Pantry raid! How long could you hold out?
July 20th, 2011
11:00 AM ET
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Linda Petty is an editor at CNN Living. She liked boxed mixes, tarted-up vegetables, letting produce rot in her crisper and eating cold pizza at her desk for breakfast.

What’s behind that pantry door?

This week I will do my food shopping only at one very special place: my own pantry. Lord only knows what I will find in the back corners of the lowest and highest shelves. I expect to be eating some tuna salad from all those cans I bought when forecasters were predicting the last snow storm that brought Atlanta to a halt - which may give you some idea of the vintage of those items.

But that salad will also feature capers from the jar I found while I was hunting for some artichoke hearts, and maybe I will toss those 'chokes in another salad later in the week. I could also have some salmon croquettes, now that I unearthed the canned salmon I bought because it was good for my heart. That way I can also put some of the half a bag of flour to use before it goes bad.

And there is the soup I added to my shopping cart during cold and flu season. Or maybe several kinds of soup (remember those corners). They will go nicely with the grilled cheese sandwiches I can make from the ends of the frozen bread that play hide-and-seek in my freezer.

While hunting said bread, I also found some frozen tortellini that will go well with the jars of pasta sauce that I dug out of the pantry. But some of the pasta can go into a salad with some limp broccoli that threatening to go bad – and I can use some of the tarragon vinegar or maybe the lovely aged balsamic vinegar. Ahhh - decisions.

Some "aged" carrots can be sautéed with garlic, onions and the can of black beans, and all of that can be stirred up with the bag of brown rice that I didn’t know I had.

And for dessert - either some canned pineapple, or if I can turn the brick of brown sugar I found back into granules, I could bake an apple stuffed with pecans, newly uncovered raisins, a spritz of bottled lemon juice and sugar.

Think of the money I will save not acquiring any "new" food until I whittle down the stores of comestibles in that kitchen closet. That could buy an awful lot of tuna.

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Filed under: Cooking • Leftovers • Make


soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. engineer long time

    In addition to the pantry, I keep 3 months of MREs on hand and my portable water purification system ready to go. Have a supply of fire wood and ways to make electricity. Have seeds and hand tools. Have a pond stocked with fish.....no problem

    July 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  2. bee13

    NINE MEALS TO CHAOS

    My wife and I have always had an eye toward preparedness – even before we were married which was many moons ago. It is said that, 'With age comes wisdom.' Somehow that reference seems to have completely passed by our friends in Washington D.C. but for us it has steeled our resolve for 'defense in depth' against hunger and thirst.

    After a person has lived for a while she or he begins to see that trouble DOES visit everyone from time to time, and that bad things DO happen...even where I live! That person, if she is a prudent person, begins to take steps - steps against hard times that WILL eventually present themselves, ready or not. It's crossing a threshold from cartoons and fantasy into an age of enlightenment and understanding of how the world truly IS...

    What does all of this have to do with our pantry? Simply put, it's this: If the trucks stopped moving, for whatever reason, your local supermarket would have only enough food to supply the area immediately surrounding the store for three days. Three days! That means that the population is only NINE meals away from hunger, looting, and chaos. NINE meals folks. That's it. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is well aware of this fact and plans (in vain, mostly) to have emergency food onsite before the end of the third day.

    Do yourself (and your family and neighbors) a monumental favor and have a backup supply of food and potable water. As others have posted here, building a supply can be pretty painless; simply buy a few extra cans/boxes/bottles of the things you normally eat, write the purchase date on each item (a Sharpie works well), and set them in a cool, dry, dark place (basement, if you have one). Shoot for a month's worth of food storage at first. When you reach that, shoot for three months, then six. Finally, work your way up to the ultimate food storage target of one year.

    Why one year? The answer is something that farmers have understood and lived by for eons. What happens if a large-scale crop failure occurs (any of you happen to see this in the news over the last couple of years?). Farmers know from experience that if their crops fail they won't have income (or food from their own garden) until the harvest comes in (praying) NEXT FALL. 'What are we going to eat till then?' Thank goodness Aunty Em put up all that produce in Ball Jars last year when food was aplenty and Uncle Jed dried that jerky last summer when he processed a beef cow.

    Can you see what I'm driving at? As a minimum, each and every individual and family should take pains to get as close to one year's supply of backup food storage as you can, space and funds permitting.

    Do I practice what I preach? I won't bore you any more than I already have with our food storage details. Suffice it to say that we have between one and two years of food storage and three to four months of potable water on hand at all times. We've gone much further than this in regard to back up fuel, electricity, water purification, various means to cook food, gardening, chickens, etc., but that's outside the scope of this article and discussion.

    Take matters into your own hands NOW and protect yourself and your family from needlessly going hungry and thirsty should difficulty arise in your home. Remember, NINE MEALS IS ALL THAT SEPARATES US FROM CHAOS...

    July 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • j@e-T

      I work night shifts and used to rarely eat at hime as I always rush tothe gym before work shift starts. for the past 3 mos or so, Ive been dropping by "carinderias" in opur area and eat while watching tv. At the moment, I have @ cans of tuna, a spam and 3 cans of armour vinnas and a potted meat. I cant cook the flat pasta because I ran out of LPG for the stove...oh, and I can keep stuff for long because the fridge broke down. sigh.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  3. R Burns

    I could survive well for a full week on what is in my refrigerator, including meat and fresh produce. If worse came to worst I could actually stay alive for weeks on the bags of rice and rice flour that are sitting in the pantry, plus dandelion greens and whatever from the yard and my tiny garden. Wouldn't be as much fun as shopping, but hey- and my daughter has left cans and packages of things I can't eat no matter what, from her visits that involved snacking (she for some reason doesn't equally enjoy my diet of broccoli, eggs and grilled onions). I think she could survive for a few days on her forgotten stash here, but I'll wager that I'd last longer if it came to that.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  4. Lois

    How long after the expiration date can you safely keep and eat food in cans, or jars.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Leonard

      Soylent Green never goes bad.

      July 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
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