Pantry Staples to Stock
When COVID hit, my thought process about food storage changed. Although we had been trying to grow a lot of our food and hunt our own meat - I started to think about the things that I couldn't make. What were the necessities that everything else could be made from? (Besides vegetables, as we have a pretty large vegetable plot)
This was the list that was born and here's how I think though it:
DRINKS: I stock coffee from Costco and Good Earth tea when it goes on sale at Walmart. We mostly drink water.
ACIDS: I make apple cider vinegar from the rinds of our applesauce in the fall, buy white vinegar from Costco (and a lot of it, as we use it to can in the fall and for cleaning), balsamic vinegar from Genesis Kitchen and generic lime juice.
FATS: I stock pile Kerrygold butter when it goes on sale at Costco, as well as their olive oil and coconut oil. Why Kerrygold butter? This book and the research on vitamin K.
NUTS/SEEDS: Most of this is a good deal at Natural Grocers (or Costco). Sometimes I get raisins from Azure Standard.
SWEETNERS: I have found Natural Grocers or Costco to have the best prices here. I try to make sure everything is in it's raw form (nuts without peanut oil, honey and syrup without high fructose corn syrup, and DIY vanilla extract).
LEAVENING AGENTS: Natural Grocers! Look for Non-GMO.
SPICES: Natural Grocers! Then I empty the plastic bags into small mason jars that sit in my kitchen glass cabinet.
MEAT: My husband hunts. For our family of 5, 2 elk and 1 deer takes care of all of our ground meat, roasts, and steaks for the year. I don't buy beef unless we're having company that doesn't like wild game (although it's really mild in Montana). I buy some chicken breasts and pork from Costco. We process our roosters for stew meat.
GRAINS: Flours and rice are a good deal at Costco. I buy a 50 lb bag of oats, a 50 lb bag of wheat berries (for chicken fodder), and 20 lbs of medium cornmeal from Azure Standard - this lasts the whole year.
DAIRY: We love Kalispell Kreamery milk (whole milk), and the rest is from Costco.
SALT: I buy a large tub of pink Himalayan salt which lasts the whole year. When canning salt goes on sale, I stock up.
BEANS: Natural grocers or we save our own!
HERBS: We grow our own or purchase at Natural Grocers. This year, I'm trying a vertical garden on the back deck for herbs. We went with a GreenStalk Vertical Planter, I'm excited for the convenience of fresh greens!
I put most of this in our basement pantry in the black and yellow bins from Costco, labeling them by type of food (baking, flours, beans/seeds/nuts, etc.). As I find sales, I stock the bins and we never run out of an ingredient!
We also have two freezers - one for meat and one for garden vegetables and homemade bread items (hamburger buns, banana bread, etc.). My husband made plywood dividers for the meat freezer, so each type of meat has it's "area". Garden veggies are washed, cut (blanched if needed) and flash frozen (put on a sheet pan to freeze then put in a gallon zip lock bag) so everything is ready to go into a recipe.
Hope this gives you some ideas on food prep and storage!