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         Tips on keeping a well stocked Pantry and Master shopping list

A well stocked and well thought out pantry saves much time and money by avoiding needless trips to the grocery store and "double purchasing" unnecessary items. Also, you will be able to offer something to someone, contribute a dish or bake something at a moment’s notice. A well stocked pantry takes time to set up and a little thought to maintain... but with a list and a good plan you ought not have any trouble with this. If you already do this, you already know how beneficial it is! The whole purpose to all of this is to be better prepared to serve as the LORD calls us to.

Just like you have areas in your home ---especially kitchen--- that are devoted to specific tasks, so also the pantry will have areas designated to certain foods/ingredients/mixes etc. Stocking these Items should enable you to make almost any meal, dessert, or gift from your kitchen at anytime or most times so that you don’t need to make unnecessary trips to the store. Once your personalize this list to *your* needs, the list can be posted in your cabinet and referred to when you are making your weekly/monthly grocery list.

If you start keeping a "Master Shopping List" then every time you go to make your general shopping list, you will have an idea of what you are low on, what you do or do not need to buy. If you "date" items (write right on the container) when you open them, then over time, you will have an idea as to how long an item lasts in your home. For example, you may open a big new $15. roll of foil in January and when it runs out in June, you will know that you will be likely be buying it again at the end of the year... it will give you an idea of when some bigger purchases will be made. Or, you will have an idea how to budget each month so that you will not have such a big fluctuation in your food budget.

Here’s another idea... hopefully this method will be helpful to you. Here’s what you do... you have *your own* master pantry list...(save it on your computer for easy revision and printing) and you save your grocery receipts (if they itemize the purchases by name) for a few months and see the pattern of your purchases and usage. (this will encompass *more* than the kitchen---and will give you an idea of the actual usage of everything in your home. You compare what you have on hand with what you *really* use... this then becomes the framework of your personal master list. Then, if you feel like taking the time to do so---and this would take a commitment to pay attention to details---this would be a one time whole list preparation. You would then have your household master grocery list and you would have a fairly good idea of the actual grocery needs/budget. You could print up your list and use it when you shop by simply going through and circling the needed items. See how easy?!?! Most of us say we spend a certain amount for groceries each week/month, when, in reality sometimes we spend more or less... we are buying household items or are not actually having to replace the whole pantry every time and therefore part of our weekly use is what we already have on hand.

Why is knowing this information important? Well, for one, we can be better stewards of what the LORD provides us, and we can better gauge when the "big shopping" trips will be necessary and how to better budget for those times. I share this with you because, for example, we have beef in the freezer right now and so for the next several months I will not be purchasing the beef from the grocer---but! if I do not remember to plan ahead for the future, I will be surprised at the great expense of meat when I need to be buying meat again. This is true for anything one might have in great abundance on the pantry shelves or freezer.

I’d like to share with you one more thing that will help you in your serving... a very popular homemaking idea is to do what is commonly referred to as "Once a Month Cooking" or "Dinner’s in the Freezer" cooking. You may be overwhelmed by the concept or have heard of it so often but have never yet made an attempt to do it. OR, you have done it once and it was so overwhelming, that you decided you would do it again: NEVER.

Well, may I share with you a couple of ways of getting around the overwhelming task of cooking thirty meals? You can start very slowly... here’s what I began to do a long time ago, long before I heard about thirty meal or volume cooking... and it was this: whenever you make a casserole, spaghetti, lasagna, soup, cook chicken or fry ground beef---just do double... that’s easy and not initially so expensive as thirty meals... and the ease of making extra becomes more comfortable each time you do it. Then, in time, you may want to make three of something... Or, you may want to buy 20 lbs of extra lean ground beef and cook it all up with several diced onions and then ziplock freezer bag it into portions your family will use at a meal... this will enable you to make many things without the mess of frying the beef for the preparation of tacos, taco salad or soup, spaghetti or whatever other ways your family uses ground beef. See how easy it is? You can do this with chicken, too... cook it up, let it cool a bit and chop it and then portion it out into bags and freeze.  Important hint:  Be sure to label your freezer bags... contrary to what you might think, you will forget what is in freezer bags if you don't label them.  Cooked pintos look like ground beef and tomato sauce with meat looks just like sloppy joe sauce and cooked ground beef and ground chicken are indistinguishable when frozen.

You will find that doing this, using your appliances... freezer, crockpot/slowcooker will really free you up. These are the tasks for your maidens---your maidens are your appliances, and with a little investment on your part, they can do the rest of the job for you!

May the LORD continue to bless you as you endeavor to love and serve Him.

pamela spurling ~ A Christian Home ~ The Welcome Home ~ 2001

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