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This is Why! part 6

Previous entries can be found HERE . Thus far we’ve talked about how I use leftovers to help stock my pantry, how I shop to fill my...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pantry Challenge # 5 ...2016

(Spring flowers are pushing through the ground at my house!)

I recently came across someone who is cultivating a minimalist mindset and only purchases a few days of groceries at a time.  Life and experience has taught me that this is a dangerous way to live.  The massive snow storm that hit the eastern part of the U.S. last week and the resulting affects is just one reason why, not to mention the many things that can, without warning, reduce one’s disposable income.

My husband and I live in a small house and I continually work to keep it de-cluttered.  I will be the first to say that too much stuff can be a real problem.  In that respect I want to have a minimalist mindset, but when it comes to my pantry … absolutely not.  I want my pantry to be well-stocked and equipped to meet my family’s needs for an extended period of time without having to go to the grocery store should that become necessary.

The current minimalist movement has its benefits but please be careful and not carry it too far. I would hate to see someone stop building up/maintaining their pantry because of this movement and then have reason to regret it later.  

Now, let’s see what I was able to do this week to build up and maintain my pantry …

My to-do list from last time:
Vacuum seal dry pinto beans into jars … continue to work on this as quart jars become empty

Thaw frozen turkeys and can … didn’t get done

Make and can broth from carcasses of turkeys after canning meat … didn’t get done

In addition:

I strained up some more grease from cooking hog jowl.   I’m getting quite a good supply of ‘seasoning grease’ in the refrigerator.

We had pinto beans for dinner one night and I saved the liquid from the beans after we were through with the meal. I froze it, added it to my pantry and will use it to add to a pot of soup.

We also cooked one of the hams we got on sale (see below) and I saved the pan drippings from it and froze it for use in a pot of soup, just like the bean juice leftovers mentioned above.

I had a large bag of carrots in the refrigerator left over from holiday baking (carrot cakes).  It wasn’t enough for a full canner so I purchased 2 bags of baby carrots that were on sale at Aldi’s for $.69/bag to have enough to finish filling the canner.  I added 9 pints to my pantry.

We found mushrooms on sale at Aldi’s also for $.79/container.  I purchased 12 containers, brought them home and canned them up.  I added 7 pints of whole mushrooms to my pantry.

On the same Aldi’s trip we found banana’s on sale for $.29/lb.  We bought just a little over 6 pounds and I made whole wheat banana bread with part of them and added it to the freezer part of my pantry.  This will be a convenience food for us.

Our chickens have started laying again this week!  To say that we are excited is an understatement.  We’ve been buying eggs for the last two months plus purchasing feed for the chickens.  I’m glad their ‘molting’ season is coming to an end.

Our weekly grocery budget is $25.  If we have surplus from another area of our budget then we add that to our grocery budget. This week we had a little surplus.  I thought you might like to see what we purchased  ….

From Aldi’s:  

Bananas … $.29/lb

2 Avocados … $.59 each  (you can see a portion of one at the bottom of the picture. I accidentally cropped them out of the picture!)

Baby carrots …. $.69/each  

Mushrooms … $.79/each

Total Spent: $14.15

From Sam’s Club:   

10 lbs onions … $5.98

Hunts tomato paste … $5.98

2 free Nutri-Grain bars free from a kisok.

Total Spent:  $12.20

From Food Lion:  

2 spiral cut hams on clearance … $19.53

Total from all stores:  $45.88  

Here’s my pantry to-do list for the upcoming week/month:

Continue vacuum sealing dry beans into jars
Thaw frozen turkeys and can 
Make and can broth from carcasses of turkeys after canning meat

Now it’s your turn, what have you done to build up your pantry?

She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27

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  1. I couldn't stop stocking my pantry. It gives me anxiety. I was a prepper before the prepper was considered a new thing. I am not sure why. My grama always had a stocked kitchen and I imagine it's because her and my papa grew up during depression.

  2. Dear Patsy, There was a massive best selling book last year and it was all about minimalism. She threw out everything that didn't bring her joy and encouraged others to do the same. People went mad over this book and everyone was talking about it. Also she talked to her stuff and thanked her stuff. So I thought she was a bit nuts but people took it deadly seriously. If people follow this advice it could kill them! As you say if a storm strikes they will have no food beyond day one. Or lighting or warmth.
    I read this book. She made a fortune out of it. Since I have been thinking why did it bug me so much? I think it is because it was leading people astray. I don't want to be drowning in useless clutter. But she went beyond that and literally had no stores of anything. It is not scriptural! It was in many ways the opposite of the Proverbs woman. If you followed this you WOULD be afraid of the winter and NOT be like merchant ships. I doubt you would even be making goods with your hands as it would make too much mess and clutter probably!
    So I couldn't agree with you more. There are some things I can see are ok like I keep a simple wardrobe, I don't keep clutter etc but to not be stocked up with warm blankets, coats etc when you live in a cold climate, food, lighting, first aid and sensible things... it is just nuts.
    As you can see this movement really bugs me. I even suspect it has a bad intent and will lead to people dying.
    Keep us building up our households and looking well to the ways of our homes! I am with you!
    Last week I added 24 jars of baby food plus sanitary products to my pantry. This was a goal. I make baby food normally but in a crisis ready made could be very handy.
    I had a very big week and we got loads done to finish off January! Now to a new month!
    With love, Annabel.xxx

    1. Annabel, I share your thoughts on the minimalist movement ... it is just not for me either! I think it is wonderful that you are including Harper's needs in your pantry building ... what a great grandma! I am impressed with your January savings totals! You go girl!

    2. I completely agree with Annabel.
      Like her and you Patsy, I think planning ahead is so important. My husband has retired early and I don't think we would be be nearly as comfortable if I didn't shop carefully and keep stockpiles.
      I'll keep reading your sweet blog and won't pay any attention to that minimalist mumbo-jumbo.

    3. Annabel and Patsy, I'd like to clarify the "minimalist movement" to some extent. I'm totally on board with having less stuff, keeping the house de-cluttered, etc. The ONLY exception to this mindset is PANTRY. I follow a "minimalist" lady on Facebook, and she agrees with this viewpoint as well. Minimalism saves so much money! I have 30-40 items of clothing in my entire wardrobe--how much have I saved by not purchasing more and more? Hundreds of dollars--even if shopping at Goodwill. That is just one example of how my money is freed up for more important things. Minimalism is about freeing us of STUFF so we have the time and energy to focus on PEOPLE and EXPERIENCES. That said, minimalism also has its place--but it's not in the pantry. Hope this helps clarify a more balanced minimalist viewpoint. :)

    4. Yes, Christine pretty much hit the nail on the head, especially for me. I love to read about the Minimalists techniques, tips, thoughts, philosophy, etc., however... I don't do 'minimalism' when it comes to a pantry and being prepared. The Minimalism movement has opened my eyes to useless and pointless consumerism and the cunning advertisement that is behind it. Buying less unnecessary 'stuff' frees up more cash for stocking up on food and other necessities. I have a friend that showed me just the few canned goods in her pantry and commented, "with Walmart so close by, I don't need to have much food on hand." Hmmm...

  3. What a great week Patsy. And as you say, the snowstorm that battered you all there last week, is the very reason why this is so important. I hope there is better weather on the horizon for you. Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Mimi, right now our day time highs are in the 60's and 70's. Today, I was on the porch swinging in my swing. Crazy weather we are having!

  4. I am not a minimalist at all. If anything, I lean slightly on the hoarding side. I'm always afraid that as soon as I get rid of something, I'll suddenly have a need for it. It doesn't help that I work in the museum industry, where hoarding pays off. But that's another story.

    The idea of spring arriving in your area just blows my mind. We won't see spring until April/May. Long ways to go up here is Canada!

    This week I was able to stock up on some sale items for the pantry. Canned pasta were on sale for a $1/tin, so I bought a total of 16 cans. My husband likes these for lunch and I like them for power outages. Snack crackers were also on sale for $1/box (which is once a year, rock bottom pricing here) so I bought 10 boxes. I found discounted bag of bananas for $0.40/lb (they have increased now to $0.69/lb here) and discounted apples for $2/4lb bag. I dehydrated 10 bananas into banana chips and made 2 batches of fruit leather this week as well. Not a bad week for pantry restock!

    1. Rhonda A, not a bad week at all ... you go girl!

  5. In preparation for some busy times ahead (surgery for me, trip to CA for new grandbaby, trip to Houston to visit kids) I have been reorganizing my pantries and making some easy freezer or shelf stable meals. Hubby and I made a "date" on Saturday morning of assembling 10 freezer meals! Of course I needed to rearrange things in the freezer to make room! But I think that my spending some time now to organize will be worth it with the results!
    Tomorrow, I will make up some shelf stable meal "kits" as well as trying some new recipes like DIY cheese from powdered milk! It uses cheddar cheese powder which I discovered in my pantry and want to start making use of while it is still fresh!
    It's an empowering feeling to learn to do new things that will add to our storage or help us make use of what we have! Thanks for all of your creative and practical ideas, Patsy (and all of your followers who post ideas)!!

    1. gardenpat, I always say that the comments to posts are as good as the post! Everyone should read the comments!

  6. I struggle as well....I too have a small house with poorly designed storage areas. Gotta try to keep it from looking like a grocery store in a tornado. lol I'm working through now trying to keep a "deep pantry" as Brenda calls it, rather than storing up for doomsday.

    Did I mention my Grandmother was a hoarder (food especially). Its a struggle.

    I think I have the minimalist books mentioned. Its not realistic. Another blog I read, gdonna I think, went on about needing oil lamps. Of course, we have to have those on the shelf....just in case....and a minimalist would get rid of them because they aren't used enough. (shhhhh don't tell her, buy I just bought a new one)

    Its all about balance.

    (However, I will say that due to those books my clutter has never been more well folded. Apparently I missed that lesson along the way. I don't put things in the drawer according to color grades......that's waaay over the top in my lifetime.)

    1. Yes, 'deep pantry' ... that's a good description of my pantry. I simply do not have the room to be a hoarder.

    2. mdoe37, I read that post about the oil lamps by gdonna and I ran to the basement and grabbed ours, and bought some oil and extra wicks at Wally World. Our lamp (an antique!) was missing the globe, but I found one at the thrift store for 50 cents! Yay! Grandma Donna is very wise and thrifty. Here is a link: www.gdonna.com (I hope that is correct, you ladies will enjoy her.)

  7. I could not stop having a well-stocked pantry either. It keeps us eating very, very well, even during lean times. I do, however, need to bring mine down a bit right now as we are facing a move. It's going to be terribly difficult to move the amount of food I have on hand. I am setting aside any extra money I save to re-stock it after we move. I am feeling good about the older items I am using up.

    I think with everything else, balance is the key, and I try to keep a balance between keeping things I might need, and getting too much stuff! I haven't figured it out perfectly, but try.

    It's great you got such a good deal on mushrooms! They are so great to perk up pizzas and casseroles. It's great that you get to do some of your canning during the winter--it takes the pressure off of you in the summer when so many things are ripe. I love canning, as well.

    1. Moving is not something I enjoy! I hope you have room for your pantry in your new place and you are being wise to eat from your pantry to help reduce the amount to be moved.

  8. I am with you on the staying on the ready. We got a phone call a month ago and made a dash to retrieve our grandson from another state and if our shelves were not stocked then we would have already starved to death by now! He just keep asking where all this food is coming from!

    I have 2 hams in the freezer from after christmas and I need to thaw and can them. Also have some prepared foods I have made ahead in the freezer that I am using up when I can to make room for other things.

    I will never stop prepping!

    1. Kim, I've seen and experienced too much not to have a well-stocked pantry if it is at all possible.

  9. I have a question. Why do you can/vacuum seal dried beans? They won't spoil in the bag. I empty my bags of dried beans into Mason jars, just because I don't like plastic bags of things in my pantry. I would spill them evidently and have a big cleanup job. Just wondering.
    Barbara Galloway

    1. Barbara, it helps to keep them at their maximum nutritional value longer plus any insects eggs, etc that might be in the bean bag or on the beans won't live in an oxygen deprived atmosphere such as a vacuum sealed jar.

  10. Patsy (and others), I agree about keeping the pantry well stocked. While we're working on the house I am doing very little shopping and we are eating from pantry stores. While this illustrates one reason to keep a well-stocked pantry I will confess it makes me anxious to see the supplies dwindle and not have the opportunity to restock. I know I'll be able to get to it when the house is done, but it's unnerving right now. In the meantime I'm trying to stay current with everybody's posts and comments and keep up my lists so I'll be ready to go when the house is done.

    Have a lovely week! Blessings, Leigh

    1. Leigh, so glad you have your pantry to be able to live out of while you work on your house ... yet another blessing of keeping a well-stocked pantry.

  11. Hi Patsy,
    thank you for sharing so many great ideas.. I really enjoy reading/learning from you.
    I have a question... Why do you can your dry pinto beans? I am just curious?? I know you have to use your jars, plus the space to keep the canned jars? Can you not , just keep the dry beans in storage buckets? Right now, I put my dry beans in some jars I have with lids.. Would this be ok? thank you for your help. Judy

    1. Judy, I can dry pinto beans for convenience. I can open a jar and heat and eat all within 10 -15 minutes. It takes much longer to cook a pot of dry beans and they are so delicious home-canned! Sure, you can keep your dry beans in storage buckets or jars. Just watch to make sure no insects can get in the jars or buckets.

    2. Thank you Patsy. I am so dumb, I thought you were just putting the dry beans and sealing them.. Didnt realize you were cooking them..Great idea.. I am going to try this..thank you so much. judy

  12. Patsi,
    You had a very good week with your shopping. Great deals and I know you will use them well! I have often found with people who live a minimalist lifestyle that they are excessive in another area like eating out many meals or have very high entertainment budgets. It will not serve them well later and they would no be prepared for a crisis of any kind where any kind of supplies are needed including job loss! I had a busy week of babysitting, but we still had a pretty good week. My husband sold a 4 wheeler he fixed up and that will be added to what we have and will pay the house payment, I got some store freebies and I don't know if you know this, but some of the stores allow each member of the household to have their own cards so if it's a good freebie I double up that way. I used Bing points for GC's for my son's game, I used other points for a $10 CVS GC because combined with some coupons and a good sale I can turn that $10 into more than $10 worth of stuff. I got a free 4 pack of Red Bull in the mail and 3 free dishcloths that I used points for(that is one of the best rewards they offer the rest kind o stink) I added the $400 to my monthly savings in my savings book because we used no fuel oil at all in Jan. I picked up a few Coke points while babysitting and my neighbor saved me his newspaper so not bad. Our total for the month of Jan. is over $12000.00, a big portion of that was my husband building the beast of a logsplitter from scratch saving us from having to buy one. I hope you have a great week Patsi!

    1. Vicky, I love reading your comments. You think 'you didn't do much' but I read them and glean all kinds of money saving ideas! Yes, I do know that some stores will allow each member of the household to have their own rewards card. My husband and I each have one at several stores. It's how we can double up on some of the good deals we find. A wood splitter huh ... my husband and a friend built one several years ago and it's a beast too, but does a wonderful job!

  13. Excellent deals... wow! Question on the mushrooms: could a person wash, slice, and then freeze them in zip lock bags? I can't can on my glass top stove (unless I want to ruin it).

    1. Sure can Joy, here's a link with instructions ... http://foodpreservation.about.com/od/Freezing/a/How-To-Freeze-Mushrooms.htm

    2. I have a glass top and you can use it to pressure can. Don't slide the cooker off of the heating element. Pick it up to move it to a cooler part of the stove or just let it cool in place.
      Be VERY CAREFUL making jelly. If it boils over on to the top of the stove, it WILL melt the glass and leave pock marks. Use a huge pot and watch it carefully. Don't walk away.

  14. You had a great month with your reduced budget and a lot of determination. Due to some issues with my husband I was thinking of you this weekend and your diabetic journey. I remembered you briefly started a series last year on what you and your husband ate and new recipes you were trying. I wondered if you were planning to add to those informative posts anytime soon. Its encouraging to see what real people who live with health issues on a budget can share with others in their situation. Thanks. --another Vicky

    1. I like that ... another Vicky ... and to answer your question, yes, I do intend to continue this series. I've simply been occupied with other things ... thanks for the reminder!


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