The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Progress report and finding new ways to add to our pantry.

Things have changed over the few months I have been building up my pantry and cellar. I think it comes from reading several wonderful blogs and seeing all my storage as my pantry. (these are on my side bar)  My fridge, freezer, kitchen pantry, cellar and also laundry and bathroom cabinets are all part of my pantry and preparedness. And so are the medicine cabinet and first aid supplies.
The things Andy keeps in the shed... tools, batteries, buckets etc these are all part of it as well!

So my focus now is much more on everything! In my mind my cellar has become my "home store" where I can find anything I might run out of including things like dish washing liquid, soap, toothpaste as well as food. This is a big project, transforming it from a wasted space to a store!

This week Sydney had a massive storm. At the moment 100,000 people are still without power. Someone I know went out in it after the storm and realised it was a massive mistake, trees were down and it was generally unsafe. We need to be able to stay put and not go on the roads until things are ok. The number if times I have heard of people being killed as they are basically sight seeing disasters amazes me. Stay safe! That is just sensible! If we are at least a bit prepared we can easily stay home and out of it with plenty of food etc for a few days. Driving to the store for milk is just not necessary! Since I wrote this it got worse and many more are without power and lives have been lost sadly.)

Anyway, I am seeing each area as my pantry and considering everything that adds to them as building up my pantry.

The other gradual change has been becoming more aware of every opportunity to add to each area. My first methods to build up my cellar were great specials especially two for one prices. Whenever something we use was half price I would buy up and basically store all the "free" items in the cellar.
The next was I get gift cards from Woolworths from time to time as a reward. They are usually $5 and now and then a $10 one. I use those to buy half price specials (and double their value) and these items build up my pantry. I continue to do these.
Other times I have sacrificed something small and used the money to add to my pantry. This can be really good. In one instance I had a parcel I needed to post. I expected it to cost around $10. At the last minute I was able to give it to someone who was travelling to delver. So I used that $10 for my purse I keep for good specials. So it ended up as food in my cellar instead of postage. This has become a bit of a game. I love being able to do a swap and save and use that money to build up the pantry.

Other little things I include...

Every parsley plant that has come up I have nurtured and replanted if it needed re locating. All of this will be fresh green vitamins and minerals I can add to so many things.

Each week I have had a cook up and added to my freezer. Last week was Pasties. Yesterday I made sausage rolls. On the weekend I am making meat pies.

In summer free fruit allowed me to add enormously to my pantry. It took the form of rows of jam, fruit pies, stewed fruit in the freezer and fruit cobblers. It added up to an enormous amount of food!

I have discovered a lot of foods that last a long time that I never considered before. Now I work them into our meals and keep them on hand. Reading what other people store and use has really increased my options.

My own herbs, chili, spinach and limes in our garden give me little bursts of freshness and flavour to add to lost of things.

Every shopping trip is a mission to see what I can find! Everywhere I go is too! Where ever I go I check out the local fruit and vegie store, watch for road side stalls, watch for fruit trees and think about how I can build up my pantry.

If you have an excess of something think about selling items or trading as a way to add to your supplies. When you start this it is amazing what comes back. As I have so many chili plants and I have dried and frozen chili I take them with me to give them away. People tend to say "oh I have some lemons would you like some?" and other excellent statements like this! :) Giving is always good. Good things happen.

Developing what we are growing, cooking, doing... as part of the conversation makes people realise we will use or swap produce. I work it into conversations if I can. In Adelaide, at least, it is perfectly possible to know people who have fruit falling to they ground they would not consider picking up. Our neighbours were like this with three huge peach rtrees. I asked and I received... I picked huge baskets of peaches over three weeks.

My aunt told me she has joined a group of gardeners who meet in each others gardens and swap produce. What a good idea!
Many areas have, buy, sell, swaps and many can be found in the local paper and facebook pages. Imagine the possibilities!
Local free cycles can be wonderful to find everything from vintage canning supplies to manure for the vegie patch, food items and pick your own fruit.
You can advertise for free that you will pick fruit and return with jam or a pie.
You could place a notice "canning jars wanted" on a free notice board or on free cycle.

What I am saying is maybe we can explore possibilities we haven't considered?  If you know someone with a farm, vegie garden, chooks or who hunts or fishes maybe you can establish some kind of swap with them?
If we don't have produce to swap maybe we can knit dish cloths or cook or offer some commodity from our own talents?
If you know someone with a bakery or food business this might have possibilities.
Maybe there are steps we can take that we haven't tried before? Maybe we can boldly ask where we haven't asked before. I wrote "Ask and you hall receive"recently and the amazing results it produces to just ask simple questions...

If you have limited space you might be able to grow more herbs if you stack your pots like I do. It really works so well. I stacked four old pots, filled with dirt and a tomato stake down the middle, to stop them from topping over...

Each layer I filled... big things that need more room went at the bottom, which is a half wine barrel.

It is in the sun at my back door and it is mainly watered from kitchen water, left over tea from the teapot, water form cooking vegetables etc.

Now it has grown and the amount it produces is huge!  I pick herbs almost everyday. I give away bunches. The bottom layer is currently chili and basil. It is massive! Even my budgie Chippy gets a bunch a day!

This takes up a small amount of room and produces so much!

It is funny... in one way we are surrounded by abundance and in another people don't necessarily notice it. It is a mind set to some extent. On holidays at one of the little beach towns we go to we met an old man. He was working in an op shop for the day. Every morning he goes fishing. Then he keeps enough of his catch for his dinner and he goes door to door in a little run her does around his retirement village. He gives everyone fish according to what he has caught. In turn he gets given home grown vegies, fruit off trees, home cooking and all sorts of things and an excellent social life! I thought this was wonderful!

I am loving going from things I have always done, things I have been doing for the last couple of years to thinks I have not really ever considered or known about!  When our eyes are opened to new possibilities it is really exciting!

What are some ways you add to your pantry? And what are your tips to build it up when there isn't necessarily spare money to do it with?
I really want to challenge you to trying something you have not done before to build up your pantry and preparedness.

Thank you for all the wonderful ideas on Mondays post about crumbles and stretching meals. Lots of really good and some amazing ideas came in and some brilliant ways to stretch meals!

Now I am heading off for the day to see Hilde who is always full of ideas on pantries, how to stretch things, frugal things and general great fun. I have four huge op shops to go to as well and the cheapest best fruit and vegie shop I know. I cannot wait to see what I find!
It is also a perfectly gorgeous sunny day!

I hope you are having a wonderful week. I hope I have great things to report on Friday! x


  1. Such an interesting post, real food for thought.

  2. I love the idea of stacking pits for herbs! Have a blessed day!

    1. Thanks Chrissy, it works so well. Next to the back door it gets watered all the time so it is super easy. xxx

  3. Great post again Annabel
    Lately I have had to start living out of my pantry as there is such a drop in our income and work is not forthcoming yet. I am so thankful that I have this to fall back on as without it we would be in a very difficult situation. In order to fill the pantry in the first place I did almost as you did and grabbed things as they came on special. I soon learnt the things we would use and the things that were a false bargain because it sat past it's use by date.

    Now I tend to avoid the "fad" foods that the girl's had a fancy for and only stocked the pantry with the tried and true items that I know we will use. I have been able to gleam some fruit just enough for us to eat from local trees that are either in the parkland or hanging over the fence into the street. My friend has lettuce growing and we traded some odd jobs that Miss P did for him for salad vegetables from his garden and a little cash in her pocket.. However we have an ongoing relationship of helping each other out. He asked for soup mix (dried peas etc) which I had stocked up on last winter and in return he dropped off some lamb

    In these days of hardship it is good to have some help and encouragement from neighbours and friends. Building up my pantry for my own personal time of hardship has proven to be invaluable not only for putting food on our table but for keeping my spirits lifted knowing I can feed my family well until better times arrive.

    God Bless and have a good week

    1. Dear Mel, I have been thinking of you so much and hoping for good news. Meanwhile I am so glad you have your pantry and freezer and I know you had been filling them as much as you could.
      I love your swaps! And the fact that is it mutually beneficial as swaps usually are really which is another wonderful thing about them.
      I dont know if you checked out the food bank... I know you have always been tremendously kind and generous to others so now if the food bank can help you then please just take that as soon you will be back to normal and it just goes around! We all have a turn at needing help sometimes in all kinds of ways.
      With lots of love,

  4. Annabel, love, love, love your herb pot(s)! Such a great idea. I have a small pot with basil and chives just starting to pop through the dirt! You reminded me to plant parsley. :) I use it all the time and dry lots for winter cooking, but I love fresh too!

    You've given me a lot to think about. I'm always thankful I can go to my pantry when there's no grocery money left. You have excellent ideas on how to still build your storage. Several years ago, we were having a hard time financially so I did some research and found "replacements" for hair conditioner (I dilute cider vinegar-works great), I make my own laundry detergent, make my own spray and wash, I use vinegar, baking soda, plain old soap etc. to clean with, I learned how to make my own lotion and many more DIY household items. I also use a few essential oils to help. Thank you for the challenge, as I am always looking for ways to use what I already have. Many times over, this has helped so I could use grocery money for the essential things we needed.
    It's always fun to share our garden produce with others and I also "get the word out" that I will take extras too!

    I'm looking forward to your Friday post! Can't wait!

    1. Dear teri,
      Thank you! Apple cider vinegar is wonderful on hair. People pay a ton of money for "clarifying" shampoo... to remove product build up and cleanse their hair. Apple cider vinegar does exactly that for pennies! I use it regularly, it gives great shine, great smoothness. This is a good tip!
      There are lots of things we can eliminate or stretch. It is kind of a fun challenge!
      Thanks very much,

  5. A few weeks ago when walking back from town I noticed an apple tree on the side of the road, unfortunately the apples from low on the tree had fallen to the ground and were full of ants etc, and I couldn't reach the higher ones. I will however remember this tree next year, there were also a few blackberry bushes on the other side of the road. I might just go for a walk at the weekend and see if there are any blackberries left.

    1. Maggie when i lived in a country town I heard about an apple tree out on a dirt road between tow small towns. Several friends and I went there to pick apples once a year from then on for years! We all would get buckets and buckets. Then I would spend the next week making apple pies, apple sauce etc. It was great! It was on the road side not on anyones property. Loved that apple tree!
      Blackberries would be wonderful! Fingers crossed for next year! xxx

  6. A lovely post Annabel

    Also a timely reminder with so many people effect by the bad weather. I have been eagerly waiting to hear from family members as I have many in the effected areas in Newcastle. All are safe and now have power restored. Thanks to the way they have seen me prepared out here prompted my DBro and his family make up an essentials kits of food, water and torches and batteries. Their power came back on tonight. I also spoke to a cousin who is isolated on a property in Dungog, who was terrified as she was alone after losing her husband a few days after Christmas and her son was away working in a safe area.

    Talking of apples it surprise me how quickly shop bought apple turn. I purchased some not more than a week ago and they are soft, so last night I turned them into stewed apples and DD4 loved this with a small amount of custard. At one time I would probably just have thrown them out but not anymore.

    Recently DD4 has been diagnosed that she needs to be gluten free. I have been shopping and found websites that sell GF flours but then I did further searches and want people to know that there is away to make GF flours may cost a little to outlay but when I worked it out it is a lot cheaper to make the outlay and you end up with a lot more flour for the price you would pay in the supermarket. Happy to share information if anyone needs it.

    I have been madly using up my flours on naan breads, pear and banana breads, fresh baked rolls to eat with soups and of course cooking and taking things to morning teas with friends. Then I can start to work on building up GF based products to have on hand at the ready. Just a few short years ago when I was working fulltime I would have purchased most pre packaged items at the supermarket but now realise how foolish that was.

    Thank you to Annabel's Blog and also to Wendy that no longer happens


    1. Dear Aly,
      Thank you for your mail and comment... I am replying to you here as I was about to reply and say I am so sorry you have had the worry of family in the storm. We watched coverage tonight and my heart was breaking at some of what I saw. And to have someone in Dungog... that seems the worst spot from what I have seen so far. It should have been called a Cyclone I think. It looks like a cyclone hit. It is a miracle more people werent killed from the looks of it.
      Aly I think lots of ladies would be amazed you can make GF flours yourself. I didnt know. If you have time anytime and want to email me that I will post it for everyone.
      If you can make your own GF goodies you will be saving a fortune. I see that they really slap high prices on GF things. Even in a cafe the GF choice will usually be more. This will save you a fortune.
      I notice on Jamie Oliver he seems to have lovely GF recipes. And I find his recipes have always worked and been yummy... although I havent tried these ones.
      Im glad you made stewed apples. They are so good. If you do them in the crock pot long enough (the day) they turn pink! Also you can add sago (I think sago is GF?) and that is lovely too. With stewed fruit nothing is wasted!
      I hope all your family are ok and you can stop worrying and sleep well. Things will be a mess for a long while but as long as everyone is safe...
      Lots of love,

  7. Annabel, I love your potted herb garden! I'm going to see what I have on hand that I can duplicate it with. Love this post and all the ideas you present.

    1. Patsi, you will love that I had the half wine barrel. The other pots I found on the side of the road. One had a red backed spider in it. That came free lol
      But too bad I was having them and started with fly spray when I got them home!
      Well they have been fantastic! Plus you water the top and it filters down... things just thrive in it!
      I should have put this in the post. Free posts are even better than bought ones! xxx

  8. When I do not have money to add to the pantry, it is time for me to process what I have into easier to use foods. One big thing that I do is to pressure can dry beans. We do not care for the texture of beans that have been cooked and frozen but we love the home canned beans and it makes them usable in a time of power outage since they could be eaten straight from the jars and are very good that way.

    Today I will be making muffins from too ripe bananas for my husband's lunches. I have all of the ingredients on hand.

    Thanks you for these posts that provoke thinking of our pantries in a new way!

    1. Dear Lana, I like the thought that when we dont have the money to add things we can get on and MAKE things! There is always something we can do. Preparing the beans as you like and use them is a great idea and very handy.
      So is using up the bananas!
      Thank you for this, I am now thinking about things I can be doing and getting on with when I cannot be adding (which is now actually) xxx

  9. I love your love for all things pantry! This post was very inspiring! :) What I try to do is look around my yard (and family members) and when I see an abundance of something edible, I begin thinking up and looking up ways to use it. There are usually lots of possibilities and it is exciting to see one item turn into many things. For instance those blessed peaches of yours! I would dry them for snacks, freeze them in pieces for smoothies, make frozen peach pie filling, can peach jam, can peach syrup, make peach scrap vinegar, etc... So much products from one fruit! It is so much fun. Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas Annabel. I am really enjoying my visits here! :) P.S. Your herb planter is lovely!

    1. Thank you Jes! I am learning to see possibilities I once would have missed. And on that... today I read your blog on Lavender and I have access to Lavender bushes and have been under utilizing those!
      Many thanks! xxx

  10. Great informative post Annabel.

    I too love your herb pots. Looks so much better than mine does just sitting in pots. I have rosemary, thyme, mint, parsley and oregano. These are the herbs I use the most.

    My pantry is easy to keeping running now that I have it all in order. Over the years I have built it up to what it is today. Most times what I need is always there. I keep a shopping list handy and when I am running low on something, I put it on the list to grab when I am at the shops next. I have a cupboard full of homemade preserves like jams, sauce, relish, pickles, beetroot and pasta sauce. These are used regularly. My freezer has just been refilled with meat specials, and I still have a few veggies growing. Winter is coming and I have oranges, mandarins, grapefruit and lemons growing, all loaded with fruit. I squeeze the oranges, mandarins and grapefruit for our daily juice (vitamin C to fight of colds and flu).

    Should a disaster happen, I think I would have enough to make do. If we lose electricity our lights are solar, and our stove and oven are gas. If for some reason the lights weren't working, I have lamps that are full and ready to use. Hubby has plenty of camping gear and tools in the shed that could be used as well. We also have gas bbq and pizza oven outside if need be. We have plenty of rainwater in storage. I keep up with the washing, so could go a quite a few days without having to wash, and I could always hand wash, I even have my grandmas scrubbing board lol! The cars usually have a fuel, but if this wasn't available we have pushbikes or our legs.

    I love being prepared. We go quite a long time without going to the supermarket these days. I think I learned a lot of skills from my mum without even knowing it. As a youngster, we went to town from the farm once a week. This day was used to go to church, grocery shop and visit my grandparents.

    Thank you for your inspiration, it is definitely a great help.


    1. Tania you are really organized and your garden is a huge asset. I know it would have taken you so much work to establish it to be as good as it is. But what a good investment in time and effort.
      Also having a variety of ways to cook etc if one power source is lost.
      Im impressed you also have winter crops of citrus! I love that and all that vitamin C in winter is good!
      You could show your preserves in your pantry on your blog, I would love to see that... along with your citrus trees! These things make me happy. It is an encouragement to see what others are doing and be inspired. Thank you for a wonderful post! xxx

  11. Hi Annabel. I love this post and particularly what you say about doubling the value of gift cards or coupons by using them to buy items that are half price. This is such a clever idea! Thanks to Wendy at My Abundant Life, I happen to know that Imperial Leather body wash, a favourite of my daughter, is half price this week at a well known supermarket chain. I'll be using a gift card received by trading some loyalty points, to stock up on those, effectively doubling the value, as you've so rightly pointed out. Thankyou. Mimi xxx

    1. Thanks Mimi! I always do that with gift cards and the girls did too... I would tell them how the gift card would buy double if they waited for the sales!
      We love Imperial Lather as well. It is good stuff.
      Just now I have $15 in Woolies cards and am on the look out to turn that into at least $30 worth of things for the pantry.I got great fruit and vegies specials yesterday so that has helped the next week.Have a good Friday! xxx

  12. Annabel I think one thing people always need to remember is to constantly top-up the petrol in their car for just these types of emergencies (rule of thumb for me is never let it go down below half a tank if possible).

    Not only is it your escape vehicle it can charge your mobile & laptops, keep you warm if freezing & cool in a heatwave, you can plug in a transportable fridge, sleep in it if necessary & use the radio to keep in touch with the outside world. In an emergency your car can be your best friend & many people forget it.

    As an example, my husband had heat stroke one New Years eve on a stinker of a Summers day as he was just unable to get cool, I arrived home from work to find him laying in bed sick & completely exhausted & I innocently asked him why he didn't jump in the car & put the air conditioner on to cool himself down if he was that hot?......... it just didn't occur to him at all, LOL.

    So my tip is always keep your car prepared, it may save your life.

    1. This is a really good point Susan! I always feel very happy with myself when the car is full of petrol. And when there is an even like the storms or recent cyclones you always see massive lines at service stations and desperation... for petrol plus also gas bottles, cans of fuel for generators etc. Every single time same thing!
      The thought that we could charge a phone when the power is out is a valuable tip.
      Your poor husband! Heat stroke is just terrible, you feel like youre dying!
      Thanks Susan these are great tips. xxx

    2. Susan,
      We have the same policy in our home; vehicles never go below half a tank.
      I'm sorry your husband had a heat stroke - it's awful. I had one as a child and the heat has adversely affected me my entire life.

  13. Hi Annabel, Your jams look gorgeous! And I love the idea of stacking the pots. It would be great for someone with a balcony garden. I love stocking up my pantry and cupboards. I've started using our laundry cupboard for stockpiling toilet paper, shampoo, tissues etc. It really makes you more resilient if you are able to support yourself for a time without going to the shops, as the recent storms have demonstrated.
    And I love Susan's suggestion for always having petrol in the car. So important.

    1. The laundry cupboard and other cupboards too can be really big parts of our pantries. A heap of necessities stocked up saves money as well. Today I bought tissues on a big special and stocked up several boxes.
      I love Susans tips too and that if there is no power and we need to charge the phone we still have the car as a way to do that. That could be a life saver.
      Thank you for your comment I appreciate

  14. Hi Annabel and Friends, this post has so much content to think on. When I heard about the terrible storms and saw the head of the SES pleading with people not to leave their homes unless they had to....I immediately thought of our little community here.
    I said to my husband, with so many without power...." I wonder how many have generators at home?"
    A generator can probably be bought for around $500 and is literally a lifesaver under such circumstances.
    Annabel when you started this series, I was the same as you, thinking my pantry was just that. Now, I view my whole home as a storage of sorts including even things like craft and entertainment.
    Preparing in every area of our lives really can save time, stress, money etc.
    Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments everyone! Helen

    1. Helen, being away, you are probably missing seeing what a mess that storm has left. Anyone with supplies, candles, torches and ultimately a generator would be so glad!
      We are on this preparedness journey together. We have already come a long way in a short time! xxx

  15. lovely post as always Annabel. I live in the Hunter where the storm was the worst with no power for a few days. I was one of the lucky ones that still had water and we have gas cooking and hot water. We were without power for 3 days and only have mobiles so we had to use the car to give a little charge to them. I also have one of those portable chargers that you charge by usb and it will charge you phone to full which gave one charge. I needed the phone charge so I could check on my boys and their families. Mobile service was intermittent so keeping in touch was hard. I had candles for lighting but the local shops when they had power sold out of every candle whether they were household or scented. Batteries were another thing that sold out but mainly D and C there were heaps of A and AA. I needed D as the radio I had uses those and I only had what was it. They are on my shopping list his week. It is still bad in the area and lots of roads still closed but all my family are safe. Like Helen said a generator would have been a god send as most of the things in my fridge and everyone elses are now unsafe to eat.
    Im glad I had my pantry etc as we had food to eat, a lot of people were caught short.

    1. I really appreciate you sharing this Debbie. There are so many tips here.
      Last night I put the weeks things into the cellar. (and I am happy it is looking full of useful stuff!) but I was thinking what will I focus on next? You hve given me my answers. Today I will check what batteries does the radio, lantern etc take and start stocking up. I have some spare batteries. But I doubt I would cover several days of no power. And I have candles but I think I will add more.
      It is very interesting to hear what sold out.
      I am glad you are all ok. I would have been the same, wanted to urgently check on the girls and Mum and Dad and keep in touch...
      Also well done on having a pantry that kept you going. Imagine NOT and the shops being either out of reach or sold out.
      This is such a good reminder to us all. Its a reality check.
      Many thanks


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