Stocked Pantry Cuts Food Costs

A well-planned pantry saves time, money and stress in the kitchen.

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Pantry Jars Keep Foods Fresh and Save Money DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

What's the goal of establishing and maintaining a pantry? It's two-fold: household convenience and protection against unexpected events. A well-planned pantry means that the household will never run out of commonly used products such as toilet paper. More important, a pantry is a reserve against hard times. Whether it's job loss, illness or natural disaster, a pantry ensures that the family will continue to be fed, clean and comfortable in the face of adversity.

Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced?

A beginner's pantry focuses on convenience and contains back-up products for each storable item used in the home. The standard is simple: for each open bag, box or carton, the pantry contains a second, back-up product. A good first goal: a three-day supply of food and hygiene supplies adequate to support your family plus one additional person.

More robust pantries serve additional aims. In case of emergency, a mid-range pantry can feed a family for a period of two weeks to a month. This pantry includes substitutes for fresh foods, such as powdered milk, dried fruits and vegetables, and protein products.

The most comprehensive home pantries are designed to meet long-term food storage needs. To do so, these premier pantry managers stock versatile foodstuffs with long shelf life, such as whole wheat berries, together with a variety of preserved and dried foods.

Stocking the Pantry

Whether it's Chef Boy-ar-dee brand ravioli or Wolfgang Puck's upscale condensed soups, build your pantry to suit your family, your finances and the storage space you have available.

Single-income households with young children will build pantries replete with cold cereal, formula, disposable diapers and child-friendly snack foods. Empty-nesters with an active social life and his-and-hers diets will lean toward pickled asparagus, low-sodium veggies, and tiny jars of cocktail nibbles for pick-up appetizers and hostess gifts. Dedicated home bakers will include specialty flours, gluten and dried buttermilk powder in their pantries, while noncooks will rely heavily on microwave entrees and freezer pizza. And just about every family can stockpile basics for kitchen and bath, such as toilet paper, toothpaste, detergent and paper napkins.

Check the Grocery List

Where's the best place to discover your family's pantry preferences? Your grocery list. If you buy it, use it, and it can be stored, it's a pantry candidate. Building a pantry from the grocery list is also a powerful antidote to Pantry Mania: the indiscriminate purchase of case lots of canned turkey chili or house brand soups that no one in the household will eat.

An expansive view of the pantry principle also allows for freezer storage and a limited amount of refrigerator real estate. Carrots, potatoes, oranges and apples enter the pantry zone when bought on sale and tucked into corners of the vegetable bin, while freezer convenience entrees qualify, too.

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Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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