When I was a child, my father (single parent to five kids) kept an incredibly well stocked pantry. It wasn’t a “plan for a big emergency” pantry. It was the way people used to manage groceries. Keep more on hand than you need in case. In case of what didn’t really matter. It wasn’t all about gloom and doom. It was comforting. It was normal. You always knew you had food, and what you had. As a kid, I always knew we didn’t have a lot of money, but it never, ever felt like we didn’t have enough food. I am amazed now looking back at how my dad managed it, but he did.
After I got married, I never managed to keep on hand what we needed. Part of that was the newlywed phase of “I don’t really know what we are going to be eating every day” thing. But after 15 year, I don’t think you can claim newlywed anything. So I, or rather we, decided that I needed to do a better job of buying a little extra (despite my cheapness, as mentioned in previous posts). I began the simple task of buying one or two more of long term storage items than I need and one extra on perishables if it would last until it was used (I
have had a bad habit of running out of creamer 2 days before grocery day). Little by little I began to get a better stock of items.
I began to see why my dad did this. Just in case finally made sense. Just in case their is a flood and you can’t get out (happens quite a lot around here). Just in case the van breaks down and I can’t run to town tomorrow. Just in case money is a little short next week. Just in case my husband looses his job. Man, there are a lot of cases to be preparing for!
After a while, my pantry (such a blessing to have a 10×4 walk in pantry) was unmanageable. I couldn’t find anything. Now, this is not do solely, or even largely, to my preparedness (or “prepping”). This was due to my lack of ability to organize, tidy or clean anything. But, even at that, when my pantry was clean it still seemed over stuffed. After all, not only does it house food, but the occasional tool and/or ammo related item does tend to find residence there.
When a good friend announced that the retail store at which he works is going out of business and selling fixtures, our collective lightbulbs came on! Metal shelving from a store would make a great way to add storage! Brilliant! Cheap, movable, cheap, sturdy, cheap, and did I mention cheap?
Well, as projects do around here, this one became not so much a weekend revamp as a month long (not so cheap) remodel. I don’t think I will record here all the details as to what all ended up happening and changing.
Notice the hideous shag orange and nasty colored carpet. My one request in the ever evolving plan was that the nasty carpet disappear. As you can see we had shelves down both walls, but they were narrow and spaced such that there was a lot of gap where I could have had more shelves with food rather than empty wall space.
We left the wall on the right empty and placed double the number of (deeper) shelves along the wall on the left. We then added shelves along the back wall. In this picture you can see that we had run out of the size used on the back and still need to add the extra. Even with removing the shelving from one side, we were able to increase the storage quite a bit with the addition of wider, more closely mounted shelves. The bottom shelves were spaced high enough to allow 5 gallon bucket storage for long term food storage.
The hideous carpet is gone, with plans for tile when the funds are available. The empty wall now has a place to store the step stool, a hanging rack (out of view) for brooms and mops and room for the vacuum. The far back corner will eventually have a custom built shelf for the ammo that is stacked there.
We also greatly increased the light by adding a long florescent light instead of a small incandescent bulb. The light had been on the same switch as the hallway light, which gets left on most of the day. My husband put the light on its own switch and installed a motion detector switch that turns off after 5 minutes so the pantry light won’t be left on unknown all day!
There is a lot of information out there on prepping, disaster preparedness, long term food storage. I am sharing this as encouragement. Whatever your “just in case” may be, there are easy ways to begin your prepping journey. It doesn’t have to consume your life. It may take some adjustments, such as my added pantry shelving, but it doesn’t have to look like the shows you see with rooms and rooms of stores. Start where you are, make adjustments as you go. Begin small and add as you can. Determine your needs and what “cases” you are planning for and start. It will get less scary and easier as you go!
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