Pantry Challenge 2021

Last January I joined Jessica @threerivershomestead in her pantry challenge. My goal was to reduce our dependence on grocery stores, to use what we had stocked up already, and to order everything we needed from @azurestandard and @imperfectfoods . I’m so, so thankful that I started off the year that way, since it meant that we headed into lockdown with plans already in place. Over the rest of the year, I continued to order most of our groceries, as well as growing and preserving more food than I ever have before. I did make a few shopping trips to Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Fred Meyer, but far fewer than usual; and I found myself buying mostly “treats” and indulgence foods rather than staples.

So, here we go again! The challenge officially starts in January, but I’m actually starting now because I have no plans to go to grocery stores for anything but Christmas baking ingredients (and I don’t expect to need much, as I’m well stocked). I’ll continue to visit our neighbors for our weekly two gallons of raw cow’s milk; and I’ll put in my Azure orders as usual, because I don’t think this is a good time to run out of things–not to mention the fact that it causes me extreme anxiety. Life in our area is uncertain enough at the best of times, and I sleep better at night knowing that we can feed our family through floods, blizzards, and power outages.

However, I’ll be pausing my Imperfect account soon, since I use it mostly for fruit, fish, pork products, and treats. So through January and hopefully February, we will be eating the food that we have processed and stored for the winter. Our freezers are full of lamb, chicken, vegetables, and berries; our pantry shelves are stocked with jam, pickles, tomato sauce, and salsa; and my dry goods buckets are stacked high, storing flour, sugar, salt, oats, beans, and rice. If I run out of convenience foods like crackers or tortillas, we’ll make them from scratch. My little fruit gobblers will have to be satisfied with dried fruit, applesauce, and smoothies made with frozen berries. We’ll eat our way through the piles of winter squash, beets, potatoes, and carrots, supplementing with sprouts (and maybe arugula if I can manage to grow some in the house).

The pantry challenge was one of the best things I did in 2020, and I hope you’ll join in this time. The craziness isn’t over, folks–and there’s nothing more practical you can do than take control of your food supply and storage. Even if you live in a tiny apartment with no storage space, take this opportunity to learn how to bake bread. Even if your budget allows for no wiggle room, take this opportunity to learn how to cook dried beans. Sprout seeds. Grow herbs on your windowsill. Buy an extra can or box or bag every time you shop. Look at your situation and figure out what you can do to make it more secure, and sleep better at night.

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