The Full Pantry

IMG_20171210_112514366Ah food. I love it and I bet you do too. Interestingly enough, many people only have a few days of food in their home at any given time. I am sure there are reasons for this. Some people only get paid once a month, others may not have the ability to transport large quantities of food and I bet others don’t really think of it. It is possible that going to a store every few days has become habit for many people. I will freely admit that this used to be me. I would shop on a weekend day and buy just enough to get me through the week. Usually by Friday or Saturday I was out of most of the basics.

Fortunately that all changed as I became aware of how unprepared I was. There was never an “Aha!” moment. It just slowly occurred to me that we did not have a lot of food and I was spending extra time, gas and effort going to the store four or five times a month. That realization eventually led to what I call my “full pantry” philosophy.

My goal is to have at least 30 days’ worth of food, including condiments, in our pantry at all times. This is easier said than done especially since, in our house, my wife does most of the cooking, but I tend to do the shopping. I greatly improved my list making abilities and learned to take an accurate inventory of what was on hand.

Achieving the full pantry took a little bit of time. I did not run out and buy several hundred dollars’ worth of food in one day (I could not have afforded to anyway). Instead, I slowly and methodically increased purchases each time I went to the store. I bought the items that we use regularly and just kept buying one or two extra each time I shopped. I looked for sales on the items that I was going to buy anyway, and when I found them, I doubled up. And, for a while, I followed the “use one, buy two (or three)” mentality of purchasing.

All of this food did not go unnoticed by the wife. Eventually, about the time cans started falling out of the pantry, she asked a) why we had so much food, and b) how was she supposed to find anything. Both of those were excellent questions. In answer to the first, I simply told her I wanted us to have extra food on hand. The answer to the second was a little more complicated. To help us both out, I purchased several FIFO can organizers. FYI, FIFO stands for first in, first out. You load new cans into the top and the oldest cans are sitting at the bottom waiting to be used next. Buying these really helped with organization and ensured that we were not leaving cans buried in the back while we used fresher items from the front.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to be prepared, I am sure that nearly everyone can agree that having a full pantry is an important aspect. In my experience, I have found that, now that we have so much food in the pantry, it is very easy to maintain the levels I established. In a couple of instances, the increased amount of food has helped us out a great deal.

A couple of points that I would make are:

The pantry is not our food stockpile or long term storage. I know some people who rotate their stores through their pantry, and that is fine also. In our case, our pantry is our day to day food storage, it is just deeper than it used to be.

Buy what you use and use it. You will not find lima beans, chick peas, or asparagus in our pantry because we do not eat them. I guess if they were free I would bring some home, but I do not want to spend money on items that we are only going to eat under the direst circumstances.

It helps to get some items out of the kitchen. To make more room in the pantry for food, other items that are not regularly used were moved out of the kitchen. These included the crock pot, blender, and waffle maker. Almost one entire shelf was wasted space because of these things that we rarely use.

Organization is key. For nearly everything, I can tell at a glance exactly what is missing, was used, and how many replacements I need to buy. This helps with budgeting, saves time, and becomes second nature.

Well, that is about it for now. Please chime in and post a comment? Do you have the “full pantry” or do you have the bare minimum to get by? Do you have any unique storage or organization methods you want to share? What drawbacks or problems did you have filling you pantry. Thank you and take care.

Water, our Water

DSC01988Research. It is a pretty cool thing and I like to do it. I think we can all agree that water procurement will be very important in certain scenarios. When the grid is down for an extended period of time, for whatever reason, having water is essential. Now, I am sure most of us already have a decent amount of water stored. No amount of water can last forever and it will have to be augmented from some source. In my case, the Lampasas River is probably the nearest water source and I can get water from there fairly easily. Once water has been procured, as everyone should know, it must be made safe for consumption by boiling or treating and filtering. The treatment and filtering are necessary to kill microbes and remove impurities. Without doing these steps, the water will more than likely make whoever drinks it extremely sick. My thought process therefore is to determine what is in our water?

Thanks to the Clean Water Act, states must assign waterways a “use” and then identify which waterways do not meet their intended use and for what reasons. This is commonly known as a “303 d list). In Texas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is the organization that governs our waterways. Here is the link to the Texas 303 d list:

The file is a .pdf and may be nice to save to your computer. You could even print out a copy to have information about nearby waterways in the event that computers are not working. This list provides the names of waterways and the segments that are impaired. You may see things like “chloride, sulfate, or bacteria”. Knowing this information about nearby water sources may help you in treating and filtering water (and maybe avoiding contact like swimming even during good times). The document is pretty lengthy so the search function will come in handy. Also, it is always a couple of years behind, so check back periodically for the current list.

Now that I have covered natural water sources, what about the water that comes from your tap? Well, fortunately, there is a resource out there that tells you exactly what is in your drinking water. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requires an annual report from drinking water providers. This may be called a “water quality report”, a “consumer confidence report”, or something else. Regardless, it is a requirement by law and will tell you exactly what is in your drinking water. For those of you who are already aware of this, I apologize and you can skip ahead to the end. For those who do not know, these reports list certain contaminants and the legal parameters or levels that are allowed to be in the water. That’s right, I said “allowed”. The report will list things such as lead, mercury, trihalomethanes, and many others. It may also provide information about the water source, and, sometimes, the purification process. Now you will be able to see if the source has issues and how clean your tap water really is. I urge each of you to look up the report from your water provider. Here is a link to the city of Waco’s 2015 report:

Also, bottles water companies are also required to have this same report. Here is a link to the Ozarka© brand water report:

Well, that is it for now. In a follow up we can discuss purification techniques, storage and other aspects of water. Until then, don’t forget to leave a comment. Have you ever reviewed a water quality report? Did you know they existed? What about the 303(d) list? Thank you and take care.