy shopper. I combine coupons and sales for the lowest prices. I don’t buy three on sale, I buy twenty maybe forty identical items.

  66. Kerry D says:

    About bread: I’ve been using my ancient bread machine and loving it, but it just makes one tiny loaf, and we have three growing teenagers. So, I’ve started making triple batches of bread, and turning it into homemade pizza (very popular!) It’s worked great–but an important step I’ve found is to combine the yeast, water (105-110 degrees), in a PLASTIC bowl and leave it to grow for 10 minutes. Then I mix this in with the rest of the ingredients. I found metal and ceramic bowls caused the temperature to drop and the yeast didn’t grow. Maybe that will help… And my pizza’s are pricing out at less than $1 each. :)

  67. nancy says:

    I love the topic a pantry is a must. We have a small kitchen so I purchased a rubbermaid 3 drawer unit it dosen’t take up much space and I keep pantry items in there. I also freed up cuboard space by paring down pots and pans.

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