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Setting Up A Healthy Self Sufficient Pantry

Updated: Apr 16

Did you know, you are only between 2 weeks and a month or so, away from starvation? Unlike days of old, today's homes have enough food for a day to a week at best. After that, you may be able to scratch up a meal of sorts, but nothing that will maintain or build health.

What if, through a freak act or accident, you were unable to go to the shops, ran out of money with no hope of being able to source support, or, due to some unknown reason, the internet went down and you could not access your own money? Or you were just unable to go anywhere? None of these scenarios are far-fetched. It happens all the time, all around the world.

And the worst thing is, most food in supermarkets is not conducive to health. We learn to shop and cook according to what our parents did, our finances and circumstances, what we learned in home economics - or worst of all, advertising. They don't care whether you are healthy or not, or whether their wares will result in you becoming obese or ill.

But back to our armageddon scenario. You have no food and no way of getting it. Imagine the chaos where others are in the same boat and you can't borrow from anyone. Or say you live miles from anywhere. Why should it be about canning meat or making cheese or hunting? There is nothing healthy or kind about that; it is survival. But we are about THRIVAL - we live and eat to thrive rather than survive.

With a little forward thinking, you could be set up for months, even years, with food that is as much your medicine as it is your nourishment. And you don't even have to possess a big budget. In fact, I learned this as a single parent, in a rental on a very low income (under the minimum wage).

Our storage came from recycling centres, from kindly people wanting to get rid of their junk (our treasures) and what we already had on hand. We would scrounge freebies, giveaways, roadside rubbish even, before the trucks had a chance to dump useful items. I even managed to get (for free) dried goods bins from a shop that was upgrading.

Start with planning and collection:

Glass jars of all sizes, with lids

Large food-grade plastic tubs Metal storage tins


Takeaway containers Shelving

Next, make a list of ingredients; main food ingredients as well as those which will enhance the taste. Start going to farmers' markets, growing your own food - more about that in another article but did you know there are over 12 THOUSAND plant foods in the world? What are we doing? Most people eat less than a dozen fresh foods regularly! Farmers grow a scant few. Home gardeners stick to the basics; potatoes, peas, beans, tomatoes, chillis, lettuce and brassicas mostly. Be inventive; add a variety to your garden, pantry - and palate. Swap or take offers from people happy to share the spoils of their gardens

What about herbs, both medicinal & culinary? What about spices? Fruit & nut trees? Berries? If you have room, get growing. If you don't, grow smaller varieties or espalier. If you are in a rental, use tubs & grow bags. Take out lawns & put in food forests.

Your verge (in built up areas) can be used for food rather than nothing at all. Buy pots from garage sales & recycling centres.

Many councils now offer mulch and potting mix for free, made from the garden waste of residents. Some even deliver for a small fee. But once again, I digress...

What dried goods are we talking about? Firstly, look for bulk food suppliers in your area or online. If you have a very small budget, do as I did and start very small with the tiniest weights. If you can afford it, buy by the kilos.

Start BIG. Remember, this is not about bulk junk - this is about thrival and health. Beans, organic pasta, pulses, organic flours. In my pantry, I have staples (organic) - all of these healthy (medicinal) and all of these capable of making hundreds of dishes (a warning - ALWAYS activate (sprout, soak overnight) your pulses as you want to remove the anti-nutrients while unlocking those which are not released until you do:

Chickpea flour (replaces egg, makes pancakes and flat breads, thickens soups)

Plain organic flour (baking and gravy)

Pastas - durum or oganic or gluten free if needed (various dishes)

Soy beans (milk, tempeh, tofu, okara) Chia seeds (egg replacer, food thickener, smoothies) Split peas (soup, dahl)

White beans (soups, sprouts, casseroles, bean tofu and salads)

Black beans (soups, sprouts, casseroles, bean tofu and salads)

Lentils - red & green (tofu, sprouts, soups, salads, dahl, lentil tofu)

Chickpeas (tofu, sprouts, soups, salads, hummus)

Nutritional yeast (gives cheese flavour to anything)

Sunflower seeds (mock fish, smoothies, salads, dressings)

Pumpkin seeds (smoothies, salads, toasted, crunchy coating to any baked goods)

Flax seeds (smoothies, toasted, dressings, crunchy coating to any baked goods)

Hemp seeds (smoothies, Buddha bowls, salads)

Rolled oats (porridge, cakes, biscuits, smoothies, milk)

Cashew pieces (dressings, cheeze, cheezecake, milk)

Walnuts (cheese cake bases, biscuits, salads) Almonds (milk, cakes, biscuits, roasted snacks)

Rice (meals and salads, puddings, patties & cakes) Sesame seed (they go with everything!)

Poppy seed (cakes, bakes)

Desiccated coconut (cakes, biscuits, milk, puddings)

Rice paper (wraps, skins for roasts)

Nori sheets (seaweed for sushi, flavouring in any meal) Mung beans (sprouting)

Coconut sugar

Olive oil Coconut oil

Agar (jellies)

Guar gum (thickener)

Tapioca flour (gravy, sauce and pudding thickener)

Potato flour (thickener)

Buckwheat flour (use as gluten free alternative)

The above can not only literally make ANY meal healthier but can make and/or replace hundreds of different foods. You don't need to buy processed anything. I add to these with each order.

Then, I have the herbs, spices and flavourings which I add to my jars:

Ground garlic

Mixed herbs


Chinese 5 spice

Ground ginger

Fennel seeds


Black salt Turmeric

Celtic salt Sea salt

Lake salt White pepper

Black pepper corns


Baking powder Yeast

Make up labels on your printer and label every tub, jar and container according to the weight and bulk of each ingredient; spices & herbs in jars, beans in big jars and tubs and so on. Or if you are one of those blessed to have lovely handwriting, or have done a ticketing course, write them yourself in permanent marker! To deter weevils and pantry moths, put bay leaves into each jar and add sandalwood powder into containers with small holes punched into them to release their amazing scents.

It's never too late to start collecting tinned food, but make sure it is healthy. Dried food that is unprocessed is always a bonus. If any of your friends have excess harvests, always let them know you are happy to take whatever they don't want. Make into preserves, sauces and jams - dehydrate what you can't use and make into powders, or put into oils (antipasto).

Get a herb garden going. It breaks my heart to see herbs going to waste. Trees like bay and elderberry, shrubs like hawthorn berries, hedges like wormwood, culinary herbs like parsley, oregano, thyme, mint, chamomile, feverfew, fennel, tarragon, sage and anything in between. Put them in tubs or pots or beds; it's up to you. If you have too much, dehydrate and grind.

This is just the start. This one measure alone has the ability to take care of everything from your stomach to your health, from improving your garden to completing your homestead. Who knows, you might even be able to make your own skin, oral and hair care! On that note, even if you have no land, your can still be self sufficient!

Upcoming articles will include medicinal herbs & the healing power of foods. Also, making your own - apple cider vinegar, butter alternative, sour cream, hummus, preserves, smoothies, herbal elixirs & much more!

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