Building and stocking
By Jackie Clay
At the turn of the 19th century, most country homes had a walk-in pantry, as well as a root cellar for keeping vegetables and fruits. This pantry contained the essentials for daily meals. Today we have walk-in closets to hang all our clothes, but no pantry. How times have changed!
Everyone should have a pantry containing a good supply of the foods they use most frequently. A well-stocked pantry is not only the foundation for a good kitchen, but it is essential to a family's well-being, should some unforeseen calamity pop up. I have two years' worth of food stashed away in my basement pantry. All that food sure came in handy the first year we were here on our new homestead. Not only did my small garden freeze out on July 27th, but suddenly Mom and Dad came to live with us in "camping" conditions, doubling our food consumption when we were all broke.
Convenience is another very good reason to keep a well-stocked pantry. I seldom need to run to the store to buy an ingredient for a meal. Everything I need is already handy at home. Just think of all the gas and time I save.
Many foods, including flour, sugar, store-bought and home-canned canned goods, rice, dry beans, pasta, etc., stay good for years, with no special treatment other than keeping them dry, insect and rodent-free, and relatively cool.Large, colorful holiday popcorn tins keep dry foods, such as flour,
sugar, rolled oats, and noodles, safe from insects and rodents.
I can already hear you: "Two years worth of food! Where will I keep it all? I can't afford to buy that much! I'm new to homesteading, gardening, and canning...it will take me forever to fill my pantry!"
What I do is stock up on things when they're on sale. For instance, when brown sugar was on sale for 99 cents a bag a couple years ago, I bought two dozen bags. Brown sugar is now more than $2 a bag, but I still have a whole lot, so I haven't needed to buy any. Just look at the money I saved, plus the convenience of having it in my pantry any time I get an urge to make cookies or other goodies!
I always buy more than one food item. If I need yeast, I buy two one-pound bags, freezing one for long-term storage and keeping one in a jar in the fridge to use now. I can buy a pound of yeast for only slightly more than a few packets of "regular" baking yeast at the store. This way the cost is kept down, and I'm assured of having plenty when I need it.Where do I put a pantry in a house with none?My little basement landing pantry, made by simply leaving off
the drywall in this area and adding little shelves.
You'd be surprised at how much it holds.
I have lived on homesteads where I had to get a little creative in order to plan for a pantry. Our little cabin in Montana hardly had room for our wood kitchen range, let alone a pantry. We knew we would be snowed in for at least five months out of the year, so we needed a large pantry. The easiest remedy for our situation was to add on to the cabin. Using log rafters and other materials scavenged from the local dump and bought inexpensively, we added a kitchen and pantry to the existing cabin.
In New Mexico, we moved into a small old house in the middle of the high plains. The whole house didn't even have a small closet, but there was a back porch we didn't really need. I blocked up the window to keep it cooler and darker, then built shelves on all three sides. It worked great, and was directly off the kitchen, to boot.
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