Working Pantry: a pantry stocked with things that are eaten regularly, and is in constant rotation.
I've kept a working pantry for nearly 13 years. I've had a pantry for food, long before there was a pandemic. I see you. Yes you, the one jumping to crazy conclusions. I'm not a prepper who believes in the apocalypse. I'm not hoarding food waiting for the world to end. I'm eating what's on my shelves and replacing it as we eat it. Working pantries rotate stock regularly, as you eat it, as your tastes change, as your location changes.
I'm a person who has lived through blizzards, ice storms, and other inclement weather. I'm a person who has lived through scraping by on one income, more than once. I am a person who had lived through moving to three different stated. I am a person who has also lived outside of town, in small towns with limited options and in towns that freaks the hell out when it snows six inches. Keeping a working pantry has been such an asset in ALL of these scenarios.
Our working pantry when we lived in Missouri, a budget saver and helped us stretch our money from payday to payday. Most of our time there was spent surviving on my bank teller job, with hubby adding to our income as a substitute teacher. This was our first two years of married life and we learned a lot about making our own spice mixes, learning to make bread, cooking with low-cost ingredients and stretching cuts of meat to make more than one meal.
When we moved to Texas, we packed our pantry and moved into a new house. We used a set of cupboards in our laundry room, not pictured is the additional cupboard of canned goods. We were a one-income household for a few months before I got a job. Money was tight when we moved and my pantry kept our grocery bill low, without sacrificing good meals on our limited budget.
Two years later we moved to Alaska. Our first house in Alaska was a rental on post, be nice, the only photos I have are of the day I was unpacking the kitchen. When we moved into this house money became very tight because of what was spent to move here for hubby's new job. It took a while for me to find a steady job, but I made a lot of great meals out of this kitchen with this pantry and again stretched our grocery budget.
Fast forward to today, in our second Alaska house that we bought a few years ago. I have a much larger pantry in this house, but we also have a better income now. That being said we live in a small town with limited variety in the local grocery store and commissary. Our next closest shopping options with variety is 100 miles or 2 hours from us. We shop differently because of things like the snowstorm we're currently experiencing, not to mention the "beer" virus and house quarantine. I'll take everything I learned nearly 13 years ago in our first years of marriage and apply to our current panty, to continue to make amazing meals while we're house hostages.
I share this with all of you know in hopes that someone will find some gem of knowledge and maybe some encouragement start a pantry. There are so many ways to have a pantry, small or large. Think about the dead spaces in your house. You can put a pantry into a spare closest, under your bed, in a hall cabinet. My mom has two four foot cupboards that she got at Walmart and put together; they're in her hallway across from the washer and dryer.
Don't let the idea of starting a pantry scare you. Starting a pantry shouldn't be hard, overwhelming or expensive. We didn't start with what you see in the photos. When we moved to Missouri we started with few things at a time. Take a look at what you eat regularly that is shelf-stable. Now buy two of them the next time you go to the store. I'd also suggest that you think about things that are useable for more than one meal, more about ingredients than boxed stuff that makes one meal. I'll talk more about that in another post.
Do you have a pantry? What's one thing you consider a must-have in your pantry?