In part 11 of our large family organization tips series we are going to look at our pantry and stocking it for emergencies.
When we were first married I would do our shopping once per week. Sometimes I would realize that I forgot an ingredient to make a certain dinner and I would have to load up a child and run to the store. Fast forward to 10 children later and this scenario does not happen anymore. I have realized over the years of my marriage the importance of stocking a pantry.
Stocking a pantry doesn’t mean having 10 pkgs of flavored rice.It means have 20 lbs of rice and the spices to make it. When you have a large family the importance of buying in bulk is tremendous. I have to think long term, what can I feed my family if I can’t get to the store.
I plan out our menu for the month and then base my shopping list off of that menu. If we are having a month where I don’t have to worry about cutting back on my expenses then I purchase everything that i need to make those meals for the month, even if I already have that item in the pantry. For those months that I need to cut back because we had an unexpected financial emergency then I use up the stock in my pantry.
This has been very crucial to us not running out of food. I have learned to stock my pantry. It has taken me about 6 months to do it and I have used about $50 extra dollars each month to devote to it. That means that when I have planned our regular household menu I have cut out things that would cost me more to purchase and substituted something cheaper. Instead of choosing a costly snack item to make, I would opt for something simpler like air popped popcorn. Same for desserts and treats, I just made them basic so that I was able to devote the extra money to stocking my pantry.
Having a stocked pantry has been helpful in being prepared for emergencies as well. There was a time that we were scrambling along with the rest of the people living in our area to get to the store and have water and food because there was a power outage. But this past winter when we lost power for a week, we had a very comfortable time as a family. We were prepared and did not have to feel any sort of inconvenience except for the ability to watch a video at night. We may not live in areas where hurricanes or other natural disasters hit but after last winter and having an ice storm that knocked out power to our area for a week, it has helped us to be prepared always.
Having a stocked pantry has given me a peace of mind and let’s me not worry about the what ifs in my life.
As part of our stocked pantry, we do a bulk food shopping trip at a Mennonite store about every 3 months. I buy raw sugar in 50 lb bags, white whole wheat flour in 50 lb bags, oatmeal in 50 lb bags, popcorn seeds in 25 lb bags, and rice in 25 lb bags. I store these in 5 gallon plastic buckets with lids.
I also purchase coconut oil in 1 gallon plastic jars, natural honey in 1/2 gallon containers and peanut butter in gallon jugs.
Here is how we did it:
Each month we worked on storing up a weeks worth of water supply per person. Each person needs 1 gallon of water per day.
When emergencies happen, water is one of the first things to disappear off of store shelves. Don’t let your family go without. You can live without much food but you can’t live without water.
This is how much you would need per person for a weeks worth supply of water.
2.2 @ 24 ct. cases of 16.9 oz. bottles (commercially bottled)
14 @ 64 oz. juice bottles (wash & dry, and fill with water)
7 @ 1 gallon heavy duty bottles (commercially bottled)
27 @ 2 liters soda bottles (wash & dry, and fill with water)
Every 6 months, I rotate using this water. We as a large family use water bottles when we run errands in the van. We don’t drink tap water so for our family it is easy to put into the rotation our stored water with new water.
Along with working on storing up our water per person this is the extras I concentrated on for the month.
- bottled juices
- tomato juice
- powdered milk
- instant coffee
- box cereal
- pasta–spaghetti, elbow macaroni, penne pasta
- spices –taco seasoning, gravy pkts, dried spices from the bulk food store
- chicken bouillon, beef bouillon
- bacon bits
- canned vegetables–green beans, carrots, peas,corn, potatoes
- canned beans–pinto, black, chili, refried
- pizza sauce
- jarred spaghetti sauce
- Alfredo sauce
- diced tomatoes
- canned fruit
- crackers –saltine and graham
- we usually always have a months supply of garbage bag snack mix
- canned chicken
- ranch dressing
- peanut butter
- jelly–even though we have a freezer full of strawberry jam,I keep 2 jars on the shelf for emergencies
These are things we don’t necessarily stock up on, but I do like to have a pile of extras in the pantry for baking.
- baking powder
- baking soda
- chocolate chips
- M&Ms for making monster cookies
Our freezer is usually pretty full. I know we have a years worth of applesauce, strawberry jam, and blueberries. I purchase our meat once per month as well. We always have a supply of chicken and hamburger with which to use.
I like to stock an emergency preparedness pantry with items that my family would eat. Especially in times of an emergency when stress is already high, you don’t want the added stress of your family eating unfamiliar foods. Choose to stock your pantry with items that you will normally eat up.
I rotate all of these foods, when we go shopping I bring the old to the front and put the new in the back.
I try and have the following on hand to make emergency situations more pleasant.
- fettucine and jar Alfredo sauce
- Spaghetti and jar sauce
- Velveeta cheese—it can store on the shelf(gross I know) but it can replace “real” cheese for comfort foods like homemade mac and cheese or eggs.
- crackers and peanut butter–little ones easy snack
- pickles–because all of the children love these
Having our pantry stocked for our large family has helped me to be better prepared. I feel like anything can happen at anytime and my family will be taken care of.
Here are a few items that we also stock for emergency preparedness
- rechargeable batteries
- paper plates, cups, silverware
- paper towels
- wipes and diapers
- manual can opener–don’t forget this one:)
- Coleman gas stove
- propane tanks
- tea light candles
- wind up radio/flashlight—found at goodwill
- bleach–to sanitize water
- matches and lighters
- kerosene heater