The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Stocking the Larder

In true Buddy System style Helen and I are building up our pantries together. It is so motivating to talk about our pantries and ideas as we go along and our progress! I am handing over to Helen as we catch up with what she has been doing....

Stocking the Larder.

Cooking-yes,and living become simpler rites this month. I have made a list of satisfactory meals planned around only one cooked dish.  This list is hung on the door of my kitchen cabinet for reference.  When I am lacking in ambition I do not wonder what to have for dinner.”

                                                    - Nell B. Nichols
                                 Woman’s Home Companion June 1925

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her wonderful essay “ Stocking the Larder” tells of her favourite literary domestic Nell B. Nichols, a columnist in the 1920’s for Woman’s Home Companion.  There was nothing she couldn’t do.  But Nell’s great gift was that she never made you feel inept; you knew if you followed her blithe instructions carefully, you could also experience domestic bliss.
Nell encouraged her readers to have a plan for managing their household.  And that dear friends is what I joyfully want to open with you today!
We have a small two bedroom, 2 bathroom home.  We love every inch of it, but it’s comfortably full.
I have just in the last couple of weeks downloaded the 12 month preparation list from the Mormons who are experts in food storage.  Their programme is called “ Safely gathered in”.  I like the sound of that.
My main reason for building a pantry is provision for my family for the unexpected and the joy of not having to go grocery shopping if we are sick or it ’s inclement weather.
With that in mind here is the list for building your pantry one month at a time:
12 Monthly Emergency Prep Lists
January: Water, Beverages, and Water Storage
February: Breakfast Foods and Communication
March: Tomatoes, Pasta, and First Aid
April: Soup, Fish, Beans, and Sanitation
May: Condiments, Spices, and Emergency Cooking
June: Grains, Vitamins, and Bread Making
July: Summer Foods, Emergency Drills, and Canning
August: Fruits, Vegetables, Shelter, and Bedding
September: Meat, Potatoes, and Earthquake Prep
October: Oils, Fats, and Fire Safety
November: Holiday Baking, Emergency Heat, and Clothing
December: Baking Basics, Power and Light Sources 

Annabel and I love having a plan.  We are “ step by step” girls whether we are saving or renovating or building a pantry, so this works very well for us.
The thought of purchasing and storing one years pantry food while undertaking your regular monthly grocery shopping can seem daunting.
The Safely Gathered In programme encourages you to purchase extra’s as you are able and to do that consistently.  It also has a motto “ Store what you use, and Use what you store.”
Glen and I have been busy at home, sorting through our belongings and making sure that we are using everything!
As this has led to a little bit of decluttering, it has opened up some cupboards which we are now installing inexpensive shelving ourselves.

We have been through the house and we can see in tops of wardrobes and our pantry that we can install more shelving.
Recently we bought 3 second hand filing cabinets for $45.  They hold nearly 700 cans and will be a wonderful aid as we fill them. They are not pretty, but they are strong and in good shape, so we are going to spray them with some left over spray paint.

As the year progresses, and the pantry grows, it frees up more income towards  buying the requirements for the present month.  The end of January saw me with being able to add significantly to my pantry with beverages.  This month is breakfast foods and communication.

In closing dear friends….building a pantry should be a pleasurable exercise for creating a calmer home, so let’s joyfully encourage each other in the art of stocking the larder.

Love Helen xxx

Annabel and I would love to know, what is your plan for Stocking the Larder?


  1. I am a step by step girl too. I love making a plan, I love working the plan, and I love communicating the plan. I love my “Bullet Journal” that I use to keep myself organised. (You can use an exercise book as your bullet journal, so the costs are next to nothing.) My husband is a worker bee who likes doing the work he sees in front of him. This is not a criticism – he is a really hard worker who gets a lot done. But he kindly accommodates my need for planning and talking about what we are going to do to get stuff done. If we set aside time to work on a project, I don’t want to be wasting that time to run all over town looking for supplies. I want my supplies already “gathered in” for the project.

    Stocking the pantry has been a pleasurable exercise. I have bought some inexpensive baskets at Bi-Lo and expandable shelves for the pantry at K-mart, to help keep my pantry more organised. Don has been appreciating the results of our planning as we are now building our food stores and taking advantage of discounted items. We now use the junk mail to pick out items that are heavily discounted and stock up on them. He is seeing how much we are benefiting from all aspects of our home keeping plans, we are eating nicer meals, saving money and things are running more smoothly. I have continued to think about comfort food for the pantry and one item that is important to me is maple syrup as it is a key ingredient in several of my favourite dinner recipes.

  2. I also use the Mormon guidelines for my food storage. Are you familiar with Wendy DeWitt? She has great suggestions for storage and usage of the foods put up. I really enjoy your posts.

  3. Great post Helen, fantastic suggestions and I am off to plan!

  4. Hi Annabel & Helen

    I must say that if there is one thing I have learnt from you both is to "plan and have a list". I used to have the list in my head but I never felt accomplished enough each I do

    Being a "city girl at heart" and having had shops close by to me that were open till all hours, I never had to be too prepared. Since moving to a rural location almost 3 years ago I have had to be much more prepared. Prepare in case of floods or cyclones as we can get cut off in any direction to the shops and also being an hour and a half to any shops......yes we do have a general store and a service station in town but these do not always have the necessities we need. Annabel I contribute a lot of my preparation to you from days gone by especially in the early stages of us moving here and me thinking "what have we done". We now have a box for emergencies with food items (changed regularly) batteries, torches, tarps, medications etc in. The pantry has lots of flours ready to bake at the drop of a hat, eggs, butter, milk are also in supply as are tinned foods, we have a few big esky's to put cold items in and of course we have a large supply of ice in the freezer ready for the food to go in. Our rule of thumb with our gas bottle is when we start one we order another straight away so we do not run out......lucky our stove top is gas but oven is electric

    So in my pantry list always is

    flours to make breads and dampers
    tinned foods
    vanilla essence
    first aid kit
    jars of pasta sauces (only to be used in emergencies as I like my own best)
    spare coffee (can't do with out my morning cup)
    a few treat items (well being cut off can get you down)
    water (cause the town water is not really suitable at the best of times let alone in a flood)

    So Ladies thank you for being such an inspiration in my planning over the times. Helen such a wonderful post to make people stop and take the time out to think about our lives and what we need to do


    1. Dear Aly, I am so proud of you! It is quite hard at times living in a remote area. Plus having a childs needs to consider, that makes us much more aware. You have risen to the challenge!
      You have done all the right things and thought about your most likely issues... ie getting cut off with flood waters. This is important as each area is different as more likely to have some things than others.
      And the money saving aspect too. Just having things on hand reduces what we end up paying high prices for in a pinch. Well done and thanks for sharing this!xxx

  5. I see the shelf stable milk cartons in your photo, that is something I've never thought about but would be very nice to have with my milk drinking grands. Surely stores in the USA sell it too. I am going to look and stock up on it if possible. Thanks for the tip.

  6. Hi Sherri, Diana, Jacqui and Aly, Well thank you Ladies for some lovely comments!. Sherri, my mum used to say that planning and looking forward to something is half the pleasure....and you know I think that is even with the work we do around our homes. I'm delighted to hear the upside of having started a pantry. It seems that the pleasure is multiplied with the addition of wonderful meals as well.
    Diana I do not know Wendy De Witt....thank you for telling us all. I will have a look at some of her writings. That's the great thing about having a community around this lovely blog. We all help each other.
    Jacqui dear enjoy yourself with your plan. I found the suggestions in the yearly plan fabulous, otherwise it can be overwhelming.
    Aly, it's always so good to hear from you. We have lived in the country all of our lives bar two. When I had a friend move to the country, she laughingly told me that " it killed the desire or ability to get takeaway". It's true. I hadn't realised it. For nights when I didn't want to cook or couldn't, you find yourself having simple food, such as baked beans on toast or a quick tuna mornay or something along those lines. Your list looks really good Ali. It's amazing the number of meals that can be made from those ingredients.
    I see that Nell B Nichols cookbooks are still sold on Amazon. Have a lovely evening, Helen x

  7. Dear Annabel and Helen,

    Thank you for yet another wonderful pantry post!

    Helen I love all the teas/pantry items on the table. sidenote**I think I spy a white slipcovered sofa which (in case you did not know) makes you my forever friend! The shelves you installed are nice and good find on the filing cabinets! It's so neat to see what you are doing in your home. Anyhow, my plans for stocking the larder are a bit like yours, step by step for sure. I have been using these blog posts along with some other sources as a scaffolding of sorts. I have a list of "must-haves", for toiletries and hygiene, first-aid and other emergency supplies, and the biggie of course is the food and water. I am keeping a running list of meals we currently eat, recipes I'd like to introduce to the family, and yet another of what I would call "pantry-only" meals. Off of those lists I am adding items and rotating what I currently have on a weekly basis.

    I would LOVE to live in the country and I was raised in a rural area until I was 14 years old. However, for 30 years now I've lived in a large city and I'm fortunate (or unfortunate if you hate the city, HAHA) to have 4 different major grocery stores within a 1.5 mile radius in any given direction, the closest being a 5 minute walk down my street. I currently stay on budget better if I go weekly, or every other week. Monthly would be heavenly. Maybe one day. Quite honestly, what I find most difficult within the pantry challenge are the "pantry only" meals that I can eat. I have some health issues that caused me to give up wheat products in August 2013. Also, I love beans but have to be careful how much of them I consume within a meal. My answer to this challenge for me is finding variety and learning what others do. So all in all, I'm still on a huge learning curve with that. This is all good stuff, it is stretching me and I'm learning so much. Searching for more information and embracing new ideas eliminates any possibility of the dreaded "woe is me, I can't eat that" mentality which is just draining and negative.

    Thank you everyone, big hugs to all!

    1. Colette when you spotted slip covers you were right.... you and Helen are natural born friends I can tell you that!
      We will have to work on a post of pantry meals and how to come up with ones around allergies etc. My issues are my husband can eat and loves seafood. So I can keep tinned salmon etc for him as that is very handy. But I cant eat most of it myself and need alternatives.
      Are you ok with rice? Rice seems a handy alternative also maybe Quinoa, Barley etc I will have to ask you more and we will see what we can come up with.
      I grew up in the country too. (which I loved) and am now in the city. I agree that we should look at the advantages of where we live and having a great choice is one of them. Choice creates better prices! It is funny that I have much more free fruit in the city than I ever did in the country! Thats one good thing! xxx

  8. Hi Colette, what a truly wonderful writer you are! Yes to the white slip covers. I have IKEA lounges for just nigh on 10 years now. The slipcovers are unbelievably easy to live with. I especially love them fresh off the line with a day in the sun and wind. They have that crisp and fresh touch.
    Possibly my weakest area is pantry only meals as well. I think it's that way for us all really. One of the things I noticed earlier in the week, that sometimes special diets have an advantage. Think of Vegan diets.....I saw the most wonderful array of "cheeses" made earlier in the week that were magazine worthy. Not only did they look delicious, but it did cross my mind, that dairy is a challenge with a pantry only source for food.
    Rhonda, you noticed the long life milk in the photo. We also can purchase long life cream here in Australia, and it's a pantry standard in our home. It can be whipped when chilled. So many of these products save us having to do a trip to the shops. Colette....three grocery stores so close.....what a budget blessing and a treasure trove of good things. Have a beautiful, fruitful day Ladies.....Love Helen xxx

  9. What a great idea using the filing cabinets Helen! Is the shelving now installed in your spare bedroom robe? It is resourceful thinking of how we can increase storage capacity without adding an extra purpose built area to the home i.e. an extra room! I remember years ago a lady I know using a ventilation system in a garden type shed to keep cans etc cool for storage. Air came in through floor level and was removed via a whirlygig like you would on a house roof space in summer. The vents were sealed in winter. I might still renovate a garden shed in the future like this as keeping the stored food cool enough time is my main concern.

    Your idea of eliminating excess possessions to enable more storage space is wonderful. At present I have 3 areas to store foodstuffs: long term or bulk, mid term and everyday pantry stocks. I also store toilet paper in the broom cupboard, toiletries in various tubs inside the bathroom cabinet (its large) and other stores of cleaning basics and rags, glass jars etc in the laundry. I'll be re thinking how I can keep everything turned over and used efficiently. Nothing worse than throwing out our stores, it is like throwing our money in the rubbish which we all would definitely avoid doing!!! It is so helpful sharing ideas here. Thanks everyone. xo

  10. Hi Annabel,
    This morning yielded a surprise visit from a dear friend and her daughters. They live about 8 hours drive away and were in the area visiting family. How nice it is to have the pantry stocked where you can make a simple cake and everyone gets to choose their favourite tea.
    I realised afresh that having a pantry helps us to be gracious and hospitable .
    Annabel darling, I always thought you brought the best of the country to the city with you!
    Love Helen

    1. Helen, what you say about stockpiling allowing us to be gracious and hospitable really resonates with me. It goes back too, to what you said a couple of weeks ago, about keeping some little luxuries in your stockpile. How gorgeous, no matter our station in life, to be able to lay a tempting table for unexpected guests, and make them feel welcome. I'm always amazed at how these gestures of generosity impact on people, sometimes forever....Mimi xxx

  11. Hi Kaye,
    Thank you for your wonderful comment! I remember a lady on Simple Savings years ago had her shed fitted out. I remember thinking I would just love to do that. Recently one of my friends told me that she cleaned out her pantry and threw away a huge garbage bag of food. If I had known I would have asked her for it, as you when you check sites about how long things can store, it can often go significantly pass the best by date.
    It's so much fun having a new area of stores to build each month. I'm enjoying it! Love Helen x

  12. Another wonderful post thank you very much Helen

    I had a good stock pile and then ill health last year deflated it, I am so very grateful that I had it as it was the difference between being able to met my commitments and not. So I began by stocking up on toiletries and now that I have 6 months worth of toiletries I have begun on pantry items.

    This week will see me collect long life skim milk and skim milk powder. I am also wanting to purchase the spices needed to make Mexican seasoning. I am also getting a few extra cans of beans. Slowly I am building up my reserves so that I can feel secure once more.

    God Bless and have a bountiful week

  13. Dear Helen & Annabel,

    Must say I agree with you 100% on stocking up your shelves for emergency situations, you just never know when disaster, sickness or hard times will strike.

    I also cringe when I hear of people going through their cupboards & disposing of everything that's out of date. Best Before is not the same as Use By & there is often weeks/months & even years left in some products, especially cans & to a lesser degree glass jars. Whatever happened to the "open it, look & sniff test"? LOL. If there is no mold & it smelt good then we eat it, full stop! There wasn't any USE BY & BEST BEFORE dates to be seen on the products years ago & we all survived quite well using our common sense.

    What about childhood - mum & dad use to cut the mold off the end of the cheese block or scrape it off the top of the jam etc & we were never sick. In fact I'm certain these are the things that helped grow our immunity to germs. Same as people constantly disinfecting & over cleaning their homes, it all takes away from your immunity.

    Just my Perspective :)

    Love & hugs to you all

    1. Susan I agree. One I can think of that is amazing is honey. Honey lasts forever, well pure honey does and I have seen it with a two year date. Ridiculous. Yesterday I was reading a magazine in the doctor waiting room. There were ham recipes and it said you can "freeze ham for several weeks" which made me laugh as it can be frozen for a year or more at least. Maybe its a ploy to get people to throw stuff out and buy more? Cans never used to have a date at all as far as I knew.
      As I build up my supplies I will try to rotate, use, replace and still grow it a bit like a little shop but as you say I will try and use common sense about what is fresh and fine and what is not.
      Thanks Susan. Have a lovely weekend. We have it hot, I think Tassie would be very nice! xxx

    2. Oh Annabel you poor thing, can't imagine how you stand that never ending heat day after day. It was meant to be around 24 today but I'm a little chilly as it's only hit 15 so far :) & lots of lovely rain forecasted for tomorrow, Yipee!

      Yes the trick of running these types of large pantries are all about rotation, which can often be difficult as things are pushed to the back or moved by others without us being aware. Once you have a system which takes this into consideration you're fine. For me it was putting everything on movable trays or in see-through tubs so I could easily get to the back. Whatever works for you is the name of the game. ;) xxx

  14. Dear Susan and Annabel,
    You girls are the best! I love hearing you talk, as this was the way that I was brought up as well. And yes, we didn't get sick. Common sense ruled the day.
    Susan I was shocked recently when I was reading someone's pantry posts she pointed out what cans could still be used 2 years past the best by date. I need to look into this more, but it's really just waste to throw something out without seeing if it's not useable.
    I had to get a system going as well. I have great hopes for the filing cabinets. There isn't much in them as yet, but I went and got some cans out the other day and it was so nice, just to pull the draw and out it slid to reveal my few cans in there! Have a wonderful day, Love Helen

  15. Mel, you're a star with the way that you encourage us all with building up our reserves. Please keep telling us how you are going with rebuilding your pantry. I know that the Prudent Housewife says that it can be worrying to see your supplies dwindle, but she reminds herself that this is why she built her pantry reserves in the first place. Love Helenx

  16. I am a stalwart believer in stockpiling too, but my methods wax and wane and are more to do with saving money than worrying about natural disasters or loss of income at this stage of our lives as we are close to retirement. So no matter your stage of life or income, stockpiling is important. I grew up in a large family though, so can vouch for the fact that stockpiling fed seven hungry mouths many a time when the electricity or gas bill gobbled up Mums meagre income. She would buy giant bags of oats, powdered milk, and rice through our church community. Many warming breakfasts of oats made with the powdered milk and lashings of brown sugar, or steamed rice and home grown vegetables graced our table, and whist we seemed odd to some at the time, our friends from more well heeled families, flocked to our house for sleepovers, gobbled up the food and love, and returned home replenished in more ways than one. The thing was that Mum grew up on a farm, a long way from shops, and she knew how to stockpile, and s-t-r-e-t-c-h a meal! My stockpiling this week was mostly of toiletries. I found a way of buying our favourite soap in bulk and have put away 4 boxes of 16 bars of soap at half the retail price. That saves us $64 over buying at retail price. The great thing there is that I have unwrapped them so they harden and last longer, and they're scenting our bedroom and living room in the most divine fashion. French Pear stored in the wardrobe for the bedroom, and Frangipani stored in the IKEA cupboards surrounding the TV, for the living room. I also saw our favourite Dove shampoo and conditioner being sold on clearance for less than half price, so I grabbed four bottles of conditioner and two of shampoo as we use more of one than the other. That will save us $30 over time. Another thing to keep handy, saving stress and money many times, is things like pain killers, anti-histamines, anti-nausea medication, bite and sting relieving spray or cream, bandaids, bandages, and some of the old remedies like Ichthammol ointment and Pawpaw ointment. These are an absolute godsend when little accidents occur, be they self inflicted or inflicted by nature. I replenish these stores annually, and it usually costs in the realm of $90 at a discount pharmacy, but that $90 has the potential to save hundreds in more expensive doctors visits or emergency buying at full price. Something to consider perhaps?

    1. Mimi what brand of soaps do you buy as these scents sound just perfect!
      On the farm supplies of medicines like you mention have saved lives. A man was bitten by a swarm of bees while on a tractor and his life was saved as Mum had allergy tablets to give him as treatment was over an hour away. Others like pain killers, bite cream etc are just life savers as you say, especially in the middle of the night and I noticed everything bad that ever happened used to happen on a Sunday or long weekend and back when the kids were small there were no 24 hour anything!
      Mum is still a long way from shops and still can feed any number of visitors without blinking and if the road is no good because its too muddy she isnt phased she just goes to the pantry and freezer.It sounds like we both have had good families and training going way back! I am so thankful for that! Thanks Mimi for your thoughts.Have a good week! xxx

  17. Dear Mimi, what a wonderful comment you posted. Truly a whole story about your mum. I would love to see you write a e book one day on some of these stories. They are rich in a multitude of ways. What is Ichthammol? I too stock up annually on medications. You can get home brand paracetamol and ibuprofen at Woolworths, for 70 cents and $1.99 respectively, both made in Australia. Annabel I too was raised in the country out of town, and it seemed Murphy's Law that everything happened at night or on a Sunday. Thank you both for the wonderful posts. Love Helen xxx


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