When I first started out on the homesteading journey, I came with a history of burned cookies and forgetting to put flour in my brownies. We did have tons of prepared food in our pantry. Ah, yes, things have changed!
While I sometimes forget cookies in the oven, I have come a long way in my kitchen skills. Since those days when no one depended on me except for a quick box of macaroni and cheese with hot dogs and canned green beans, I have learned to actually cook! I bake my own breads, my own homestyle macaroni and cheese, fresh vegetables, and skillet and crockpot meals. I keep a pantry (and freezer) full of food, ready for any emergency or a quick meal at the end of a busy day.
No, we don’t have potato chips or other pre-packaged food snack items (gasp!), but honestly, I make sure I always have homemade cookies in the refrigerator for a snack, nut butter in the pantry, or at least a cold biscuit. Trust me, no one ever goes without.
Plus, I have learned to stay on a budget.
Healthy Food in Our Pantry
Dried beans of any variety are great sources for thickening soups, and adding protein, particularly in the winter. I buy large quantities of bulk beans, which can be soaked for three days if you need help in digesting them. Or, if you run out of chicken feed and need something to give them.
Dried pasta, in large bulk quantities, is a great source of protein and fiber. I buy super large bags and use them with any dish I can. Pasta is quick and easy to make and something a good slab of butter can make even better.
Brown rice is a perfect grain for gluten-free families. White rice can be too starchy, however, the brown rice digests better, and still keeps fiber in your diet. It goes with just about any dish you make, including casseroles and skillet suppers.
Whether you can them yourself, or buy them, tomatoes are a must have for everything like spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, and soups.
You might think this is a luxury, but it isn’t if you want a gluten-free way to thicken up tomato dishes, like spaghetti and sloppy joes. You can also make your own ketchup from tomato paste, much better than you can from tomato sauce.
The price of good quality flour is cheaper in large bags, which you can put into put into 5-gallon food-grade buckets with lids. You can purchase the buckets on Amazon (like these) for much less money than the feed store. We live in a warm climate, so I like a tightly sealed container to keep all of my flours in.
Raw honey is one of those things you just can’t do without. I use it to help my son digest his food (this is part of his genetic syndrome, PWS), as a pancake syrup and a sweetener for meals and mayonnaise.
I hesitate to say this, but most of us use it. While I wouldn’t suggest processed sugar to anyone, I advocate for the healthiest choices. Cane sugar in any form is pretty processed, no matter what the package says, but I have had the best luck with coconut sugar (which can be pricey, but I buy it bulk from Azure Standard.).
Oats are one of those grains that are considered gluten-free, but not everyone who eats gluten-free can tolerate them. I recommend keeping a bulk store of oats in the pantry to add to cookies and meatloaf. You can also grind them in the food processor for a good nutritious source of gluten-free flour. You can read more about making your own gluten-free flour mix here.
Depending on your budget, buying large tubs of nut butter can really be worth the price. My youngest son does not tolerate peanut butter, so we usually end up with sunflower nut butter, which has a bit of a bitter taste, but almond butter is pretty pricey. You might be able to afford almond butter, and buying it bulk will help you save money.
This is a staple we simply cannot live without. Not only does it help fight yeast, but it is a great skin moisturizer, grease for frying and tons of other uses. I buy large tubs of it and it takes us a couple of months to go through it, but it is worth the extra price for us.
I keep this oil strictly for making my homemade mayonnaise and creamy salad dressing. I have also bought grapeseed oil, which I really like as well.
Raw apple cider vinegar
I cannot say enough about keeping a jar or jug of ACV around. Not only does it have tons of healing properties, but it is also really good as an ingredient in my all-purpose nontoxic spray cleaner, which I make.
Probably the best spices you should have are herbs like oregano and basil for spaghetti sauce. Plus, chili powder and cumin for Mexican dishes. Always, always, sea salt instead of table salt, which contains many more nutrients your body needs.
Where can you get your pantry stock?
I personally buy most of my food from Azure Standard or wholesale food clubs, like Sam’s and Costco. For our family, the cheapest price for the best quality wins our business. I also buy a ton of stuff on Amazon, since I can usually purchase bulk items there. The pantry boxes on Amazon are really worth the price, particularly if running to the grocery store is a fiasco,;-)
I also rotate what I buy from month to month.
If you are like us and on a strict budget, buying a few bulk items a few at a time may be all you can afford. For example, I bought a huge bag of pasta several months ago, and we are half-way through it. So, I purchase other items that we need, such as a large bag of flour. Planning your meals from month to month helps you with this.
If you know you are going to make at least one pasta casserole dish a week, then it helps you see that perhaps you need a large bag of brown rice for your other dishes. Or, if you plan a lot of sandwiches one month, then you might need to prioritize flour for making bread. Planning like this really saves you money.
What about you? What do you have in your pantry that absolutely must have?