Simple Living – The Pantry Project Part 1 – 50 Tips on Building a Pantry

This is the first in a short series of posts that specifically concentrate on building/stockpiling a pantry. It’s taken me a little while but i have come up with 50 hints and tips which i hope will be of some help to those wanting to start pantry building. I’m a newbie to all this. As you will see in the next couple of posts to follow, my own Pantry Project began during the Christmas holidays and once i got the idea in to my head to start one, i just ran with it.

There are a variety of reasons why people may want to stockpile non perishable goods and to build up a pantry. Posted below are 50 points that I think go some way to explaining what these reasons are and included are tips on how to start to stockpile a pantry.

  • Stockpiling a pantry saves money; buy goods when they are discounted so you don’t have to pay the full price later.
  • Stockpile in case of emergency.
  • Stockpiling can come to the aid of friends and family in times of financial  difficulty.
  • Stockpile to avoid price hikes for as long as possible. For instance, the price of tea is set to rise by about 20%. It makes sense to buy as much as one can afford now, especially as tea  has quite a long shelf life.
  • Building a pantry provides  a buffer in times of job loss and financial insecurity.
  • Building a stockpile means that you won’t have to rush out to the shop to buy a loaf of bread only to find you come back with bread and about £20 more of  stuff you hadn’t  intended to purchase.
  • Stockpiling non perishable foodstuffs means that you will always at the very least, have a basis for most main meals and  for baking and thus you may only need to do a small shop for milk/fruit/veg each week.
  • When times are especially lean, the focus of your income can be on paying the bills/loan/credit card payments etc and there doesn’t have to be a chunk of money set aside for groceries for a week or two or longer, because hey, you have that covered.
  • Food is something that you will always need to buy, because the body needs food in order to survive, but there is no guarantee for many of us, that our oncome will remain steady and we often need to have some flexibility in our finances to enable us to pay for those curve balls life throws at us from time to time.
  • Stockpiling comes into its own when the weather is very bad or when illness strikes. Knowing you can stay home and look after yourself/your family in such times is s a huge advantage.
  • The Scout boys have it nailed. Be Prepared! It pays off.
  • If you hate shopping for groceries, making one enormous monthly shop will mean you know that you have enough to see you through the four weeks ahead, no matter what happens in your personal situation or to the economy.
  • If you live in a rural area it makes sense to stockpile in case of transportation difficulties, sickness, poor weather conditions etc. Order online and get the delivery driver to do all the hard work. It might cost a few quid extra, but you don’t have to trudge around a busy supermarket, then load up the car and drive home and unload the car and then put it all away. Online shopping means you only have to put the food away!
  • Man made or natural disasters which interrupt food supply ae not a problem when you have a well stocked pantry. This especially beneficial for people who live in regions prone to snowstorms, hurricanes, flooding etc, which prevent safe travel.
  • Some people have a thing for shopping for clothes, shoes, make-up etc…some people spend a lot of money on entertainment on socialising etc, the thrifty person is caring for the needs of the family by taking an interest in stockpiling the pantry. It’s no bad thing.
  • Having a well stocked pantry can give you peace of mind….it means there is one less ‘what if’ question in your mind because you’ll never have to worry where your next meal is coming from.
  • Since you won’t have to shop for food so regularly,  it frees up some money to use when unexpected bills occur.
  • Stockpile for convenience sake. Stocking up on frequently used ingredients means you will not be caught short without an essential ingredient and you will always have the things on hand that you use regularly.
  • When the cupboards are bare it is all too easy to order a pizza delivery or to eat out, this can be expensive. Having a well stocked pantry  means that you can avoid this and thereby save money.
  • When you build up your pantry, if you make a list of all your items you have it is easy to sit down and work out what meals you can make up using ingredients that you have in already. You could make a weekly meal plan or even a monthly meal plan if you had a mind to.
  • It feels good to beat supermarkets at their own game. We all know the many marketing ploys used by supermarkets to encourage us to part with our cash, but storing food means we buy what in a more conscientous manner, making a list for of what we need, and trying to stick to it. Shopping less means we are less likely to fall for supermarket seductions….y’know, those impossible to resist temptations that make us spend more than we originally intended to?
  • If you have the money and the space, you could work on building a  month or even a 3 month stockpile (or even bigger if you prefer). Just work out what you eat on an average week. For instance, if you usually eat 2 tins of baked beans a week and you want to build a 3 month stock pile  simply multiply your two tins per week by 12 and buy 24 tins of baked beans.
  • If you include water in your well stocked pantry it might come in handy when there is emergency work taking place to fix burst water pipes either on the interior or exterior of your home. Also, many ingredients need to be made up or cooked in water, so yep, store some bottle water because it may well come in handy one day.
  • For those wanting to be ultra scouty you could make sure you have a sizeable stock of candles, matches, prescription drugs, over the counter drugs, a first aid kit, water purifying tablets etc in your storecupboard.
  • Although during poor health or poor weather conditions you might be unable to get out to purchase fresh fruit and veg, tinned or frozen fruit and veg is always an option (and is just as fresh if not fresher), as is preparing (blanching) vegetables etc and storing them in your freezer.
  • It saves time to build a pantry. You can do one big grocery shop once every few weeks. Too many of us have got into the habit of setting aside a certain amount of money to buy groceries each week and then going to the supermarket and sticking things in the trolley, maybe without even checking the price. And have you noticed that one of the supermarkets biggest ploys is juggling the price of an item. I can buy a tin of tomatoes for 33p today, in two weeks it may be 45p and in three weeks the supermarket will put it back down to 33p and claim that they have reduced the cost of this and thousands of other items across the store, really they are just creatively juggling the prices of items to make themselves look like they have the most attractive offers.
  • Stockpiling your pantry isn’t just about food. Buy toiletries and cleaning products when they are on offer and buy as many as you can afford at the time. Washing detergent, toilet paper, sanitary products, soap, toothpaste and shampoo are items we all use.. When you see offers on these products it makes sense tp purchase as many as you can afford.
  • Remember, stockpiling food that doesn’t get eaten is not moneysaving. Waste is waste and it is essential to ensure that stockpiled food is rotated on a regular basis to ensure that the products with the earlier best before dates on them get eaten first. Work on the basis of ‘first in, first out’, it’s easier to remember.
  • Always check expiration dates of products when you buy them. Most tinned products for example, have long expiration dates, but don’t become complacent. I have bought canned foods that have needed to be eaten within a month – i didn’t notice in the store, just assumed ‘it’s canned, it will last’.
  • I would strenuously recommend you keep a note of foods stored in your freezer, especially if you have a chest freezer as it is so easy to bung the new bought meat, bread etc on top of the older foods. Though frozen foods have a long storage date, there are some foods which may deteriate in terms of taste and texture, if left in the freezer for too long.
  • If you can afford to, consider spending £5 or £10 per week on store cupboard items. That way, when  you see an offer on produce you usually buy, you will be able to stock up.
  • Shop around! Who says you have to be faithful to one store and one store only? If you have a few supermarkets within easy walking/driving distance, shop around for the best offers. Better still, check out the store offers online and then you won’t have to do the leg work, then you can make up your lists ie: fruit and veg that is on offer from Aldi, canned goods from Tesco etc.
  • Food storage is nothing new, it’s something that our grandparents and parents knew well and were adept at. It is one of many of the Old Ways which have seen a resurgence in recent years but for many of us, it is fast becoming an integral part of caring for the family and the home, and of being thrifty.
  • Look out for loss leaders in the supermarket. These are items sold by the store at a loss, to encourage the consumer into their store.  If you can restrain yourself, go to the store to buy only those items when the offers are too good to miss. Buy them and get out quick though, because the supermarkets want you to pick up lots of other items on your trip. Beat them at their own game and only buy what you went in for, i challenge you!
  • Shop Savvy. Not everything that is on sale is worth buying. If you eat it or use it usually? Fine, but if tinned goosberries are on offer for 15p and you buy 24 tins only to discover that you don’t like them very much after all, that is not savvy shopping.
  • Shop well and you may be able to shop from sale to sale. Say for example you buy 6 months of washing detergent when it is reduced in price. The chances are that you will have enough to see you though to the supermarkets next reductions on washing detergent, when you will stock up again. You might never pay full price on products again!
  • Shop at £1 stores. They sometimes have amazing bargains, but the drawback is that you may have to sift through a lot of junk to find things you want.
  • Stockpiling is good for the environmentally conscious, less fuel is used due to the reduced number of visits to the supermarket.
  • Cooking from scratch from basic food items helps us to get back to using the skills of cooking  food …because let’s face it…nuking pre-packaged food in a microwave or 3 minutes until a buzzer goes off just doesn’t constitute ‘cooking’.
  • Never stockpile for fussy eaters. Only buy tried and tested produce. If your fussy family member likes canned rice pudding this week, but is generally known for being quite fickle, don’t purchase 20 cans of canned rice pudding when it is half price, unless you like it too. This goes for any food items, of course.
  • Keep an eye on weekly sale advertisements and use vouchers and coupons whenever you can, this will enable you to make the most of your money and therefore free up more cash to make extra stockpiling purchases. Similarly, take advantage of BOGOF’s etc.
  • Pantry stockpiling isn’t about  being survivalists who think the end of the world is nigh. This is a wonderful way of living  ‘from days of old’ and like most things done by previous generations, it darn well makes sense. Some people have hobbies which require a certain outlay in order for them to sustain said hobby, to the homemaker/cook, the pantry is a bit like an artists pallete. A bit of this and a bit of that in varying measure will come together to create a masterpiece. Well at least that is the plan 😉
  • Shop in Asian foodstores or markets to get the best prices on herbs and spices, rice, pasta etc. Usually they sell larger bags or cans, for the same amountof money, or even less than you would pay for a smaller size of that product in your regular supermarket.
  • You can freeze butter, cream, milk and apparantly you can even freeze eggs (though i haven’t tried that myself) when they are on offer. That way you won’t have to pop to the shop for a pint of milk and spend a tenner while you are there!
  • If you know how to do so,  make your own chutneys, jams and preserves. By making them seasonally (when the fruit is in plentiful supply, ie, Seville orange marmalade in Jan/Feb) the cost stays low. Where possible pick your own fruit and either preserve it in this way or freeze bag fulls of it.
  • Pantry’s don’t have to be big. They can be as small as a couple of shelves on the wall or an empty cupboard or a portion of your wardrobe. Use the space beneath your beds if you don’t have divans. You can by underbed pull out draws fairly cheaply.
  • The pantry’s of our grandparent’s generation probably wouldn’t have been filled with sachets of microwave popcorn and packets of Doritos, they would have been filled with basic store cupboard ingredients. But you are not your grandparents, you have access to a variety of snacks and foodstuffs with any number of e numbers in them. If you like them and you usually eat them, then store them!  This is about you. Yes, by all means have a go at making your own jam or churning your own butter in the process of incorporating some old ways into your days, but don’t swing so far the frugal way that you forget that this is supposed to be fun. Doritos do it for me, especially cheesy nacho Doritos. Yum.
  • A really simple way of starting off building a pantry is to just by 2 of something that you would normally just by one of. Put the extra item in the place you will use as your pantry and try to forget about it. You don’t do this with every item on your grocery list of course, because you would be doubling your grocery bill…but you could be selective and just by an extra couple of things, especially if they are on offer and you usually purchase them. Baby steps is how it begins, but before you know it you will be stockpiling your pantry in leaps and bounds!
  • If you have a Costco or Makro store within easy enough reach, consider buying produce in bulk. Although you do have the inital extra outlay, it is far less expensive in the long run, to shop this way. i don’t have access to these, but wish i did! Make good use of them if you are able to do so!

Well, that’s about it for post number one of the Pantry Project, i’ll soon be putting post two up, which will include photos of my pantry project!

I hope that at least some of you will beneft from these posts, and who knows, if you don’t have a pantry already, perhaps it will encourage you to start building one? No bricks and mortar required.


This entry was posted in Faith Matters, Frugality, Home & Family, Inspiration, Just for fun, Simply Living, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Simple Living – The Pantry Project Part 1 – 50 Tips on Building a Pantry

  1. Cathy says:

    What a worthwhile list of suggestions! Thank you!!!

  2. Moni says:

    Oh, I loved reading through your suggestions as now that I am living at home again I am rebuilding my pantry.
    If you don’t mind, I have a few additional tips:
    Buy products you will actually use. Lots of people buy things because it is on special, but never actually use the product….
    If you are scared you’ll pop to the corner shop ust to buy a pint of milk, keep some UHT milk in your pantry. They used to taste yuckie, I know, but they really have improved and especially in your coffee, tea or cooking you will not notice.
    And if you really HAVE to pop out to the corner shop, just take some change with you enough for that purchase rather than your whole purse.
    Most imporatant though I find is the planning. Plan what you are cooking, so know what you need to buy, and just make that last till you go shopping again.
    Living alone I find makes it more difficult to live frugally, but I really have to now, and as long as I plan my meals, shop for them, freeze half of what I cook AND remember to take out my dinner before I go to work so it can defrost, it should work.

    Good luck with your journey to simplicity!

  3. Kelly says:

    All excellent ideas! You have given me much to think about. Thanks so much. 🙂

  4. ukok says:

    Moni, i’m so glad you like this tip list. If it’s okay with you i will include your tips in another list i am going to compile also.

    Brilliant tips, if you think of any more, come back and leave them here and i will include them in the next post too!

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