Thursday, May 21, 2020

Pantry Stocking on a Budget

Right out the gate, I will ask your forgiveness 
as I might get a little overzealous about the pantry.
I think a well stocked pantry is a thing of beauty.
(My Pantry)
We've all seen or at very least heard about
the recent "shortages" in stores due to panic shopping.
We had no such panic at our house,
but there might have been a little grumpiness 
when I couldn't find a bag of spuds,
not realizing that folks were going nuts.
I told hubby, it was actually a sad state.
Most people eat out and are away from home most of the day.
Home has become little more than a parking spot
and place to shower and sleep.
Upon hearing the news that they might have to stay home
for two straight weeks,
with no knowledge of what would be required,
they went shopping.
I've heard of some folks buying things based on expiration date,
some buying what was left on the shelf,
some filling a cart, and so forth.
None of these are sensible ways to stock a pantry.
There are a number of ways to sensibly go about it,
and I will offer some of those methods here.
Take as much or as little of the information as you like.

The very first thing to know is what you need.
Make a list of the things you use.
I find it helpful to categorize the items:
food, hygiene, pet supplies, auto, etc.
This is much like the departments in a store,
but it will be within your own home.
(I wouldn't be able to handle the disarray of this one;-))

Next, is to know about how much of each given item you need.
Yes, here is where the mountains of TP in the garage
makes the perfect example.
I understand not wanting to run out so in some ways
I don't blame the folks who "stocked up."
But the other side of that coin is "C'mon. Really?"
If you don't know how much of a product you use,
simply date it when you open or purchase it.
When you use the last of it, you will know that you use that amount
of that product in the time that has lapsed since opening it.
For things like canned goods, just date and number.
6/1/20 1/6 on the first can of the 6 cans of green beans purchased,
date and 2/6 on the second can, 3/6 on the third...
At the end of the week or month, you will know how many cans
were used in that time period.
Simply multiply that times 52 if weeks or 12 if months.
I know we go through about 40 jars of green beans per year
so I can plan accordingly.  
I try to have an idea of how much I use by year.
Some things are seasonal so really only get used a few months
out of the year, but I've found that "per year" works for me.
This also enables me to look for those items towards the end of the season
when they are more apt to be on sale.
The next piece of information necessary is a price.
This is something that can change of course,
but having a general idea of what is reasonable
will aid in budgeting.

And the final 2 pieces are:
 how much of each is already in the pantry?
what is my budget amount per month?
That last question is one that many might not know.
Much like how much TP is used in a week or month,
some folks don't track their spending.
Now is always a great time to start.
If you don't know how much you spend each month,
choose an amount you think is reasonable for your household.
Don't get too stuck on it at the moment.
There won't be a test, and you won't be graded.
It's almost as though folks don't want to try,
because they don't want to fail.
Learning is not failing~
it's a series of trials and errors and figuring out what works best
in any given situation.
What's best for me probably isn't best for you
and vice-versa.
Go easy on yourself and be okay with it being
a work in progress.
It's fun to see how it develops.
(Source)  Wow!

With the above knowledge,
we can begin to really put it together.

As you begin to look at what you have and what you need,
you will begin to see patterns.
You will make realizations.
And you will know what you need.
But for starters, if you've never stocked a pantry
and have a minimal supply,
the first thing to do is make a shopping list
for one week.
Try to think of what you will need for each day.
Consider what you have on hand
and what additional items will be needed.
Just as an example, let's use a budget of $500/mo.
That makes it $125 per week for groceries.
When you go shopping, if you only spend $100,
you have $25 left.
With that $25, you can begin "stocking up."
If there is a sale on something you use often,
you can purchase extra of those things.
If there is no great sale,
you might choose to buy an extra of a couple of the items
you are already buying,
or you might choose to keep it for the next week
and watch for sales.
One other thing to keep in mind is that 
most items are cheaper when purchased in bulk.
If you don't spend all of your weekly funds,
you might look into purchasing a larger quantity
of often used items.
By doing so, over time and without a shock to the budget,
you will create a store of items you use.
A bulk example:
We actually purchase a whole grass fed beef each year.
We pay roughly $3/lb. (varies slightly by year.)
That's a reasonable price for hamburger, but we get steaks
and roasts and all for that same price.
That is a considerable savings over store prices.
(My Pantry - pints two high)
Once your store is created, you will want to make sure 
you rotate things to keep the oldest up front.
In my pantry, I have foods stored 3 deep which makes it 
pretty easy to pull the oldest to the front and put fresh behind.
My shelves are 11.5" deep and 10" space between them.
This also works nicely to stack cans (or pint jars) two high.
I don't like to stack things more than 2 high 
with the exception of tomato sauce.
I am just clumsy enough to cause an avalanche.
This is another area that requires pantries to be personal.
We each have a different space to use for storage within our homes.
The space I have now, I actually love
due to the fact that it's better than what I've had in the past.
But it is also behind the refrigerator, so it can be warm in there.
That's not ideal since I can't keep things like spuds or squash
or other fresh veggies in there, but I am still appreciative of the space.

You will find the same method for such items as
oil, filters, and fluids for the car, or
laundry supplies, deodorant, and toothpaste for hygiene.
Just start with your "auto" budget per month
or your hygiene budget per month.

It doesn't happen all at once.
It's something that takes a little time to do wisely,
but you will have the peace of mind knowing you'll be okay
if something unforeseen presents itself.
If there is something I've completely missed,
or if you have a question,
give me a jingle - down in the comments.
If you have a tip that you find helpful,
go ahead and let us know in the comments.
I actually like when y'all offer input -
makes it all so much friendlier:-)

Also, I am working on a post in response to the questions posed
in this post.
 I've not forgotten, just need to have things in order
so that they can actually be of some help - hopefully:-)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Path to Yesterday

I've read that Tasha Tudor
had found the path to yesterday.
I love the imagery of that.
Just image if we could go wandering down a path
and end up in another time.
Sounds a bit fantastic, I know.
Rather like Alice in the Looking Glass and a rabbit hole.
But there's something more to it really.
It's not that far of a stretch once we are ready to see it.
And once we see it,
it's like opening a magic Wardrobe
and stepping inside to another world.
I'm not really throwing books at you:-)
I'm guessing with the mention of each of those tales,
a little spark of excitement and youth
fired up somewhere deep inside you.
As children, the thought of "roller skating" with scrub brushes
on your feet like Pippy scrubbing the floor/deck
 sounded like a brilliant alternative 
to the way we knew of hands and knees scrubbing.
Living in a tree-house or on a ship was a real possibility.
These stories strike a chord with us for a reason.
These adventures are taught to us as children,
but then somewhere along the way
we are told we shouldn't give them any thought.
((( Wham! )))
The door to that Secret Garden slammed closed
and no key to be found.
What is that and how do we not see it coming?
I am as clueless as you on that one.
I can't tell you when it happened,
but I grew up to 'want' certain things that were touted as 
cool or necessary or whatever.
And after school and work and career and dragging on 
and wanting and achieving and wanting more and. . . .
hang on a minute.
What is that?
I don't even like that.
I don't like how I feel.
That's not what I want.

What?  What's wrong with you?
Everybody wants the latest whatever.
It's progress, and progress is good.
What do you mean you don't even like it?
It's sooo cool!
And that's when it clicks - right then.
Nooo. . . not cool.
How did I get here?
How do I go back?
And so we begin looking.
Quietly at first,
until we find a little deer trail,
then a partially overgrown foot path,
then a real way.
And that's it.
The way.
It's the path to yesterday.
And that little bit of excitement that sparked above. . . 
when you remembered~
it comes alive and flares up.
And when you finally see the way,
you want to run like a happy 8 year old
back to where/when you know it was right
or at least better.
At first it's almost like fleeing from something.
But around every turn of the path
is magic and excitement
that feels good and healthy and alive.
And gradually that fleeing sensation subsides
and falls away to a seeking of a different something.
Just like each new page of the storybook,
each day is met with anticipation of possibilities.
It is a wellness.
And then, over time,
there is a peace,
a knowing.
The anxiety of being pulled along in the channel
with all the others is a dull ember
easily squelched.
That's what Tasha had,
the peace and knowing.
Only she didn't let herself be pulled into the channel
in the first place like most of us.
I think that's part of what was so admirable about her.
She was a flawed human like the rest of us,
but she knew the way.
She had found the path to yesterday.
I have a feeling she had also been down a rabbit hole,
beyond a wardrobe and up a tree.
So when that excitement sparks,
maybe don't try to squelch it.
Go ahead and let it flare up and see where it leads.
You just might end up in a fantastic place and time.
Just watch out crossing that channel.
It has a powerful undercurrent.