Monday, July 23, 2012

Makeover Monday - How to Stock a Healthy Pantry

If you're pantry is full of junk and processed foods it might be time for a makeover (:  Keeping a well stocked natural pantry is a blessing when unexpected company arrives, but it can also provide the necessary nutrition if an emergency hits. This emergency could be a power outage, illness or even a job loss. The simple act of keeping the cupboards stocked with healthy staples means your household will be taken care of even during times of stress.

My Grandmother was a preparer and had it down to a skillful science. She always had extra items on hand to share with loved ones or those in need. We never left her home without a bag of groceries or extra helpings from our dinners together. As the years pass by, I'm appreciating Grandmother's knack for planning ahead more and more.

Recently terms like preparedness and stockpiling have been bandied about. I think when most people hear the term stockpiling they either think of some seclusionist in the hills getting ready for the end of the world or the extreme couponing show where "savvy" shoppers proudly show off their tons of toiletries, noodles and canned goods.

I was introduced to the stockpiling concept over 20 years ago by my best friend in high school. Self reliance was very important to her family and so they maintained a year's worth of food to assure their viability during troubled times. I thought it a little strange that the guest room had been converted into a pantry, but I now grasp the enormous benefits of such an undertaking. We may not have a stockpile room dedicated to a year's worth of food, but we're working our way there (:

With the changing economy and a focus on self-sufficiency, the drive to create a long term source of staples is ever-present. Homesteading is all about self-sufficiency and our goal is to have a spot of land with fruit and nut trees, gardens, chickens and goats, but our current location is a temporary one. We aren't sure how long we'll be here, therefore growing our own food has been put on hold. So what does a homesteader at heart to do when she's stuck in the city without a garden? She grows a healthy pantry (:

I wrote a recent post about giving our budget a makeover by using coupons. Today I'd like to show you how to makeover your pantry by including healthy basics that can be used to create an abundance of nutritious meals. If it's processed, it doesn't make the cut. I find that a product with an ingredient list of words I can't pronounce, much less spell, has no business being in the ol' tummy (:

Focus on whole foods, buy organic when possible (if you don't have a garden or go to the farmer's market), go crazy with a dehydrator and learn the art of canning/fermenting foods. If canning and dehydrating aren't in the cards for you, that's okay...there are lots of great options on the grocery store shelves for those who don't.

We stick with whole grains, gluten-free flours and meals, keep refined sugars out and make all of our dressings and sauces. Below is a list of our pantry staples and ones we enjoy on a regular basis...

Grains - brown rice, millet, quinoa (millet and quinoa are actually seeds not grains, but we use them in place of other grains)

Ground Meals & Flours - cornmeal, flaxseed meal, coconut flour, almond flour

Baking Goods - baking soda, cornstarch, arrowroot, cream of tartar, cocoa powder

Oils, Vinegars & Condiments - extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, fermented ketchup, spicy mustard, raw apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar

Root Veggies - Red potatoes, gold/white potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic, ginger (we always peel and freeze our garlic and ginger for extra long storage life)

Dried Fruit - goji berries, elderberries, prunes, dates, figs, raisins, blueberries, cranberries, banana chips, apples, apricots, cherries, sun dried tomatoes

Nuts & Seeds - almonds, walnuts, pecans, flaxseeds, millet, quinoa, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds

Canned Goods - crushed and diced tomatoes, tomato paste, canned pumpkin, beef and chicken broth (we make our own and store it in the freezer, but there are some great organic boxed options), coconut milk (we prefer to make our own, but the canned milk makes great whipped topping in a pinch), almond butter, beans (canned or dried), black and green olives, sauerkraut, pickles, pepperoncinis, roasted red peppers, tuna, wild salmon. 

**We're learning so much about the importance of relying on fermented foods instead of traditional canned goods, but still have a bit more studying in this area...we'll talk more about that in another post**

Natural Sweeteners - raw honey, pure maple syrup, rapadura/sucanat, stevia

Teas - black, green, red, hibiscus, mint

Misc - popcorn, raw cacao nibs, coconut flakes, jerky, vanilla, vanilla beans, brown rice pasta, Nori seaweed sheets

Herbs and Spices - allspice (whole and ground), bay leaves, basil, caraway seeds, cayenne pepper, celtic sea salt/kosher salt, cinnamon sticks, chili powder, chipotle, cilantro, cloves, coriander, crushed red pepper, cumin, dill, dry mustard, dried shallots, fennel seeds, garlic powder, marjoram, nutmeg, onion powder, oregano, paprika, pepper, peppermint, poppyseeds, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Storing all of these goodies can be a fun process too (: I like to put things like grains, meals, beans, teas, jerky, dried fruit, nuts (we store the bulk of the nuts in the freezer for longer storage life) and pastas in glass jars. Spices are stored in our magnetic spice tins, root veggies are always perched in baskets for air flow (have you ever smelled a rotten potato left in a plastic bag? Yikes!!) and we love to repurpose glass jars and bottles after peppers, pickles, vinegars and oils have been used. Slap a chalkboard label on and it turns into something special (:

If you'd like to overhaul your pantry with a makeover, start small. You may currently have a lot of junk on your shelves, but don't feel like everything needs to be thrown out at once. Use what you have, replace it with a healthy option and then stock up when the sales are rock bottom. Before you know it you're pantry will become a healthy stockpile that will feed your family for months to come. Still need more help? "Urban Pantry - Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen" by Amy Pennington is a great place to start.

With Gratitude,


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7 comments:

  1. Loved your pics of your healthy storage. We are beginning to do this as well.....on another note Thank you for following me in the past. I am back with a new boutique and adventures. Will be posting a code for discount in my shop and wanted to make sure that all of my previous followers received the message to check this week for code.

    Thank you so much and it is great to be back doing what I love, and hopefully you will too!

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  2. Wow! Nice ideas. I think I would need some recipes to go with some of that stuff. My potatoes get all weird on me even in ventilated areas. Thanks for coming to my blog.

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  3. I'm afraid if you saw my pantry you'd think no one lives here, and my refrigerator is usually half empty. Often my daughter jokes that she can't tell I just went grocery shopping! Your post gives some great tips!
    Thanks for stopping by and I'm happy to follow you back.
    Mary Alice

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  4. Michele!
    Thank you for stopping by and following! I am pleased to meet you! I can't believe that I have not stumbled upon your blog before this visit! It's amazing! I am following and I have added you to my blog roll!
    ~Lynne
    w/L.

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  5. Michele,
    So glad you found me so I could find you! Have enjoyed browsing thru, you are one handy girl! You have built and transformed some amazing things!
    Thanks for the sweet comment, I'm your newest follower also and will be back!
    Rebecca

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  6. I love this post! We live in the country and I have been working towards becoming more self-sustaining! Right now it's easy because it's summer....but I need to learn how to can :)

    blessings,
    karianne

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  7. This is a wonderful post and great tips/list of things to stock up on to have a healthy pantry indeed! Love raw honey and syrups. Nuts and seeds a must! I couldn't agree more with everything you listed to include! Please come hang out and link up to our link party "Home is Where the Heart is" Please feel free to link up any posts you might want to share! :)
    http://www.homesteadsimple.com/home-is-where-the-heart-is-link-it-up-wednesdays-3/

    ReplyDelete

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