23 September 2009

From the stockpile to the pantry

You all know by now I love my stockpile. It has helped us save a lot of money over the years but it's also helped me organise myself and it's stopped us wasting time at the supermarket every week. Now we shop monthly, but we could easily go a lot longer than that without shopping.

Most of my stockpile is kept in a cupboard right next to my kitchen. It's convenient and easy to check and clean. My pantry is in the kitchen. When anything is taken from the stockpile and opened, it is either eaten straight away or what remains in the packet, jar or tin is poured into a glass jar and stored in the pantry or the fridge. But I also store packs of rice, lentils, nuts, grains, cereal, flour etc in our chest freezer - that sits in our second bathroom. Again, when we open a pack, it is transferred to the pantry and sits in a glass jar.

Most of the jars I use are canning/preserving jars but I also have a number of jars my chef sons have saved for me from their work places. These used to be large catering packs of pickles/gherkins/olives etc and they hold around two litres/quarts. They're very handy for storing rice, self raising flour or dry pasta noodles, which we use in Alice's food. I also recycle old jam and honey jars and although I used them mostly for the jams I put up, they're also handy for small amounts of beans or lentils.

Every pantry needs a few large containers that will safely hold about 5 kilos (12lb) I have a few icing buckets I got from my local baker and a couple of Decor bins that are currently holding groats and plain white flour. My icing buckets hold a couple of types of bread flours, it's mixed grain and rye at the moment. If you go searching for recycled bins and containers make sure you only use food grade containers. A good rule of thumb is that if a manufacturer originally used it to hold food, it's probably food grade. Most old food containers are safe to use, make sure the lids fit properly and if it has a metal lid, it's not rusty and has no small holes.

If you're in the process of establishing a stockpile it's a good idea to see it as an investment - both of time and money. Like any investment you need to look after it. ALWAYS be on the lookout for pantry moths. They're a small brown moth that can be brought into your home in newly purchased bags of grain, flour or rice. Putting dried good in the freezer for a few days when you first bring them home will kill any lurking eggs or larvae waiting to hatch out. But still be on the lookout for them because they can fly into your home and lay eggs in your uncovered and poorly stored goods.

Make sure everything you open is stored in a container that can be properly sealed. You don't have to have everything matching, I quite like the madness of my pantry with jars of all different shapes and sizes. We have a wonderful topic over at the forum where you can see photos of stockpiles and add photos of your own if you wish.

Your stockpile cupboard and pantry should be emptied and cleaned out at least every six months. When you remove the items, check the contents of jars and make sure everything is in order. Wipe over the shelves and inside walls of the cupboard, wipe dry and replace everything. Some ladies use bay leaves and other herbs to keep bugs at bay but I've always found that if I store my larger packs of dried goods in the freezer or freeze them for a few days they're fine.

If you haven't thought about stockpiling yet, I encourage you to do so. It works well at our home - for just the two of us - and it would be an even greater money and time saver for a larger family. I've written more about stockpiling here, here and here.

And now I'm off to get ready for work. It will be very exciting there today because we have the nutrition students from the local university coming up to talk about eating local and sustainable foods and to show us how to cook frugal meals using local ingredients. :- )



  1. Stockpiling doesn't have to be a huge, scary task. It can be started small. I live in the part of the US known as Tornado Alley and during the spring we have been without power for days at a time because of storms. We also get winter weather, and ice storms can have the same effect. I learned early on that I need to have several days worth of canned food stuck in the closet, along with emergency supplies such as candles, first aid, water, dog food and a change of clothing including shoes. I have slowly added to my stockpile, I usually have flour, sugar, rice, etc., in those large food-safe plastic containers. It's just common sense, and each person can tailor their stockpile to their own needs. If you start small it's not so hard. But I strongly suggest making a list of what you think you need and then keeping an inventory of what's on hand if you think you need to.

  2. I have a stockpile which includes canned food. When we purchase canned food we write the date on the lid with a permanent marker, just the month and the year. This makes it very easy to rotate our stock and use the oldest first.

    The kids love this task and all sorts of odd things end up labeled and dated when they get the marker in their hands.

  3. Hello Rhonda, this is a timely post for me, thank you. I haven't made the move to grocery shopping monthly but I know I could if I planned for it. I love how you give me a prod when it's most needed even though you don't know it!

    When you have a chance, do check out Sydney and region news and pictures online. We have had the most extraordinary red dust from inland -- every leaf of every plant is covered in thick dust. My 82 year old Mum who lived with us cannot remember dust so bad on the coast any time in her life.

  4. Hi Rhonda,

    This was my first month that I planned my menu and my grocery list for an entire month. Yesterday was my day to shop and I came home with my van full. I really don't like grocery shopping, so I kept telling myself that now I will only have to do this once a month! Thanks to your blog I gave this a try. I also got into a conversation with the check-out clerk and we each shared some tips on how to save on groceries!!!

    Angie from Minnesota

  5. Great post Rhonda! We too stockpile and are slowly building it to maintain us for at least 6 months. It does take time to maintain, circulate and build it up but it is so worth it in the end. Like you always say, having a stockpile is having your own personal grocery store!

  6. Having food storage gives so much peace of mind. We have been able to buy a lot of stuff in bulk (wheat, flour, sugar, beans & lentils etc.)which we pack for long term storage. Last year my DH & I made a conscious decision to build up our supply of other items. We set aside a certain amount of money each week & looked through the specials catalogues for food we normally eat.We sacrificed some other things to do this but it was well worth the effort. We now have a good supply of food, almost all bought on 'special' & we repelenish it when it goes on special again. I also can, preserve, freeze everything I can get my hands on from the garden or from other free or cheap sources (fruit etc.) On the Totally Ready blog
    http://blog.totallyready.com/ there is a weekly post about having a general store in your home. Lots of good information.
    Happy storing ....Jeni

  7. Look out Rhonda, the dust is heading your way. Rose, I,m currently on the northside of Brisbane and it arrived here is force about an hour ago. Currently the sky is an eerie yellow. My daughter rang from the Gold Coast and she said it was bad there.

    We have a large stockpile at our house as we live 40 minutes from town and avoid the place as much as possible.

    Cheers (Karen near Bundaberg)

  8. It is so nice to read that others are stockpiling and using pantries. For years people have thought that I was crazy for doing this. It seems crazy to me that others aren't doing this!!


  9. Great post!
    A a child, I learned the importance of stockpiling from my mother.
    We would get blizzards every winter that would snow us in and we often lost power for a few days up to a week.
    A stockpile and a wood stove kept us comfortable!
    Now those blizzard days are some of my favorite childhood memories.

  10. Once upon a time my pantry looked like that now it is a mess!!!!!
    So no more surfing the blogs and my forum visit will ahve to wait I am off to tidy the pantry and make a list!!!

    Thnaks for the reminder


  11. I couldn't live without my stockpile. Money is really tight right now, and so we are able to live off the contents of our freezers and larder and just buy perishables and some tins etc to replace those used. We live a 20 mile round trip from the shops, so it makes sense to have a good storecupboard.

    My husband built me a wonderful set of sturdy larder shelves in an old hallway in the "undercroft" part of our house (it's built on 3 1/2 levels) so it is cool down there, and a good place to store my jams, chutneys and pickles, as well as tinned stuff and home-made wines etc. We had some offcuts of marble and slate for shelving. I wouldn't be without it.

  12. My biggest problem with this is space. I live in a typical English terrace house and I only have a few cupboards in my house, no place for a chest freezer and an unhelpful boyfriend!

    I do have a small stockpile, which I have a list on, but someone keeps taking things from it and not crossing it off the list!

    Oh well, I will continue to try my best with my small space.

    You Americans and Australians dont realise how much space you have!! ;-)

  13. I also have a lot in my cupboards. I'm always prepared. With a big family - for Europe standards - of 6, I must be always prepared.
    Great inspiration for a post.

  14. wonderful post. I also stockpile but I started off small and then rotated as needed and I prefer to shop for the month most times. I too recycle old glass jars and reuse them and I store my flours and other dry grains in the freezer until needed. Thanks for posting this.

  15. I am getting ready to start stockpiling. These posts have started convincing me that I need one. I have located the spot to store the goods, and my next goal is to clean it out and get it ready for the goods. Love this blog!

  16. I have a stockpile in my spare bedroom wardrobe which my lovely hubby fitted out with shelves.We call this our sore stump after the childrens' books 'Brambley Hedge'! As it is needed food is taken downstairs to the kitchen and when stocks are low I bulk buy to replace the items. If I see a good offer on food we usually eat I stock up with that. I don't stock up on things we might like, just because it's cheap, only on tried and tested things.
    This way I only have to buy veggies and fruit once a week. It has saved us serious amounts of cash as I rarely have to 'pop out'for something.

  17. Hi Rhonda..I do so believe in stockpiling..especially in the winter months..i suffer with arthritis that is MUCH worse in the winter months over here in the U.K...as i an often afraid to go out in the snow & ice...i read your blog every morning and love it..BUT i am having such trouble getting onto the forum...i dont know if it is something i am doing wrong (although i have taken part in other forums and use them easily from time to time)....will keep on trying though as its a great idea

  18. Thank you for all your tips on stockpiling. I agree with Otter Mom, "it doesn't have to be a huge, scary task." I know when I am getting low on something I add it to the shopping list, watch the price, & when it goes on sale it is time to buy it and stock up again. Emily, So. Texas

  19. I just wanted to say that it's great you spread the word about stockpiling. We have had times where we really needed to save $ and our stockpile has come in to play. I need to re-stock alot now, but it is so helpful to have things on hand.

  20. I shop once a fortnight, so I guess we sort of have a stockpile, but I find it hard to fit a fortnights worth of food into the trolley! One thing I have found is that freezing my milk saves popping to the shop every few days. Since we go through 12 litres a fortnight, I buy the big 3 litre containers.
    I did have a small stockpile, but I used it when we had a slight hiccup in our finances, I'm now inspired to get it going again.
    Thanks for the tip on pantry moth, I will definitely try this. I hate bringing flour home from the supermarket and finding moths already in it! Apparently the little brown spiders in your cupboard eat the pantry moths, but I haven't got any spiders at present, maybe the geckos ate them!
    Hi to Karen near Bundaberg, I think we know each other (I live in Gladstone)

  21. I would love to have a pantry to hold my food storage. Even if I don't I still manage to find space in the kitchen to store the items. Having a good store of food gives peace of mind and helps with keeping food costs low.

  22. Rhonda Jean or To Anyone: How do you get a vinegar smell out of a glass sauerkraut jar? I got the sauerkraut from Aldi and I love the glass jars and the lids are so cute, I wanted to save them and wash them but I can't get the smell out of them. What to do?


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