A Provident Pantry: One staple of a frugal life.

Reed e-filed our taxes on Saturday.

BP (before Parker) this was a time of great anticipation.  Kind of like a Christmas Eve just for Mom and Dad, we entertained visions of fun stuff about to become ours.

We felt pretty responsible by putting half into savings……..and blowing the rest.

Those days are long (really long) gone.

This year while others  take advantage of the low cost of flat screen HD televisions, we’ll be using every penny of our return on medical bills.  And while being responsible is it’s own reward, I can’t say I don’t still dream of a Oreck Halo vacuum cleaner coming to live at our house.

Our only ‘splurge’ will be the money Reed will give me to put towards rebuilding our depleted food storage.

Which, in today’s economy, could be considered kind of exciting.

I’m a huge believer in keeping a well stocked pantry.   I don’t even want to think of where we’d be if over the last 5 years we hadn’t had our food storage to fall back on.

Some of the items I’ll be replenishing  include:

Flour (25 pound bags)

Cannola Oil (Our local health food store has glass bottles of organic cannola oil on sale! )

Olive Oil (Did you know you can freeze olive oil?)



Brown Rice



Baking Soda


Various herbs and spices

Black Olives


Various Pastas and pasta sauces


Dried apricots

Dried apples  ( I plan on drying my own this Autumn.  My parent’s trees produce excellent organic apples!)

Dried cranberries.



Pecans  ( I could purchase organic unshelled local pecans for about $2.00 a pound.  But then I realized that my time is valuable too.  There are other things I’d rather do to save money.)


Marinades, Vinegars, Soy Sauce

Chocolate Chips

Cocoa Powder

Orange and various other frozen juices.

Various bottles of juices.  (Again, my local health food store is having some great sales!)

Organic lemon and lime juices.

Long term freeze dried fruits and veggies.

This last month we have literally lived out our pantry and freezer.  My freezer is seriously empty.  So I’ll be stocking up on meats, cheeses, butter, etc.

I’m still good for things like wheat, sugar, beans, white rices, powdered milk (got a 25 pound bag right before the price went up!), canned goods (which I stock up on during the Fall case lot sales),  etc.

I can’t afford all organics.  I do what I can and I’ve made peace with that.  There is a store not too far from us that offers hormone and antibiotic free meats.  Their sale prices are excellent.

I also won’t buy low quality cuts of meat.  I’d much rather have more meatless nights and be able to purchase high quality meat than have meat every night that is tough or tasteless regardless of how carefully I prepare it.

I often make homemade rice bowls using brown rice and fresh veggies topped with a few slices of a wonderful piece of steak.  My family is just as happy with this as they would be with the whole piece of steak and a sides of veggies and rice.  MUCH cheaper and healthier too.

With the demise of Albertson’s here in Utah, I do a lot of my shopping at Costco.   I’m not a great fan of Wal-Mart who, since Albertsons left, has slowly been raising their prices.  So I’ve started using Walmart mainly for price matching other ads. And while I coupon, I simply don’t have the time these days to go from store to store to store cherry picking the deals.

One other thing I do with my yearly food storage infusion is to stock up on things such as laundry detergent, fabric softener, garbage bags, dish soap, etc.  I do a lot of laundry. I wash a lot of dishes.  And we use our share of garbage bags.  It drives me NUTS when I run out or have to purchase stuff like this monthly.

Gardening (swoon)  and some canning supplies will be purchased in this batch as well.

Now, before you think I must spend a fortune on groceries, let me say that between this once a year windfall and my monthly grocery allowance I spend about HALF of what other families our size spend.

Buying in bulk, taking advantage of sales, couponing, cooking from scratch, gardening and canning help me with this.

But I enjoy doing most of this stuff.

YOU may hate it all.

It’s important that start where YOU find inspiration.

Where I couldn’t make it without my air conditioning in the Utah summers, you may simply open the windows and call it good, saving yourself a bundle.  (I line dry like crazy  to help make up for my closed windows and cooler air. I’m also the one insisting that everyone turn off lights when they leave a room.)

I don’t believe that living frugally consists of making radical changes that you won’t be able to sustain  over the long haul.

Instead I see frugal living as taking advantage your strengths to help meet your goals.  It’s intentionally making the choice to be the best steward over our blessings, whether they come in the form of  our time, energy, or financial resources.

As you make small changes and see the positive results, you build up confidence and discover more desire to grow your skills in ways that bring  joy (yup, actual JOY) into your life.

ps: Wondering how to build your own food storage?  Here are some excellent sites for resources, how-tos and inspiration:

The Prudent Homemaker

My Food Storage Deals

Prepared LDS Family

Provident Living

About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. My goal in January was to rebuild my thinning storage, I guess with one week left I should really get on that…

  2. You eat like me. Or, I eat like you. Whatever! I would be very happy with the fare at your house. Or, you could eat the same at my house. Oh! I mean we have food preferences and frugality in common. *smile*

  3. What a great post! Thanks for sharing your ideas and thoughts. Lots of great things to think about and work on.

  4. What a great way to use your tax refund. Which health food store do you go to? Good Earth? I, too, need to replenish some of my food storage, and especially add GARBAGE bags.

    Tammy says: Good Earth had the juice and oil on sale. Sunflower Market has the meat. They also have their frozen organic fruits and veggies on sale that I’ve been using for Parker’s blenderized diet. (woot!)

  5. Amanda Wilson says:

    Once again, you inspire me Tammy. I wish I could come stay with you for a week to learn all your fabulous habits, recipes, and feed off your optimism. You make me want to be a better person, mom, and wife. :)

    Tammy says: Okay, Amanda. I’m going to print off the comment and tape it to my mirror. Your sweet words made my heart sing!

  6. One thing I’m going to check on and I’ll let you know, my friend that lives out of state gets a reduced price on her power bill because she has an oxygen concentrator that runs all day. I’m going to call RMP today and see if they do that. We both would definitely qualify with all the crap we have that has to be plugged in for our kidos!

    Tammy says: What? No way! How amazing would that be. Those oxygen concentrators can crank up an electric bill like crazy! Let me know, k?

  7. Great idea for your refund…and I agree with you about Walmart raising their prices. I noticed it locally a few months back and wrote about it on my blog. It seems they’re raising up prices 20 cents or more on all their Great Value brands to what was then the current national brand price, and then raising up the national brands. When I brought it up to an employee, she said she was told they were supposed to be dropping prices. Not so. It’s really sad. Especially with the state of our economy and the meager job market.

  8. We filed this weekend too. I sat and dreamed about those numbers on the top of the screen for a good 30 minutes. We could do SO much. Lets go on a cruise, lets buy a new tv.
    I could have a new industrial mixer I need for my cake business. It would be a good chunk on a new car.
    My 30 minutes was over and I realized all of that money was going to pay down debt. Maybe we’ll go out to dinner 1 night. Just the two of us, but that is all the fun that money will be doing. Sure I was (am?) heartbroken, but my family needs this. We need to get out of debt. It will make us a million times happier than a big tv will.
    I’m proud of you for having your prorities straight.

    p.s. will you come over an organize my pantry? :)

  9. This is a great list, Tammy! Wow!

  10. Well, I’m super excited that now that we have a house I can start buying things in bulk and having a garden!!! We had one tomato bush last year ($3) and I didn’t have to buy tomatoes for 2 months!
    I have to talk to some of my friends about couponing… but it seems they end up with a lot of pre-processed foods doing that and I’m not into that. Can you help me out with that?

    Tammy says: Krista, it really is easy to wind up with a ton of processed foods when using coupons. I just found some great organic coupons online for milk, and Kefir.

    Remember that coupons work well on non food items too.

    I don’t buy a ton of processed stuff. I make as much as I can from scratch. But with several kids taking lunches to school/work each day I like to have crackers, string cheese, and things like this on hand. I’ve gotten excellent deals on these items using coupons. I’ve been loving the online coupons for a $1.00 of a pound of cheese that have been posted lately.

    You can find online coupons via Google or http://www.pinchingyourpennies.com

  11. Chris says:

    Do you have a crockpot? If so, here is my trick for cheaper chuck roasts: Season each side of meat with salt, pepper and cumin (yes, cumin). Slice a large red onion in thin half moons. Fry the onion in veg oil (not olive) until carmalized (don’t save time on this step- it’s critical that they be deeply carmalized). Take the onion out of the fry pan and put it back on HIGH heat. Put the onions in the bottom of the crock pot. Sear each side of the roast to a nice brown, then put it on top of the onions in the crock pot. Deglaze the fry pan with one can of beef consomme (in the soup aisle). Pour the consomme over the beef, put the lid on, turn the crock pot on for 6 hours on high, 7-8+ on low. When you’re ready to serve, take the meat out to a platter and rest it. Pour the juices into a saucepan and add 1-2 TPSP cornstarch (pre-dissolved in hot water). Simmer until thickened. Serve on the side. Trust me. Remember how picky my DH is???lol

    Tammy says: Oh, Chris. Adding this to my must try list! (yum!)

  12. WOW! I really wish I could plan and stock like you. I think I could, I just hate going out and spending that much money at once. I know that it’s worth it…I just have a hard time with large bills! LOL!
    I should start working on it a little at a time!

  13. I love these blog links! We live in a small townhome, so our storage area is almost nothing, but this has inspired me to try to try to rearrange things and make more space! I think I’m going to try stocking up on sales soon! Usually we buy just what we need for the week and nothing else!

  14. Ok, how do you freeze olive oil? How do you thaw it then? And how long is it good for after it’s been thawed?


    • You just stick it in a freezer safe container……like a plastic bottle. Make sure to leave room for it to expand as it freezes. Then just set it out to thaw. Not sure what the freezer life is, but it is longer than the shelf life. :D


  1. […] we were married we’ve also always built up our food storage using some of our income tax return.  With prices going up as quickly as they have been,  it has become harder and harder […]

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