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 14 July 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. How to build up your pantry with not much money.

This has been such an interesting week! It is even hard to pick a subject and stick to it! After over six months of weekly pantry posts I thought maybe I would be worn out and run out of things to talk about! But no. I am just learning! Even today I have about six things in mind that I want to get to!
But in the main I want to talk about how can we build up our pantries when already groceries are costing us a lot. How are we meant to ever have enough spare money to do this? It can seem a huge task and impossible.

We have really established (or I have!) that a pantry with a good amount of supplies is really important. After six months I am getting closer to a stage where I can feel more secure with what we have.
One thing I have learned from Patsy, Teri and others is that you get there step by step, little by little and by consistently doing what you can with what you have.

The photo's today are of Magnolia Trees all flowering just now in Adelaide... we have about a dozen on our block and next street over. I love them and they are all pink! The flowers are huge!

Some time ago I invited everyone to send in their pantry pictures, stories, tips etc. (This still stands I love to see your pantries and hear how you did it!) Teri's pantry was just a joy to see. And I have some more to post and others coming in shortly which will be wonderful!

This week Vicky wrote to me. Her letters inspired me enormously as she has covered why she built up her pantry, why she thinks it's important and some of the ways she did it. I will let her do the talking here....

 "I know lots of people have no pantry whatsoever they shop for dinner daily. I know people who don't worry because they think the government is going to take care of them. A few ladies have told me they don't want the "clutter" of a well stocked pantry. Since my husband lost his job in January I am grateful every single day that I have my pantry. And I feel that it is our jobs to make sure that our families are fed."

(I have heard comments like this too Vicky! Also several ladies have told me they have had negative comments about preparedness. This is a funny one. If a person has a collection of 1000 DVDs or something no one says a word. But staples that keep people alive, that is a different matter! Interesting isnt it?)

"When we decided years ago that I would quit my job to be a stay at home mom I decided it would be my full time job to save money and that is kind of how I got started. Then I got serious about my pantry and preparations due to feelings I was getting almost like I was driven and not sure why. So one night when I went to bed I asked God am I doing the right thing or am I just being nutty? Well that very same night when I was watching tv 2 different preachers were preaching about preparing and having food and water. I took that as a sign that I was on the right path.

That was years ago. I wanted and needed to learn to be a good steward of our resources.

I am so very thankful now that I maybe have forgone some things, stuck to a budget and put a lot of effort into my endeavor. Over the years I was able to give a little help to those who truly needed it and the big one my husband lost his job in January and we are mostly living from our pantry and along the way we are almost debt free!"

I asked Vicky about affording to add to the pantry when money is tight....

"After doing the normal things like shutting off lights and t.v.'s and cutting back cable and things like that I really started to pay attention to things. Like what? Ok I will tell you.

I stopped letting my kiddos be grazers! I was finding half of this and part of that in the trash and half full glasses that never got finished so I changed the house rules to meal time and 1 snack and only a half a glass of anything at a time since half was getting dumped anyway!
I stopped being a short order cook! Your choice is what is put on the table or a pb sandwich and a glass of milk and I would tell them what was on the dinner menu and they opted for the sandwich I adjusted the amount I cooked.
I simplified meals. Who says buttered noodles and green beans isn't dinner! When money is really tight it can be, but I made simpler more economical meals that didn't drain a week's worth of food in on sitting. Fried cabbage and noodles, more soups and stews with bread, etc.
For newbie moms this can be important or not depending how you look at it but, kids don't know what sugar tastes like if you don't give it to them. None on the oatmeal, cream of wheat, cheerios none! Apple juice was a treat all until the age of 5 or 6. Why that age? They started school enough said. Honestly though if I cut them up bowls of different fruits they were in heaven! Yep no sugar or whipped cream on strawberries either. I always encouraged them to try and enjoy foods as they are; carrots and potatoes that taste like carrots and potatoes not covered up. And the money you save during those years is a big plus!"

I thought this was excellent! Thank you so much Vicky you have made so many good points! 

I LOVE what Vicky says about making saving money her job! There is so much we can "make" this way! And the way Vicky saves in other areas in order to build up her pantry. To me this hits the nail on the head!
If we think we will find extra money and then we will stock up it might never happen! But if we try all kinds of things to save and channel that into our pantries then big things happen!

Gradually we have covered a whole series of ways to build up a pantry. Preserving what you have or bargains you might find, purchasing major specials and stocking up when the price is right. Bartering with what you have. Learning new skills, gardening, gleaning, gathering and everything we can think of. Making the most of opportunities! 

The way my brain works I do better if I have a plan. ie if I think an effort will save me a few dollars and then I will have a few dollars I really don't find that exciting. But if I find a way to save and I think "I can add to my pantry with this!" I find that exciting!  Because of this I have so many challenges going and some completed that are helping me build up supplies. 

One recent one was a use it up freezer challenge. That used up lots of bits and pieces. We do need to rotate what we have stored. For three weeks my grocery bill was much lower. I added a lot to my pantry in those weeks with the money saved. That was a win/win challenge!

My make all my Christmas presents challenge is doing the same. I can build up our pantry and emergency fund with the savings.

Any swap or challenge that will work for you can hugely add to your supplies! 
We are all different. Giving up something that is unhealthy and expensive can be a huge win all round... like soft drink or take away or something. Converting a weekly cake and coffee was mine. That $7 became part of my pantry fund. You can do a lot with that! If I choose half price items, things we can and do use, that becomes around $700 a year worth of groceries in my pantry. And that was just one way I found...

We have talked a lot about scripture and the Proverbs 31 woman not being afraid of the winter as she is well prepared. Others I love are about working hard in summer to store up for the winter and ants being wise and hard workers. The ant comparison I have always loved! And it does not go unnoticed... Patsy has an ant on her blog header and on her E Book. Because it is entirely appropriate!

Now this all ties in with what we are talking about here. I thought I really understood the verses about ants. I had it that,yes, they are very hard little workers, always busy! They are strong and industrious! They know when winter is coming and you can see them out working like little troopers getting ready! It is truly amazing!
So I thought I "got it" and I loved it. Working hard, bit by bit... diligence and consistency! 
Then this week by complete chance (or something else?) I saw this clip. It only takes a couple of minutes to watch it is very...

In order to understand the references to ants please take a minute to watch this!  It is not boring! It is truly an eye opener and it spoke to me and my understandings and shook them up! There is so much in this!

Can you think of some ways that you can creatively add to your pantry? How do you manage to add, build it up and make progress? Our little ant buddies follow the bit by bit, keep at it method and it works!

I hope you are having a lovely week! It is wet and stormy here but I am enjoying the Magnolias!
With thanks to Vicky for sending me so much helpful


  1. The ant hill video was amazing - I think there is one of them under my kitchen! (Just kidding!) I understand about people having a negative connotation of 'preparedness' and yet it is the most sensible thing to do. I grew up on a farm in the Rocky Mountain west and it snowed in the winter (still does). We lived quite a distance out of town on a road that was not maintained by the county, translates to - we had to clear the snow ourselves. Sometimes we would get so much snow that the county roads would be closed for a few days, we had food in the freezer and pantry, mostly from our gardens and trades with others (we had apples, they had peaches) we went to the u-pick farms for cherries etc. Our bread was homemade and our beef was homegrown, we fished and hunted and usually had a freezer full of meat and veggies. We worked hard and ate simply but well. It really is a mind set and a way of life that is a choice.
    Having seen so many natural disasters in my life I am shocked and amazed that people are not more self sufficient, and do not have the emergency food stored. When we lived in California (earthquake country) we all had a 'quake bag' in the trunk of each of our cars, you never knew if you might be somewhere when the quake hit and not get home for awhile. I can't tell you how many people just laughed when I told them about mine! I have worked in the insurance industry for many years and have listened to a lot of people tell me why they did not buy the coverage that they needed at that moment and the most common answer was - "I never thought it would happen to us!" If there is anything harder to do than tell someone who just lost everything that they have no coverage for that loss, I can't remember what it is, I have had this experience many times before and it never got any less heartbreaking. Being prepared is not nutty - it is responsible, it is not being negative - it is being ready to help your neighbor in a pinch, the government will have people who are in life or death situations to help first. Those who are hungry because they have never planned for a disaster are not going to be first on the list of who gets help.
    Sorry this sort of became a rant! I guess I feel pretty strongly about it! And yes I do think the Proverbs 31 woman was not worried because she prepared for the hard times. It really is a duty!

    1. Dear Kathy, This wasn't a rant, I loved it! Thank you! I loved hearing about your experiences. You have seen a lot. I think snow, earthquakes etc are why I am finding the US ladies so experienced in this and a wealth of knowledge. So I really appreciate you sharing this.
      Growing up near the Rocky Mountains sounds so romantic to me and I have a visual image! Your childhood sounds beautiful.
      I enjoyed hearing this so much, thank you Kathy and these experiences have you in a very sensible mind set I think. You are right, we really need to be responsible. With love,

  2. Thanks Annabel and Vicky for the wonderful post. I was amazed by the Ant Video! And the Magnolia trees are simply beautiful.
    I think the key message here is intentionality. Building a pantry means keeping an inventory, changing our habits, keeping abreast of different foods, securing good buys.
    It's one can, one packet, one choice at a time.
    Thanks so much ladies for the wonderful encouragement.
    Love Helen xxx

    1. Dear Helen,
      That ant video really spoke to me! I was amazed too! It was far beyond what I ever imagined!
      Thank you Helen! Love

  3. When our children were young I made the decision that I would not drag them to the supermarket during the long summer holidays. Now this meant that I either had to leave them home with my husband OR build up the regular supplies during the year.

    I opted for the second choice so I would buy 1 extra of something that we used all of the time starting at the beginning of the year, things like flour I left until later in the year but I still had a good stock up even with a fortnightly shop.

    Mind you by the end of the school holidays things were getting pretty low so becoming creative to make it to the first shop without children after school had gone back was often interesting.

    I think we often forget that if we can only afford a tin of something this week then that is what we buy, next week things might be better and we can then afford to buy a couple of tins of something.

    Today my extra was tinned tomatoes - just a few tins to go into the pantry.



    1. Dear Lynette,
      That is really good, it is all "getting ahead" a little bit at a time. And it does add up amazingly.
      And it is school holidays new and I have noticed some fairly fractious children in the supermarket with frazzled Mothers!
      Tinned tomatoes are a goodie... a lot of uses. I hope you are feeling much better this week and a much nicer week! With love, Annabel.xxxx

  4. What beautiful magnolias you have Annabel. And such a pretty colour! The primary thing I see both in your post, and in the wonderful video, is that each little thing we do makes a difference, and none of us is too small or too insignificant to have an impact on our families lives. So in that vein, I think it's important to teach our children about waste and the impact on your life and the lives of others of wastage, be it waste of resources, food, energy or money. Restaurants and businesses factor the cost of 'waste' into their budgets, and so should we. Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      We dont have to be great just faithful and consistent and what it amounts to is amazing!
      I have noticed what you are saying... businesses dont allow waste r they dont succeed. There is a cooking show we enjoy so much and the message is always there... the chefs waste nothing in their restaurants. They purchase carefully, plan carefully and use up everything... down to things I once would never have used... but I do now!
      So nice to have you back! With love

  5. Thank you! Wonderful post and very good tips! I am just wondering, aside from your blog, which ones you ( and other readers here) would say are good to read?
    I got a few second hand books on the topic of pantry preparedness and intend on sorting through unused things to sell in a car boot to use that money to add to my shelves :)
    Much love

    1. Dear Heidi,
      On this subject I follow A Working Pantry, The Prudent Homemaker, Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth (see Pantry section it is lovely). Other blogs on my side bar are also general savings and general encouragement.
      Also Everyday food, Ball canning website... then use you tube to see and learn any skill you wish, its wonderful! There are many good ones which is so helpful.
      I love the idea to turn stuff you dont use into the money to stock up on essentials. Also this makes space! Good luck I hope this really works well for you. We should all do this! With love,

  6. How blessed you are to live around such beauty; the magnolia flowers are magnificent. The only time I have seen magnolia's was when we went to visit my maternal side of the family in South Carolina.

    I have a wonderful memory of the magnolia's that is related to a homeless man in Charleston. He picked up a handful of the fallen blossoms from the ground and made them into a bouquet; handed them to me; said, "God bless you;" and walked off. I will always equate magnolia's with sharing.

    Great post of preparedness and one very good reason to stock up.

    1. Dear Glenda,
      We are really lucky, it is very pretty around here. At different times of years there are different features. In spring all the streets are lined with purple flowers. Just now it is Magnolias, citrus and roses.
      You have a lovely Magnolia story! I hope you are having a good week! With love

  7. My neighbor man across the corner has those magnolias along the street in front of his house and I enjoy them every year.

    One way that I build up my pantry without much expenditure at all is to can dry beans that I already have on hand. They are delicious and ready to use anytime once I have done so. I feel like they could be our protein source in a time of disaster and could be eaten straight from the jar if we had no other option. This is the method that I use-

    1. Dear Lana,
      That is a good idea and much handier as they are ready to use and fast. Also the protein factor. Protein seems to me to be the hardest thing to store up. I have been adding tins of tuna and some salmon as I see I have lots of carbs... too many!
      Thank you for this, with love,

  8. I love your blog and read it regularly. But please don't use the font for today's post--it is almost too small to read. Have to get up very close to the screen. Not meaning to complain but just don't want to miss any of your good words. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. I agree with you! I didnt realize how small it would turn out so I will know next time. Thank you so much for reading I am so glad to have you here! xxx

  9. For the Aussies- there is a website 'ripe near me' where people list their excess produce for people to come and get for free or a small fee. It was started in Adelaide where someone noticed fruit from fruit trees going to waste. Is all over Australia now. I can see someone has listed free lemons a few streets away from me.
    Hope this helps

    1. Dear Marge,
      How did I not know about this? Oh my goodness I just checked it out! Thank you so much! I am off to explore this now! This is just wonderful! Many thanks, love

    2. Hi Annabel, I love your blog. Thanks to you I now have a small pantry supply as well as water and torches etc if we were to ever lose power for a few days because of a big storm. I noticed you had not mentioned 'ripe near me' and thought you would love it. I'm in Sydney which has quite a bit listed but I have not actually gone and used it yet. I can see Adelaide has many listing of free fruit, veg, herbs which people are giving away for free. I could also see a few listings of produce to pick in public spaces. So many possibilities for taking excess produce off people's hands that is just going to end up in the bin or possibly meeting nearby people that you could swap different produce with.

  10. Wow that ant home/castle is incredible! They are such hard workers, and look what they achieve. I think we could learn a lot from these simple creatures.

    The magnolias are so pretty Annabel. I wonder if they are tough enough to live here. I am planning a new garden area, and looking for ideas of what I could plant. I am definitely going to plant roses, after seeing so many pretty ones on blogs like yours.

    Thank you for sharing Vicky's wisdom, posts like this inspire me to keep on adding and organising my pantry.


    1. Dear Tania,
      I agree about the ants, totally amazing! So thats us lol working away!
      I am not sure about Magnolia's and climate... but roses are tough, once established anyway. The are amazingly hardy. I love them as you no doubt have worked out!
      I am working away on my rose tutorial too... slowly!
      Lots of love,

  11. Annabel, such a great post and so many great comments. I consider building, using and maintaining a well-stocked pantry my full time job and take it very seriously. Our pantry has seen us through several hardships and saved us lots of money. It's a form of insurance of sorts!

    1. Dear Patsy,
      I have always felt that doing well at home is my job. Well, since the girls were little. No one could ever understand I felt it was my work and treated it as such. And was always busy! How do people get bored Ill never know as there are never enough hours in the day! But it is worth it and the best job ever!
      I think the fact that you have been through hardships makes you a good teacher... you know what you are talking about and have been there. With love and thanks,

  12. Annabel,
    Thank you for including me! I love magnolias! We have had little trees growing amongst the pines up by front deck. I told my husband to dig them out and he didn't do it well here they are mulberries! And it was funny because my son, his wife and kids were he and we were picking cherries off the tree for my granddaughter and my son said you know what I want, mulberries. I took them out front and said here you go! We couldn't pick them fast enough! He asked how they got there I said I guess the birds must have pooped seeds and they sprouted! And did you know you can make pine needle tea? Yep you steep pine needles and they are high in vitamin c. It is on my list of things to try. I am trying to learn the edibles on my property "just in case"
    My son and his wife have a hard time with the kiddos at the grocery store and I told him well just don't take them. They have enough of us to watch them that they can go and shop in peace. I told him if they throw a fit just tell them they would be invited to go again when they behave. I will take the oldest granddaughter I cut out the sale items I am going to get and glue them on paper and have her look for those items.

    1. Vicky I didn't have the option of leaving our two with anyone other than my husband so had to follow through when I said something.

      Not being a shopper it was easy enough for me to tell them if they misbehaved then we would go home - yes they tested what I said once - boy were they upset when we were heading home - never did it again.

      As for grocery shopping I just felt that I would rather spend time with the children rather than drag them to the shops - time is far too short when they are little.

      I like the idea of giving your granddaughter the task for finding some of the items you are looking for - another learning experience for her.


    2. Dear Vicky,
      Teaching the little ones to be good shoppers is a great thing. It is a skill after all and they like to be helpful.
      Thank you for such a great contribution to this post! It was so helpful!
      With many thanks,

  13. Annabel, another wonderful, informative post! Wow! Those magnolias are just beautiful! Pink, how lovely!! Ants sure work hard.

    Thank you for sharing Vicky's story. I really agree with Kathy's comment about being prepared is just "sensible". I've had so many people in the past ask me why in the world would I want to can 50 quarts of tomatoes in one day (yes this is extreme and most of my batches are smaller these days), but when our kids were home we used them all winter for our meals and if I didn't have a meal planned, I just grabbed a jar of tomatoes and made a simple dinner. Beats running to the store or take out, especially when that was miles away.

    I've been making jam this week to add to our pantry/gift giving. Making gifts is helping me so that I can add essentials to my pantry. Even adding one or two extra items each time we shop really adds up!

    Have a good week! Love, Teri

    1. Dear Teri,
      I love making jam! It is so useful in so many recipes (apart from on top of toast, muffins, pancakes etc) and is so pretty for gifts. I think seeing jars lined up full and ready is the nicest thing!
      Also I love you are making gifts! It is a huge saving, lovely and helps in other areas, as you say.
      The week has been good so far! Lots of love,

  14. Wow! That ant video was amazing! The magnolias are lovely. The ones I have seen have been a bit different and were white. Thanks again for useful tips and encouragement!
    My pantry building has been bits and pieces--a couple cans of chicken, a few packages of cheese, 2 tubes of toothpaste, 2 jars of peanut butter and some other things from the store. Food and litter for just the cost of tax for our kitties. I also made a crockpot of soup and a big pan of chicken enchiladas, part of which is individually wrapped and in the freezer. We picked up fresh peaches for a good price and I made reduced sugar jam with some of them.
    I have been working on eating from the freezer to keep things rotated and make room to add some of the summer produce. It does help with the grocery expenses, too. My daughter and I have been more faithful in meal planning, as well, which helps ensure food doesn't get wasted. I enjoy cooking and baking and feel it is an important responsibility along with stretching the money as much as I can and having a well-stocked pantry.
    Have a wonderful week. I look forward to your posts and the comments! Elaine

    1. Dear Elaine,
      Not wasting food, keeping track of things, adding a little bit to the pantry at a time... they all add up so much! Well done on all your beautiful cooking and blessing your family this way.
      Thank you so much for your kind comments! With love,

  15. Dear Annabel-

    Thank you so very much for your preparedness posts. They have been very motivating as I've not been as diligent with this area of late. I think we all need a shot in the arm once in awhile in every area of our homemaking.

    I can't wait to share the cheesecake recipe with my daughter. Also please thank Teri for me as she guides us in dehydrating.

    We found chanterelle mushrooms in our woods because we've had an unusual amount of rain. So lovely how God provides!


    1. Dear Leslie,
      Thank you! A little bit of encouragement goes a long way. We all need it. I certainly do!
      How wonderful to find the mushrooms... and they dry well too if you cannot use them all at once.
      I hope you enjoy the cheesecake! With love

  16. When people would seem like they thought that my being home was not a real job..I knew different. I knew I was in charge of protecting our home from harm by being home. To use my husband's very hard earned pay to the best of my ability. Learning more by reading and studying through the years to do even better. To help him in anything he needed help in and support him in all his endeavors. I knew I was to raise our children not only in the abcs but into being good citizens of their country and the world. To love God and what that meant and teach them to love others. I know there are many more things but in general I think all of us take being home seriously. I would do it again given the chance. I can't say I loved every single minute of it. Then who does love every minute of their lives. In general I feel i had the best life. :-)
    I love coming here and learn something every time. I think too that learning how to use those bibs and bobs that are leftovers to create another meal is a challenge but fun. Planning to not have leftovers is also good as we learn how much our own personal family really eats. Even planning sometimes For leftovers that will be used in another planned for meal. Saving the cooking time by doing that. As you said it is a lot of time the little things that add up. All in all though rotating and learning what to keep and how much of each is money saving. It does you no good to have too much canned tomatoes sauce that some goes bad but not have enough canned corn. :) Ask me how I know this!! lol As I said it is a long time learning curve and you never stop learning. that is part of the fun!
    I always look at pantry and such as not just saving money but like a game where I am using strategy to in the end win enough food and supplies that we can relax and enjoy our lives in health. In other words I try not to stress out about it. Slow and steady will work if you start Now and work onwards. You need to start though and have a plan and watch the grocery ads and look around in stores. Not buying things your family will not eat..but also keeping a few goodies for treats when times are tough. Seems like you are learning this and much more. Thanks agin for all th work you do here. Sarah

    1. Dear Sarah,
      Thank you! What a beautiful comment. I agree with you so much. You have said it wonderfully. By being at home we are protectors. And to make a set amount of money go as far as possible, well, there is a lot to that. One of the saddest things to me is a man who works very hard and the money just evaporates and is never enough. That is so sad. It is true sometimes maybe it is not enough money but it should never be wasted! That is just an insult to a persons hard work!
      There are so many things we can do everyday to build up our homes! Thank you Sarah! I really appreciate your comment! Love


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