The Importance of a Pantry

Journey to Homemaker

I'm interrupting my series on modesty to bring you this important message... :-)

It occurred to me that this is a good time to bring up the importance of having a fully stocked kitchen, or better yet, a whole pantry. When Y2K was on the horizon, many people who wouldn't normally stock up food spent a lot of time and money becoming prepared for "the end of the world as we know it". Then when Y2K was a bust, they either ate up their food, gave it away, or let it sit unused to gather dust. What they didn't think about was the every day emergencies that even the most financially sound among us can experience.

It is said that most Americans are only two paychecks away from poverty, and perhaps even homelessness. For those with an available credit line, you may be able to get by for a few months more. There are so many instances where a pantry can become invaluable to the survival of the family...or at the very least, make hard times a little easier. Just think about hurricane Katrina. Many people's homes were wiped out near the coast, and a pantry in that situation might not have helped them immediately, but think of all the thousands of other homes along the coastal states that were in part or in whole, spared. They were stuck there with local supplies low, no supply trucks getting in for a long time, and the supplies that did get in went to the neediest families. If they were in an area with long-term blackouts, credit cards and checks did them no good. Only the cash they had on hand would help them, and chances are there were a lot of gougers out there profitting from the pain of others. The people who were prepared probably didn't suffer nearly as badly. They had plenty of food and water, and if they were smart, a generator and fuel, and other basic necessities. For those who weathered Katrina's aftermath rather well due to their preparedness, I'm sure some of them used their surplus food supply to help others in need.

There are many other emergencies to consider. The family breadwinner dying or becoming incapacitated. Life insurance and disability insurance helps, but most Americans are way under-insured...and how quickly will that money come in? Having basic necessities on hand gives a family time to get their resources together and find a solution. There is a lot of talk nowadays about the bird flu. I don't know if it's something to really worry about or not, but I've heard "experts" say that if it did happen, it would be catastrophic, and world-wide. There would be no other states to send relief, as they would be in the midst of chaos themselves. No one would want to go outdoors or travel for fear of contracting the lethal virus, and the supply chain would come to a standstill. What then?

I know first-hand how important a pantry can be. In the past four and a half years that my husband and I have been married, he had a few bouts of unemployment (we had moved to a very family-friendly area, and shortly afterwards the job market dried up). When he did get a job, we were so far in the hole financially that it took a long time to even begin to dig ourselves out. During those hard times, we had to depend on a local food bank for help. It was very hard, because my husband felt like he'd failed us, and I felt bad going to the food bank because I kept thinking that maybe I was taking food away from people who were even worse off than we were. But we really did need it. When we had more money, we started our food pantry. When another hard time hit, it was much better--the extra food saw us through. Instead of trying to figure out how to buy food and pay for gas (very necessary so my husband could get to work), we were able to get by, because all the money went in the gas tank.

Right now money is pretty tight. We're getting ready for the baby, and there's so much we need (we stupidly sold a lot before our last move, because a lot of it was second hand anyway). Plus me and my "pregnancy brain" forgot to pay some bills, so now we're behind...and since I read Fascinating Womanhood, luckily I don't have to worry about the bills anymore, because I turned that over to my husband. We paid our rent this week, and that used most of it up. It's been very stressful trying to figure out how to get gas in the tank and keep food on the table. We do have enough food, but you know how it is when you run're always missing something needed for every recipe!! So it's an exercise in frustration trying to put a meal together. Luckily we do have baking supplies, and I hit a sale a few weeks ago on chicken--one pound of thighs for a dollar!!!! I stocked up on chicken, though not as much as I'd have liked, only 10 packs freezer space. :-( I'd be a lot better off if I hadn't let the kitchen become a disaster area. Dirty kitchen=no desire to cook!

What I wouldn't give for a pantry right now! I told my husband as soon as we catch up, we're stocking up! I think a lack of food in the house is particularly hard for the wife, because she's the one who has to put the meals together, and worries about it. And if she lets herself express frustration (which I admit to doing this week, I'm afraid) it can make the husband feel that she's criticizing him.

In the future, I'll try to post more about a pantry and what should be in it. In the meantime there are plenty of websites on the web with this kind of info.

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