One thing about any kitchen that works, is that if you look closely, it’s the details that count. Many say it’s the quality of the ingredients. It’s the type of pans. It’s the great knives. To a degree, this is true about anything. The carpenter says it’s all in the wood, the mechanic says it’s all in the tools and so on.
What makes an emergency pantry work is the same thing…an inventory. Labeling of product. What you store it in. How you store it. I don’t have an exact inventory (yet), but I do pay attention to labels and how my product is stored. I look at what works and use that…this year, dehydrating worked well.
Do you can stuff? Dehydrate stuff? Buy regular stuff and just put it on the shelf? Well, I find that the old saying about “not putting your eggs in one basket” is a good one in this case. Here are some pro’s and con’s about each method of food storage for you to check out.
Shelf Storage: just putting things on the shelf until you need it.
Pros: it’s quick and easy. You can see what you have and replace it as needed. You need no other equipment or supplies.
Cons: limits shelf life, limits amount you can safely keep. May get bugs or go
stale. Works best for apartment living and for storing 2-6 weeks worth
Bucket/Tub Storage: putting your food into buckets or tubs.
Pros: You can keep food relatively safe from moisture and insects. By adding
vacuum sealing and/or Mylar to this, you can safely store food for years.
Cons: This takes an investment in time, space and equipment. You will need to
actually think beyond “picking up a couple extra boxes of pasta”.
Canning: This would include both water bath and pressure canning.
Pros: This is a method of preserving food that keeps it safely usable for a
couple of years. It’s a time tested method and your food is similar in
taste and texture to what you are used to eating. It can be easily learned
and done in any home.
Cons: It takes time and energy to do this method. It also takes specialized
equipment and you will need to collect good jars and lids. you do need to
learn how, following specific instructions. Jars eventually will take up
space and they have to be protected from freezing and breaking.
Dehydrating: This is drying of all sorts of foods, using any method that is your
Pros:Once you learn how to do it and make meals with it, you will love this. You
prepare the product, stick it in a dehydrator and bag it up. It simplifies
harvest time, giving you time to do more. The storage is simple, taking up
much less space than other methods and the finished product can handle much
more variations of temperature. Finished product can also last for 10 years
Cons:This does take some experimenting, as you can’t just throw an apple on the
tray. You also can’t dehydrate everything…meat is questionable. You need
to label things better and have either Mylar or a vacuum sealer to store it
Buying Ready Made: There are many companies who sell complete set ups (or portions
of) ready packaged meals, grains, dairy, vegetables and fruits.
Pros: easy to order, easy to store, fairly easy to use. The shelf life on these
products is very long and the packaging is very well done.
Cons: EXPENSIVE!!!! They also are foods that many times, you don’t normally eat
and may not know how to prepare. They also usually come in #10 cans and once
opened the shelf life deteriorates quickly. You may not like the flavor, as
freeze dried meats and other items can have a different taste. In getting
a “package deal”, you may not care for some of the varieties (ex:beets or red
beans). I have also found that what might be a “years worth of food” to the
supplier, won’t be a years worth of food to you. Some “deals” plan for 2000
calories per day while others work out to as little as 200 calories! One must
do their research, and as with any convenience product, there is an expense
As always, I welcome comments and additions to my ideas !