Growing up we lived an hour away from any major grocery stores. In the winter, floods or heavy snow could prevent us from traveling far. We also could be without power for up to 3 days depending on the weather. I learned early on that keeping a well stocked pantry is a big help. We never had to worry about running out of the basics if the weather got bad.
As I got older, I found this to be of an even further advantage. When the 9-11 attacks happened, (I was still married my ex husband was in the Navy) we were living on a military base that went on lockdown. No one in, no one out. That meant no grocery store for a couple of days. Our friends/neighbors used to giggle at the fact that I had 10 bottles of ketchup in my pantry, until that week. Several times over those next few days neighbors came to borrow items that they had run out of, again the stocked pantry was a big help.
One never knows when unexpected expenses might come up, or illness that prevents a person from getting to the store etc. I feel great comfort in knowing I have a stocked pantry and get somewhat of a sense of panic when I don't. Over the past few years we have lived in an apartment, which as most don't, did not have much pantry storage. I used a hallway closet which was intended for linens to store my pantry items.
When we moved into this house last summer, one of my FAVORITE things is the large amount of shelving in the basement. One half of the basement is an old canning cellar with extra storage as well. I knew right then that I was going to rebuild my pantry.
Building a pantry takes time, unless you have a large chunk of cash sitting around to dump into it. Which, I did not. Over the past few months I have stocked up on things we use when they are on sale. This has slowly built up my pantry. It is no where near what I want the final product to be but its slowly getting there.
Pretty much everyone can build up food storage or a pantry. You don't need a large amount of space or money. Some tips I have collected over the years:
1. Be creative with space. Under beds, shelves in a basement or garage or a small hall closet all work as great pantry storage spaces. I have heard several people mention building small shelved areas under staircases which is usually wasted space!
2. It doesn't take alot of $. Set aside an extra $5 when you grocery shop just for stock up. For example: this past week with store sales for $5 I could add 4 spaghetti sauce, 4 pasta, 4 spaghettios to my pantry with store sales.
3. Don't get discouraged. It takes time and patience. Its not going to get to be full overnight.
4. Search the internet. There are GREAT food storage and pantry building tips and websites out there. Look to see what others have done!
Here are a few pictures of my current pantry. I look forward to filling part of this with home canned foods this summer as well!