Four hundred and one variety...that is different/variety things not number of things.
In my pantry when fully stocked there is 20,852 items...not counting what is in the freezers.
With 80% being what I grow or buy at the cheapest price and process myself to keep it frugal.
Why? because I have went hungry as a child. I went hungry as an adult but I made sure my kids didn't and in 2007 I watched my Hubby worry there wouldn't be food on the table when he went to 3 days a week (company didn't lay off full time workers and kept them at 3 day which is equal to unemployment but gave them health ins that wouldn't be available if they had laid them off. Temporary workers were let go. We lost both the house we lived in and the one our one daughter lived in. Now we are looking at retirement, with health insurance going through the roof and not sure what income we will have after he retires and we pay for the insurance.He has been offered part time, seasonal work with a couple companies owned by our landlord's families. Landord has made it very clear he would work with us just to keep us here, would prefer for us to live here another 10 yrs or more.
My parents grew up during the Great Depression. Hubby's parents weren't born yet, his dad grew up on farm(cattle/pig and grain) and his mom's dad worked for the electric company. Hubby grew up farming and all grocery money and bill money was on the farm loan so it was more of will the crops pay of the loan and if not what's the interest to roll over to the next yr's loan.His mom did some gardening but enough to go year to year.
Daddy didn't know it was the Great Depression as he grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Everyone was poor and ate pretty the same thing. Milk (evaporated milk) gravy and bread or oatmeal for breakfast and bean soup and bread for lunch and supper. Spring brought sassafras tea and wild greens, summer brought fish and the gardens. If there was enough money after buying his mother's medication they got shells to hunt with.
Mother on the other hand, understood the difference. Her dad worked in lumber yard and rail road... and was without a job for 2 yrs. He refused to work the program that was offered and his family paid the price for his pride in the way of not having food or clothings at times. Mother finally got a job at the age of 10 working for a "junk man" cleaning up things for him. She made 5¢ a day that was spent on beans to feed her parents and siblings.
There was never enough grown in the gardens with how big the family was to put any up for winter.Daddy did know how to dry food on a tin roof covered to keep the animals off the food but there wasn't enough food to do it often. Mother was clueless.
As a child my parents had decided my older brother would not only graduate from high school(first of both their families) but go to college the day he was born. Good thing he wanted to go because both him and I know he would have went even if he didn't want to. Both did whatever work they could often working 2-3 jobs to make ends meet, money went to pay off the mortgage and put money aside for his college education. Dad grew a good size garden and started hunting. One neighbor taught Mother how to can corn, tomatoes and green beans. Another neighbor showed her how to make and can grape juice as we had a very small harbor of concord grapes. By this time Grandpa(Daddy's side as Mother's dad had died when they first bought the house) was raising chickens and potatoes along with a huge garden for himself and his daughter that remained as his care taker.Grandma died when Dad was 16) So we would get eggs once a month when we went to visit, sometimes a chicken that wasn't laying and old and in season we would get 100 lbs of potatoes when Daddy went to help dig potatoes with Grandpa. Grandpa had an acre planted of potatoes and that was how he made his money to pay his bills.I would pick up cans and pop bottles for Daddy to take into recycle to get money to go towards my brother's college fund. Many times food was on the slim side when the garden didn't produce or Dad didn't get anything when he went hunting or fishing. If soup was on the table I knew not to ask for more than what I was given which usually was a 8 oz cup.Most times it was a water based soup.
As an adult when my late husband died I went through a time, almost a year where I wasn't sure what I was going to put on the table. He didn't have medical insurance (heart attack, ambulance run, ER, doctors, tests) and no life insurance (funeral home, casket,open and closing of grave to be paid up front etc) and I had just left my part time job because it was costing us more for me to work with the kids in childcare than me to stay home. No income, didn't qualify for any assistance as it was based on what I WOULD get from SS survivor benefits that took 3 mos to get. Then I had to pay back the ones that lent me money to keep the home and bills paid. I made it Went from 130 to 75 lbs), kids never went hungry, though saw me count pennies many times for their lunch money (no help there and didn't qualify for health ins either) I sold everything I could that wouldn't affect my kids..The elderly neighbor gave me tomato plants to grow on my deck (lived in the city), my lawyer's secretary gave me corn and green beans. My Daddy brought me dried beans,potatoes, eggs and bar soap. Mother brought me ham, flour, sugar, yeast and toilet paper. I didn't have water in the kitchen but did upstairs. House was one step from being condemned when we bought it , he died 6 wks later. I finished bring it up before I remarried.It appraised for $120,000 right before we moved.
Ask my kids what meals they loved as a child...beef veggie soup and noodles with homemade bread...both dishes were served when I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for food. I was shocked it wasn't the beef roast that I used the scraps for the soup or the roasted chicken that made the noodles. They still ask me to can veggie soup for them for Christmas, noodles dried and given at Thanksgiving.
My answer to those times it to have a large pantry that will feed my family for 2 years. Have variety as I understood my parents for years struggled to eat and enjoy bean soup. And to try to make sure I have a variety to also meet nutritional needs I have with my Crohn's.
Right now I could go 19 months with the holes I have in the pantry...the holes are 192 varieties that either are low or gone completely. Those holes are the last 5 mos I want in the pantry by Dec 31st.
My goal for the next four months it so have enough cash to pay 6 mos bills ahead of time, enough in the pantry to go 2 yrs and household items(cleaners. softener salt etc) and personal items to go one year and OTC meds to go 6 months and all prescriptions filled as of Dec 31st.AND pray the car holds together until AFTER Hubby retires because he qualifies for $5000 reimbursement if he buys a car through the program. We plan to replace Hubby's truck the following year.
Hubby is trying to save his vacation to cash out to cover some of the Jan bills, (he will get one paycheck before he retires out)when he retires but I am not counting on that due to he takes vacation when I am in the hospital with Crohn's.
Off to make zucchini bread pancakes for supper.
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