We have had enough meat (see more comments on that below), enough milk, (important for our 21 month old daughter), and lots of frozen bananas (for smoothies). We also usually store large quantities of frozen grated cheese, yeast, and butter. Because of this recent experience, I have made filling my freezer a big priority.
Things we missed having in the pantry:
- Eggs: We have chickens, but they are not yet quite old enough to be laying. Luckily eggs are cheap, so we could scrape together some change to get a dozen. I think I will look into purchasing powdered eggs as an emergency supply.
- WHEAT: I didn't keep good track of our supply of wheat, so we got really low. Luckily we had enough, but it was too close this last time. There are local, as well as online sources for purchasing 25 lb. sacks of wheat. (We can even buy some through our church.)
- Yeast: I always figured I could just make our own bread, but that's kind of hard to do without yeast! We used to have a large amount that we bought from Sam's Club, but we gave it all away during a recent move.
- Popcorn Seeds: I wish we had stored more popcorn and butter and salt. Popcorn is an easy and inexpensive snack that would have been comforting to have around. We DO have an air popper, and I'm very grateful for it. I would highly recommend every home have one for emergencies. Homemade popcorn has less additives and preservatives in it than microwaveable popcorn, also.
- Canned Goods: Tuna, refried beans, green chilies, tomato sauce, cream of chicken soup, and canned fruits, would have been great to have in our supply.
- Coconut Oil: My generous aunt gave us a restaurant-sized bucket of coconut oil a while back. We have not had to worry about oil at all.
- Peanut Butter: I have been substituting PB in all my baking recipes that have called for butter. For example, one son had a birthday during this difficult time, so he got peanut butter frosting on his cake. (I will share my Peanut Butter Muffin recipe in a new post.)
- Rice: We usually keep pretty well-stocked up on brown rice. (It keeps longer in the freezer than in the pantry.) We buy a lovely Basmati rice from Trader Joe's.
- Chicken and Beef Boullion: Usually, we like to make our own yummy chicken stock and freeze it, but when we ran out, the boullion helped a lot. Soup can easily fill hungry bellies!
- A Good Wheat Grinder: Wheat stores much better, and stays fresh and healthy much longer than flour does. We have a K-Tec kitchen mill, and it works wonderfully, even after nine years of almost-daily use.
- Milk: We freeze gallons or half-gallons of milk when it comes on sale. We just remember to pour a bit off the top of each gallon before freezing, so when the jugs expand as they freeze, they will not split open. (Set the frozen jugs in a sink full of water the night before you want to use the milk.)
- Sour Cream: The week before our reduced grocery supply, my husband had found sour cream on a really good sale, and bough several cartons. We had very little milk during this difficult week, yet I needed to supplement the kids diet of baked breakfasts with some fat. Smoothies were the answer! In my recipe, I used half milk and half water, and then added 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sour cream to the blender, as well. Blend in a teaspoon of vanilla and some frozen bananas, and "viola!"-- yummy smoothies! (Shhh! Don't tell the kids they were made with sour cream!)
- Frozen Fruit: When fruit is on sale, we buy a large amount, but sometimes a few pieces get over-ripe. That's when we cut them up and freeze them. This is especially great to do with over-ripe bananas that the kids don't want to eat. We peel them, cut them in half, and put them in freezer zipper bags. They keep for a very long time, and make throwing together smoothies a snap.
- Mapleine: We have been making our own syrup for pancakes with sugar, water, and Mapleine, and while I know the real thing is vastly better for us (and more preferable), we can still have pancakes and waffles when times are tight, and the children will eat them! Mapleine will now be an important part of our food storage.
- Sugar: I am normally not a fan of sugar, but I have been thankful for our large emergency supply. We ran out of honey early on, and I've been grateful to bake some comfort foods for my hungry family. It's cheap and easy to find. Now I know to add much more honey to our inventory.
- Dried Beans: I have become better about using our supply of dried beans, rather than relying on canned ones. Luckily, we stored many of these.
- Frozen Meat: Anytime meat was on sale, we bought some, even though it wasn't on the menu. We have had some protein daily, which helped balance out all the carbohydrates we were eating. The only meat we ran out of was bacon. Usually we store extra packages in our freezer.
- Bacon grease: Saving the grease after frying bacon has become a habit that has been beneficial to my cooking. First of all, it tastes great for sauteeing onions and garlic or for cooking eggs or meat. Secondly, using the grease left over after the bacon is cooked is a frugal way to prevent waste.