Stocking a pantry is a quick and affordable way to insure you have food in the distant future. We are currently seeing store shelves restocked with items that disappeared for a while. This can give people a sense of security in thinking that things are back to normal when in reality we are looking at a possible repeat of a shutdown in the fall. Keep in mind that factories and processing centers have been closed for several weeks, and commodities such as cattle and crops have been destroyed with nowhere to take them for sale, it is not far reached to consider that the next time a shutdown happens there will be less on the shelves than last time. In the coming weeks and months, it would be wise to buy a few extra items here and there to slowly build a pantry if you are on a budget.
When building a pantry stay away from perishable foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables that will go bad in a short period of time. In the fall it is possible to store long lasting items such as winter squash, root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and onions; however, this involves having some type of winter storage system such as a root cellar of which there are several different variations available to make or build. I have a friend who buys fruit in bulk when it is in season and at its cheapest price, then puts it in the freezer in the basement. When he needs room, he will can those items by making a jam or preserve that last longer on the shelf than the item would in the freezer.
The three types of food to look for to add to a pantry involve canned goods, dry goods, and freeze dried. Freeze dried is the most expensive and while it has a long shelf life of 25-30 years it is expensive. Canned goods will last for years and currently in my area there is no longer a limit as to how many cans you can buy at one time. Beans and canned meat were some of the first to disappear from the shelves so it is safe to say those might be the first to disappear the next time around. When the toilet paper starts to disappear from the stores be sure to grab the items you can eat instead. Try to stay one step ahead of the crowd when it comes to buying supplies.
Some items you might want to consider picking up that never as in short supply include Whey protein powder. This is a body building supplement that has a shelf life of a few years and makes sure you have complete proteins in your system while meat is disappearing from the stores due to a shortage. A large bottle of multivitamins isn’t a bad idea to have around if your diet is compromised and you find yourself on a limited diet without fresh fruit and vegetables.
Yeast and flour were a surprise to everyone when it was in short supply. With bread flying off the shelves those who knew how to bake bread invested in bags of flour and yeast packets to bake their own bread at home. Stored correctly flour can be stored for ten years. Yeast isn’t as easy to store and dies off after a year but there is a way to use bacteria in the air to ferment wet dough and make a sour dough bread.
Most importantly buy items that you will eat and enjoy eating. There is no point in buying cans of Spam because you noticed other people doing it. If you want to stay happy and positive during another Shutdown make sure you have food in the house that you enjoy. If that means having boxes of Doritos lining your walls by all means to that. It is better that you want to eat than dread having another bowl of lentil soup while wondering what the heck a lentil is.
If this is your first time creating a pantry take your time, buy items you enjoy and rotate your stock. Make sure items that are going to expire soon are not kept in the back of the shelf. Use what you have over time while constantly replenishing your supply. Before you know it, you can have a few weeks if not a few months’ worth of food.
Fishing was an item I forgot about in my last post about food. When I was a kid, I had a neighbor who went fishing almost every day from spring until fall. He would come home when he caught his limit and spent an hour filleting his fish and storing them in a freezer. During the winter months his family would live off the fish having cost them nothing expect for a fishing license. I know that most people don’t have the time to fish all day and the man I am talking about was on disability from a motorcycle accident. Even if you were to go fishing over the weekend and caught your limit, in Michigan its 25 bluegill a day, plus whatever other species you caught, that adds up over time. If you don’t own a freezer you can also smoke the fillets to preserve the meat. If you already own a fishing pole the rest of the material is cheap to find to start bringing home some food. The most expensive investment is time and if you don’t enjoy fishing then it will be more expensive for you. Honestly, you’re better off finding another hobby and source of food.
With each state being different, check with your local DNR to find out what is legal to catch and when, the fishing methods that can be used, and get your license before heading out to the water. It is better to ask too many questions than be caught doing something that is illegal and put you into serious trouble. Most of the time fishing is easy but do some research first to make sure you are keeping everything legal.