Looks good, doesn’t it?

I  mean , yes the beans could be cooked,
and who eats peanut butter out of a jar with a spoon after all *ahem*,
but looks like a nice nutritious meal for the hungry clamoring kids,
and adults in your family right?
Today’s post is about the top five mistakes people make when starting a pantry, and buying food ahead to add to their storage.
   I had a rough slew of teen years. My dad left when I was 13, abandoning my mother with three children, no job, and having just moved to a new town where we knew no one at all. To be honest it is mostly a blur in my mind, but there are a few things that really stick out.
   One of the ones that did was the jars of odd things that we would get at the food shelf, which would sit on our shelf in the cupboard, staring at us, almost daring us to eat it.
   I mean, we were poor, desperate, and who in those circumstances is going to refuse to take something for free from the food shelf, no matter whether it was something recognizable or not?
   I often wondered as a teen who actually bought that stuff. I mean, come on. I cant remember everything that stood out at the time, but I know I got both my first taste of pickled asparagus spears, and hominy from the food shelf.
   And now, now that I am grown, with a family of my own, I finally understand where that stuff comes from. I mean… I know who buys it now.
   People like me.
    People, who, in the first flush of sincere earnestness rush out and hit the stores, tackling the sales and thrilled to roll the cart through the line, escape with their plunder, line their shelves with the bounty, turn out the light with their satisfied little hearts thrilling…and then three years later realize that SOMEONE SOMEWHERE will eat that can of stuff, even if you never will.
   Sound familiar to any of you?
   I am shamelessly bearing my heart here and saying, quietly: that was me.
   If that is one of the reasons you have shied away from building a good solid food storage for your home and family..from either being on the receiving end of that , or the giving end, then this post is for you.
    It is all about how to avoid eating beans and peanut butter for dinner, every single night, because you got a little too gung-ho on the sales, and didnt plan ahead.
   Let’s get started.
   In all honesty, building up a solid food pantry of delicious stuff that you and your family will enjoy is not really that difficult. It takes time, planning, and resistance to the impulse buying that many of us already deal with each time we grocery shop. Listen, I am married to a marketing/retail man, and I KNOW all the tricks they use to get you in the store, in a certain aisle, purchasing a certain product, but seriously, I STILL fall for it. I have my 3 jars of pickled asparagus in the cupboard, and praise God every time I remember to crack one open……….
   The number ONE mistake people make when building up a food pantry is IMPULSE. Seriously people, just because you HAVE six coupons for a single food items, does not mean you should use them. If you do use that particular item, then by all means please please please get as much as you can and will use over the next year for your family. But if you happen to be in the grocery store, and they are having a sale on canned beans….unless you have a plan and a couple recipes, do NOT purchase more than you can reasonably eat in a season. I’m serious. How many cans of kidney beans will your family go through in a winter eating chili every week or so? Then that is what you buy. You resist the temptation to look at everything in quantity, and instead try to look at everything in quality. The easiest way to do that is to consider if it is something that your family eats regularly…something you are putting into your cart regularly. If so, then it is something worth stocking up on, and getting what you can afford of that certain item.
   The second mistake most people make when starting a pantry is not having a starting point. They have no idea what meals they eat on a regular basis and therefore have no starting point to begin from. That is why I counsel so many people when they are getting started on this whole process to sit down and make out a meal plan. Decide what your top ten favorite meals are, and what ingredients go into them. That list would be a fantastic place to start when building up your pantry. For some people it is even easier to just buy a couple extra of certain items each time they go grocery shopping, until they have built up a good surplus of meal fixings for their families. I fear time is short for that kind of an approach, especially if you are starting from scratch, but if it is what you can do and what you can afford, then tackle that head on and use that way of starting your pantry.
   The third most common mistake is not planning ahead. This is especially true when it comes to planning for space requirements of starting a pantry. I cant tell you how many people I have talked to over the years that have told me about losing food they had purchased because it was stored improperly, or damaged, because they did not properly consider and set up a place for their food storage. Shelves will fall, basements will flood, and dented cans will all rot if you are not careful and treat that pantry supply like it is worth its weight in gold (which is just might be in the not-too-distant future). SO consider what space you have, where you will place it, and then, once that is in place, step out into the planning phase of what you will be purchasing.
   The fourth most common mistake most people have is not rotating their stock of food storage. Listen folks,  you are not buying this food to sit on it, make tables out of it, or use it for propping open your doors. You are doing it to lessen your food bills, have a small sense of security, and take advantage of sales. Whatever went in first goes to the front, and the new stuff goes to the back. Keep a list nearby (mine is on a clipboard hanging from a nail on my shelves), of what you use when you take it out, and when it comes time for grocery shopping, pull that list off and add it right back in to your grocery budget for that period of time. Food is perishable, even if it is something that is properly canned and cared for. Around here we all hear the horror stories of someone being told they can have the free jars from granny’s basement………if we are willing to dump out the pickles that are still in them from 1969. Food is meant to be eaten, so dont let your hard earned money go to waste by keeping it on the shelf past the time it should have been rotated into your meals.
    The fifth and final mistake most people make when starting on this journey is asking everyone’s opinion on whether they should or shouldn’t get started, how they should go about it, and whether it is prudent, or crazy. Seriously. You would not believe how many times people approach me, we get started on this conversation, and then they get THE LOOK. It almost always comes around the time when I ask them what they are planning on doing, or how they will be getting started. It takes about 15 seconds, and then they tell me a story about someone, somewhere that they were in conversation with asked WHY they were doing it, and WHAT WAS WRONG WITH USING THE GROCERY STORE.
   Somehow, in this country, we have become a dependent people who do NOT like others not to be a part of the pack. We are shamefully shallow and narrow minded when it comes to people doing things different than the way that we do them. A few generations ago, having a strong food pantry made sense, because the people of that time knew anything can happen at any time, and they were proud of the skills that had been passed down from generation to generation. They had seen war, and rationing, and men struggling to feed their families. I cant imagine what they would think of us today, honestly.
    But I do know something. They would not have cared what other people thought about what they were doing for their families. That was simply no one else’s business. If you didn’t agree, you kept it politely to yourself, and drank your coffee. It made sense to take care of your family as much as you were able, and most people would never have dreamed of sitting on their duffs, plugged in to social media while waiting for someone to drop in and hand them their next meal. They believed in hard work, and just rewards for that hard work.
   So before you go asking Uncle Joe whether you should or shouldn’t start a food pantry, sit down by yourself and ask yourself what YOU really think. Ask your spouse. Pray about it.
Many Blessings to you and yours