Taking the Pantry to the Next Level

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Last month I did a few posts on some of the methods we use for tightening our financial belt as far as food costs are concerned.   We are smack in the middle of several months of belt tightening. The reason for this is we have a new debt that we are paying.  And that debt is called food storage.

I have written many posts on how important it is to us to have a well stocked pantry. I’ve even written a couple of post directly relating to food storage and how it is important to us.  Until recently our pantry stocking/food storage has been a part of our regular food purchases.  In 2011 our average food budget was $659 per month (for our family of 5) which included any bulk purchases for our pantry.  A few months ago we decided that we needed to rethink things.

The last couple of years we’ve used late summer and fall to stock up a little extra food. Mainly because of the way we do our Azure Standard orders.  We have a 2 hour drive (one way) to pick up those orders and sometimes our weather is rather bad.  So we don’t do Azure orders in the winter.  Buying  extra of things we use to carry us through those few months wasn’t a big deal. Figuring out exactly how much to buy was a little more challenging and some items I guessed wrong and we ran out. Other things we had plenty.  This year we fully intended on doing the exact same thing– stocking our pantry well to get through winter and a little longer.

But the more Joe and I talked about it, the more we felt like that this was no longer the best choice for us. We thought we needed to take our pantry stocking another step. So… we have now officially ‘crossed over’ from simple pantry stocking to food storage.  What’s the difference you ask? About 6 dozen 5 gallon buckets. 🙂

Instead of  continuing on our path of taking some of our food money and putting it toward pantry stocking we decided we needed to make a few drastic changes to our budget and get this food storage done.  Since we were already planning on some stocking up for winter we had been money some money aside for that and we had thought we might dip into our savings.  Using the money put aside and restructuring our budget has worked well so far.  We did dip into our savings by $25 last month but that is not too bad.  As a result, our regular food budget has been cut.  I know that might sound confusing since we are buying food but in my mind it works.  Currently, our “regular” food budget is for perishables like produce (we do not have a produce CSA or farmers market here at this time of year) and our cow share (3 and 1/2 shares which is 3 1/2 gallons of milk each week) plus our monthly beef CSA.  Plus we were starting with a well stocked pantry and full freezer after chicken processing and hunting season.

After restructuring our budget we came up with a dollar amount to put toward the food storage. We are treating this just like a debt obligation.  We are not using credit to buy these things (I think going into actual debt for food would not be very smart). We are purchasing things that fit into our real food diet.  Some things, like produce, are processed at home to be put into long term storage. My husband says the food dehydrator has been running every day for 6 weeks!

Since I’ve often talked about having a well stocked pantry you might be wondering exactly what we are doing different with food storage. I plan to do a few additional posts and give you some of the nitty-gritty of how we are doing food storage with our real food eating. In case you can’t wait to get started on YOUR food storage (or just build a better stocked pantry) check out the links below.

Previous posts done by me;
Real Food and Food Storage
8 Ways to Increase Your Food Storage- Real Food Style
7 More Ways to Increase Your Food Storage- Real Food Style

Food storage posts and information from others;
A Year’s Supply of Food-Traditional Food Prepping— be sure to listen to the podcast linked in this post.
Prepping 101 Podcast– this is one of an entire series of podcasts by Cooking TF. This is a great one to start with.
This is a great post that outlines what a family of 4 might need to start building a 90 day food storage.

Do you think food storage is important? Would you like to learn more about how to have food storage and keep it consistent with real food?

PS- I’ve hesitated to share our food storage intentions on here. One reason is that having a well stocked pantry seems acceptable but crossing over to food storage puts a person in a different category. But with the way things are concerning natural disasters, the economy and assorted other things this is an important subject.  And my hope is you will benefit from it and not just think that I need to tighten my tin-foil hat -which I don’t actually wear since I’m concerned about the aluminim leaking into my brain. 😉

Photos: Money Roll, A few of our food buckets ‘in process’

Millie Copper
Millie Copper is a Wyoming wife and mama. After reading Nourishing Traditions in early 2009, her family began transforming their diet to whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods—a little at a time while stretching their food dollars. Millie is passionate to share how, with a little creativity, anyone can transition to a real foods diet without overwhelming their food budget. Millie began blogging in late 2009 and has amassed a collection of frugal recipes and methods. Her specialties include cooking with wild game and creating “Stretchy Beans”. Discovering a love of writing, she has penned four books focusing on healthy eating on a budget and is trying her hand at fiction writing. Learn more at MillieCopper.com.


  1. sherri burkett

    I think food storage makes a lot of sense, but I am afraid to buy all that stuff and have it spoil. That is what would happen to me. Then I would feel like I lost all that food and money because of greed.

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      Hi Sherri,

      I used to be afraid of spoilage also. I plan to address in detail what our plans for that. I believe if you only store the foods you eat and actually eat from your stores alot of that worry is eliminated. For us, food storage isn’t a bunch of stuff we buy and hide away for a future time.

      I have to say, I’ve never actually thought of food storage as a form of greed. I hear stories like KerryAnn of Cooking TF’s story and it really makes me think food storage is smart. KerryAnn’s husband was out of work for an extended amount of time. They were able to eat from their food stores (stocking foods suitable for their dietary needs) and avoid food stamps and food banks. That’s what we want; to be able to know that we wouldn’t have to worry about food if we were ever in a similar situation.

  2. Hannah

    I’m looking forward to learning more tips on food storage. We’ve lived on less than $20,000 a year for several years and I always keep a stocked pantry. One year I neglected the pantry and really regretted it because we had almost zero income all winter long. I won’t be making that mistake again. We have a respectable amount of storage for our small family but we also are beginning to take it to the next level. I almost died when I saw the total of my last Azure order, but it was worth it! Now the whole house is getting shuffled around to make room for buckets and root veggies. 🙂

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      Hi Hannah!

      Yeah my Azure order last month was scary big. And it took some considerable doing to get it all home! We had planned on last month being our last order but it worked out that we are going to do one more. Hopefully the weather will be good for our pickup. I’m not the driver this month which is good.
      What are you doing with your root veggies? Do you have a cellar?

  3. Jill

    To Sherri’s comment… I’m unsure why you’d feel it’s an act of greed. I’ve stored food for years. When we have the opportunity, we donate generously from our pantry to our church, and to other organizations who do food drives. The ability to be generous with your pantry is a blessing. What is greedy is having to beg off of family or not preparing and then having to rely on the Taxpayer for your needs.

    You can prevent waste by stocking up on foods your house enjoys. The key is to rotate it – eat it regularly and replace it with new stock. I think a common misconception is the “food storage” is just supposed to be a lot of beans and rice. Visit my pantry and you’ll find a wide selection of canned garden harvest, ready to eat soups, cold cereals, a bevy of crackers, pie fillings, various red and white sauces, goodies for baking like coconut and chocolte/butterscotch/white baking chips, snack foods, flavored coffees & teas, pastas and much more. All are foods we eat regularly, nothing is junk food – and all would provide us enjoyablem, nutritious meals when money is low and especially in a time of crisis. Good luck!

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  4. Karen

    I have a well enough stocked pantry that my daughter’s friends say I am ready for the zombie apocolypse. I am sure it looks like that to them, but it is no more than what my parents and grandparents did. Most food was available/harvested on pretty much an annual basis, so if you wanted that food six or ten months later you had to find a way to store it until then. So I can enough green beans in summer to last until next year’s crop. In fall I buy bags of sale priced dry beans, cook them in batches and can them when my last year’s supply gets low. I freeze fruits and berries when it is hot, make and can jam when it gets cold. I never buy things specifically to store, but I do buy lots of any well priced item we do use regularly and store it for future use. A local store was clearing out bottles of maple syrup at nearly $9 less per bottle. I got a year’s supply. When another store had mushrooms marked down by 50% I bought two big bags of them and dehydrated most, canned a few. When I want mushrooms, I have a choice, right here, right now. I spent half of what the store wants for them today, and I can get them in my jammies.

    I don’t really consider this to be emergency planning, but with seasonal income it just makes sense. Now I only have to buy when something is exceptionally well priced, and then I buy lots. I just don’t run out of anything when prices are highest. I have enough stored to start watching for lowest prices instead.

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      Hi Karen,

      It sounds like you have a great system. You got a terrific deal on that syrup! I dehydrated mushrooms last year. I loved having them available when they were needed. I agree, it does make sense.

  5. Debbie

    We have been working on our food storage for years. When we first started we started out small and added extra items to our pantry when items were on sale. We put together a 72 hour kit for each person in the family, and then we started on some of the basic supplies like wheat, rice, and beans. We have since added items that we regularly eat, barrels of water, water filters, chopped wood, coal, bottles of propane etc. It seems like when you reach one level of preparedness you can jump to the next level. It gives me peace of mind knowing that I have tried to prepare in case there is an emergency.

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