Archive for March, 2016

Pantry Stock up

Homesteading is not just about growing a garden or raising livestock. It’s a whole mindset of having what you need to live a simpler more fulfilling life. Part of that more simple life, at least in my opinion, is to have what I need when I need it so I can 1) reduce the number of trips into town, and 2) reduce the amount of money I spend for so-called unexpected purchases. You know the one’s I’m talking about. That missing ingredient you need for a new recipe or not having enough of something you need to make a full meal. The primary place I put this thought into action is in the kitchen.

Although I raise livestock, have laying hens and have a garden, I still purchase some items from local stores. These are items that I either can’t or don’t grow myself. Things like oil and flour and spices. When you have a well-stocked pantry you have choices, choices about what to make for dinner, choices about cooking at home instead of picking up expensive take-out and choices about how to alter a recipe to fit what you have on hand. You even have the choice to hunker down at home when weather turns bad or illness strikes, making it hard to get to town.

With more and more people reclaiming the art of cooking from scratch to avoid processed foods or manage food allergies, and more people realizing the benefits of weathering a natural disaster at home, it has never been more important to create a stocked homestead pantry.

But, where do you start? Isn’t creating a stocked pantry challenging, time consuming and expensive?

NO! It’s not. And, in the end you will be able to look at your pantry with peace of mind, and choices.

Keep in mind, though, the list I’m providing isn’t your whole pantry, it will support the “whole foods” you raise, grow, preserve or buy from a farmer or CSA, foods like meat, dairy, fruits and veggies. Some of the items listed can be made at home, but I’m including them in consideration of people (like me) who do not always have time to make them from scratch. Pantry items are the components that will help you pull the whole meal together.

Many of these basics can be purchased in large quantities or in bulk so you never run out. Whether you buy in large or small quantities remember to keep track of your stock on hand so it can be replaced before you run out. I purchase multiples of some items, while others I stock up on when they are on sale. After the list I’ll give you pointers on how to fill your stocked pantry.

Wondering what the benefits are to having a well-stocked pantry? Here they are:

  • You cut down on buying expensive take out or fast food. Saving money and your health.
  • You can always make something. It may not be 5-star cuisine, but it will be warm and filling.
  • You have the opportunity to buy in bulk, saving money and creating a food safety net if a crisis keeps you at home for any length of time.
  • Your shopping trips become shorter because you’re list isn’t as long.
  • You can easily plan and cook meals knowing you have needed ingredients.
  • It just makes good sense.






Mustard – yellow, Dijon, Honey, and any other kind your family enjoys


Pickle Relish – if you don’t make your own

Did you know that with these ingredients you can make your own Thousand Island dressing?


Rice – white and brown, Jasmine, Basmati, Arborio

Barley – pearled

Oatmeal – old fashioned

Rice is the main character in many casseroles, while barley is great for making hearty soups.

Oatmeal, choke full of fruit and nuts makes an inexpensive stick to your ribs breakfast.

Pasta & Noodles – spaghetti, tube, macaroni, egg, and any others your family likes


Dried Beans – pinto, Great Northern, kidney

Lentils –yellow and brown

Split peas


Walnuts, pecans, almonds (slivered & sliced), sunflower seeds, peanuts, and any others your family likes.



Oil – olive, sesame, coconut

Bacon grease – strain and store bacon grease to use instead of oil.



All-Purpose Flour – White and whole wheat, if you don’t grind your own.

Bread Flour – White and whole wheat, if you don’t grind your own.

Corn Meal

Baking Power

Baking Soda


Powered Milk


Sugar – white, brown and confectioners

Honey – locally sourced, if possible


Maple Syrup


Salt – non-iodized, fine, sea, course, kosher

Pepper – black and white, or peppercorns for each and grind your own

Vinegar – white, cider, wine, Balsamic


Peanut Butter

Chocolate Chips or other cookie additions

Tea & Coffee

Dried Fruit – if you don’t dry your own

Herbs & Spices – buy from ethnic markets or the ethnic section of your grocery store where quantities are larger and prices are cheaper.


There you have it, the basic list for a well-stocked homestead pantry. Feel free to add any family favorites or items you use most often. Your pantry is the best place to start when creating your own list or adding to the one above. With these items always on hand you’ll be able to make any number of hearty wholesome dishes your family will love, without having to run to the store for last minute additions.

So—how do you go about stocking the pantry without breaking the bank?

You have a few choices here.

You can go ALL in and buy everything in one shopping trip if your food budget can handle it. Mine couldn’t, so I built the pantry over time. My first shopping trip was actually to price every item on my list. I compared prices at the stores I shop at most often—the ethnic market, Wal-Mart, Big Lots, Target and Smart & Final. Now I could group items depending on which were cheaper at what store. Cheaper can be deceiving, though. You’ll want to calculate the cost per ounce, or pound, to find out which store is REALLY the least expensive. (Use this formula to calculate the cost per unit: cost ÷ ounce or pound).

Over a few months I allotted a certain amount of money each week just for stock-up items. This also gave me the choice to buy larger quantities of certain items. Take white sugar for instance. I could spend a few dollars buying a one pound bag one week or I could wait and spend $3 to $4 and buy a 10-pound bag, which would last me much longer.

With the essentials taken care of more of your grocery money can be used to take advantage of sales on items that can be frozen, like meat and poultry, fruits and vegetables. Items you may not raise or grow yourself.

By having a well-stocked pantry (and freezer) I have been able to reduce my grocery shopping to just a few times a month, mainly filling in or buying sale items, and spending less than $20 each trip.


Final Words: I haven’t mentioned buying on-line or strictly buying organic and non-GMO items. It’s not that I don’t believe in these avenues, I just wanted to be more general. Each person can, and should, decide how best to feed their family.

How to Care for a Wooden Cutting Board

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Cutting Board

Cutting boards have been a kitchen necessity ever since the first lumberjack took a slice out of a felled tree. Today’s cutting boards are both utilitarian tools and works of art. Just look at the array of shapes and styles available—cows or pigs; ovals or rectangles with routered or carved decorative edges. They are worthy of being displayed right alongside other treasured pieces that adorn your kitchen.

Some people collect for sentimental reasons, some for artistic collections. No matter the reason, cutting boards are hard workers in the kitchen and should be cared for properly if they are to retain their beauty and their functionality. Following these four steps will keep your cutting board(s) both useful and beautiful.

  • Refrain from putting wooden cutting boards in the dishwasher. The heat can cause cracking of the wood.
  • Wash wooden cutting boards in warm soapy water after each use, and allow to air dry.
  • To keep your board fresh, sprinkle it with coarse salt then rub with a lemon cut in half. Rub in a circular motion to scour the board, then rinse in hot water and air dry to keep it smelling fresh.
  • To prevent the board from drying out and cracking, use a lint-free cloth dipped in mineral oil and rub well into the board. Reapply as the oil soaks in. When the oil stops absorbing, wipe the board clean and let sit overnight. Do not use food grade oils like olive or vegetable as they will turn rancid.

With these simple maintenance tips your cutting boards will last for years.