Organized Pantry: A Beginner's Guide to Pantry Pride

A working pantry? It's the secret weapon of a well-organized kitchen.

A planned reserve of foodstuffs and sundries used in the home, a pantry saves time, money and stress in the kitchen.

Tap the pantry for unexpected meals and reduce trips to the supermarket.

Stock it with frugal finds to lower grocery costs.

Set aside a supply of food and sundries for a rainy day and protect your family against weather emergencies or financial dislocation.

Properly managed, the pantry is an integral part of an organized home. Polish your pantry pride with our best hints and tips.

A Pantry's Not A Place: It's An Attitude

"Oh, I'd love to have a pantry," writes a reader, "but my house doesn't have one!" Sure it does! If there's so much as a spare roll of toilet paper tucked underneath a sink, the household boasts a pantry.

Don't confuse storage space with the reality of the pantry principle. Certainly, it's helpful to have designated cabinet space for pantry goods--but that's not the pantry. Think of the pantry as a reservoir of consumable goods which may be stored in any area of the home.

Tiny urban apartment or spacious rural farmhouse, all homes can include a pantry. That some houses may or may not feature a specific storage area labeled "pantry" is beside the point. A pantry's not a place, it's an attitude!

Eyes On The Goal

What's the goal of establishing and maintaining a pantry? It's two-fold: household convenience and protection against unexpected events. A well-planned pantry means that the household will never run out of commonly used products such as toilet paper.

More important, a pantry is a reserve against hard times. Whether it's job loss, illness, or natural disaster, a pantry ensures that the family will continue to be fed, clean, and comfortable in the face of adversity.

A beginner's pantry focuses on convenience and contains back-up products for each storable item used in the home. The standard is simple: for each open bag, box or carton in the household, the pantry contains a second, back-up product, toothbrushes to tortellini. A good first goal: a three-day supply of food and hygiene supplies adequate to support your family plus one additional person.

More robust pantries serve additional goals. A mid-range pantry can feed a family for a period of two weeks to a month in case of emergency.

This pantry includes substitutes for fresh foods, such as powdered milk, dried fruits and vegetables, and protein products. A mid-range pantry offers convenience and basic protection.

The most comprehensive home pantries are designed to meet long-term food storage needs. For instance, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) are taught to maintain a one-year supply of food and clothing for their families.

To do so, these premier pantry managers stock versatile foodstuffs with long shelf life, such as whole wheat berries, together with a variety of preserved and dried foods. LDS home managers learn pantry-specific cooking techniques to enhance nutrition and appeal of long-keeping foods.

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