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?)

Oats

Popcorn

Brown Rice

Lentils

Millet

Baking Soda

Vanilla

Various herbs and spices

Black Olives

Pickles

Various Pastas and pasta sauces

Raisins

Dried apricots

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

Dried cranberries.

Almonds

Cashews

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.)

Walnuts

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

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