The well-stocked pantry
It may or may not be a good time to talk about this, but anytime is a good time to consider a well-stocked pantry.
Before staples was an office supply store, it was a word that meant "a main or important element of something, especially of a diet or a main item of trade or production." A common term before people had options for eating out, shopping online, etc., staples were a part of every kitchen.
My dad tells the story of my brother's birth in 1948. It was December 1, when he drove my mother to the hospital in Bismarck to give birth to their first son. Mom stayed in the hospital for a week, and the bill was about $120. Things have changed a bit since then.
When he brought his wife and child home, they did not leave the farm until April. Imagine that? Were it not for "staples," people would have been in dire straits in those days.
At the end of this article, you will find a list of staples. I'm not recommending you run out and purchase all these things. You have to be a bit sensible about the room you have in your pantry. Yes, it's more than the name of a delivery service from Amazon. Everyone used to have a root cellar and a pantry to store non-perishable items for times such as these.
Think about the things that don't spoil. That's what usually fills your pantry. Without divulging too much about my stash, in case my husband is listening, let me begin.
Some essential staples for baking are flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, shortening, oil, yeast, Karo syrup, honey, maple syrup, baking powder, baking soda, baking spices (ginger, cloves, cardamom, anise, cinnamon, etc.), vanilla and chocolate chips.
None of these items spoil in the amount of time you would use them up; unless you never bake cookies, which I cannot believe.
Staples for cooking are oils, kinds of vinegar, salt, pepper, Penzy spice blends or things like cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, cumin, etc., plus things like oatmeal, rice, dried beans, whole grains for grinding into flour, seeds (sesame, sunflower, flax), dried pasta, etc.
You get the drift. A well-stocked pantry means you could find a recipe online and go to your cupboard and create it. It may not be the same, but there are substitutions for things. And, the more you express creativity in the cupboard, the better you become at winging it when you are cooking supper.
It also pays to stock your refrigerator weekly and your deep freeze monthly. Things to have on hand are bacon, sausage, chicken, ground beef, maybe round steak or roasts. You get the drift. The less processed your staple foods, the simpler it is to combine them.
In the canned area of your house, condensed soups for gravies, tomato paste, canned beans, fruit and veggies. You could also do some canning after you plant a vegetable garden. Freezing is fine, but if the electricity goes out, you won't experience mass spoilage.
Potatoes and onions last a long time in the pantry, just not next to each other. Celery, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables hold up well in the crisper draw of your refrigerator. This past Christmas, my daughter sewed up some produce bags. They work wonderfully. You wet them and place your produce in the bags to keep them humid. It works to make things last longer. Also, if you can purchase products at the farmers market, the shelf life is two to three weeks longer because it didn't take that long to transport to our middle-of-the-country state.
Don't forget the eggs, canned milk, dried milk and cheese. We eat a lot of quiche and baked egg dishes. If you don't have a friendly farmer, you will not have access to fresh dairy.
Below you will find a list of staples to begin supplying your pantry with more than three days-worth of good food for your family. Yes, folks, as my travels with my local foods job, it was a common statement that if the interstate system shut down, food in the grocery stores would last about three days. That includes toilet paper.
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Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.