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Stocking Your Winter Pantry

 When I was alittle girl, I spent alot of time with my Grandparents, I remember trips to pick strawberries and hours spent on the porch shelling peas.  Every summer they had what I thought was the biggest garden in the world.  I would watch as my Grandma would can tomatoes, and peas and beans for the winter.

She would send me down the basement, to get a jar of beans from what seemed like the world's scariest fruit cellar.  This tradition of stock up for the winter continues in my family.  We all have gardens, although none as big as my Grandparents.  None of us can our vegetables, but we freeze our tomatoes, peppers, and sweet corn.  My favorite think to do in the late summer is to make a big batch of vegetable soup to freeze and enjoy in February.

 Because we live in the Midwest, sometimes going to the grocery store can be a major inconvenience.  Think 20 degrees and 4 inches of fresh snow. This is why I like to build up my pantry as winter approaches.  Now I know that some people would call this hoarding, but buying a couple extra cans of chili beans every now and then is not hoarding.  This year, more than ever, it seems like it going to be necessary to have some what of a winter pantry in place.  As a second wave is hitting our state, we are less likely to want to make multiple trips to the grocery store over the course of a week.  It's nice to know that on a Saturday morning that I can make a pot of soup and some bread with what I have in the house.  No need to run to the store.

When we moved into our house, we happy to see that the previous owners had left a set of cabinets in laundry room, and that I have been using for overflow, and it really helpful, expect when I am in the middle of making dinner and I have to run down there really quick.

To get started on building your pantry, the first step is always to take a quick inventory.  This is also a great time to clean out our cupboards and get rid (or donate if they are still before their expiration date).   Think about non food items too like foil, and sandwich bags.

I do not make chili in the Spring or the Summer, so I always pick up beans to add to my pantry.  Do your cooking patterns change with the weather?  Make sure these items are added to the list.

I also pick up evaporated milk, and instant coffee, these will be used in only the most extreme emergency.

I plan for extra staples, item like flour, sugar and butter (the trinity) because I tend to do alot of baking in the winter so I always make sure to have plenty of butter in the freezer and flour and sugar in the pantry.

Going through the freezer is also a good idea.  Again, while you are taking an inventory, clean out, and maybe defrost the freezer getting ready for the winter ahead.  I like to make sure that I have chicken and ground beef which are the base for alot of dinners.

While you are looking into the pantry, it is also a good idea to look at your household products.  Think about toilet paper, toothbrushes, and things like shampoo.

Once you have your list, you can shop for the items during your regular shopping for the next couple of weeks.  I try to wait for items to go on sale.  With items that you are shopping for all the time (ie: cookies) pick an extra one up each time.  Make sure to watch the expiration dates on items.  

I will still be necessary to go to the store for milk, veggies, and things, but having this well stocked pantry will help cut down on the trips, and the length of time that you will need to linger in the store.





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