How To Start A Homestead Pantry – Full YouTube Pantry Tour

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Let’s learn all about how to start a homestead pantry. What is a homestead pantry and what are the benefits you will experience from having one? How can you keep it fully stocked with all the things you’ll need to make nutritious meals from scratch? Be sure to read all the way to the end because there is a link to my homestead pantry tour over on YouTube.

A homestead pantry is a place where you can store all your food, whether you grow it yourself or purchase it in bulk.  It is the hub in the wheel of homesteading because life is really all about the food after all.  A homestead pantry is a place to keep all of your canned goods, dry goods like flour and grain, and other items purchased in bulk and gives you the freedom to cook almost anything you can imagine from scratch.  It allows you to save SO much money and not rely on conventional sources for your food. It also gives you peace of mind about your food security in this crazy world we live in.

lady holding jar of tomato sauce in pantry

How to start a homestead pantry?

One of the most important homestead skills you can develop is learning how to stock a homestead pantry. The first thing I suggest is that you start with what you have, whereever you are.  Trying to create a fully stocked pantry right away can be overwhelming.  The important thing is just to start.  Every time you go to your local grocery store, buy one extra non-perishable item like pasta, flour or beans and start storing it away for future use.

The second thing I suggest you do is to start learning to cook from scratch. This will allow to develop the skills needed to properly utilize all the basic ingredients in your pantry once you get it fully stocked. You can do this wherever you are, even if you live in an apartment. Learning how to bake bread is a great place to start and can be one of the most fun and rewarding things to learn.

Learn to grow a garden

You can fill up a good sized pantry in a hurry if you grow a garden. There are so many benefits from growing a garden, and these are some of my favorites:

  1.  The food is much more fresh and nutritious than what you can buy in the grocery store
  2. It costs WAY less to grow your own food than to purchase it
  3. The hours you spend tending the garden will nourish your heart and soul and improve your overall health
  4. You will know where your food is coming from and that it is healthy and non-toxic

Purchase from local farmers

Another great way to start stocking your homestead pantry especially if you’re still learning how to grow your own food, is to purchase meat and produce from local farmers.  You can usually ask to purchase food in bulk form which will bring your cost down.  You might consider purchasing a whole or half a beef (be sure to ask for the soup bones for making nourishing bone broth).  A lot of times you can purchase tomatoes, cucumbers or green beans by the box, which is usually cheaper.  You could also talk to the farmer and ask to purchase their “seconds” which would be produce that might have a slight ding or dent, or might not be the prettiest for their display.  They will usually give you a deal on this kind of produce, making it more feasible for you to preserve it for eating during winter.  

Find people that have fruit trees in your area

We have a large orchard that just started producing a lot of fruit last year. Before we had our own fruit supply, I would ask people if they knew anyone who had apple, pear or peach trees with extra fruit.  Canning and preserving is becoming a lost art in our fast paced society, so often times people with fruit trees don’t want the fruit and are more than happy to let you pick it for free.  I have canned hundreds of quarts of food this way.  Usually once people learn that you are willing to take large amounts of food, they will refer you to others in your area that might also have extra produce.

jars of grape juice on shelf

Purchase Pantry Items In Bulk

There will probably always be some food items you can’t feasibly raise yourself and those items might be different depending on where you live.  If you’ve ever read the little house on the prairie books, you know that even they had to purchase their sugar and flour.  The best way to save money on the items you can’t produce yourself is to purchase them in bulk.  It not only saves you many trips to the local store, but ensures you have plenty of food on hand in the case of food shortages or other emergencies.

Azure Standard

One of my favorite places to purchase bulk food is Azure Standard.  Azure is a natural health food distributor bringing bulk and specialty health foods to communities all across the nation.  They believe that everyone should have access to high-quality, organic, non-GMO foods no matter where they live.  Azure has cut out the middle man in grocery shopping, so the food you purchase is less expensive and can be purchased in bulk.  They deliver via semi once a month to a community near you making it simple and easy for you to pick up your groceries and other bulk items.

You can also order food grade 5 gallon buckets and gamma seal lids in bulk from Azure Standard.  These are great for long term storage of flour, sugar, grains, beans, rice, cornmeal, and lots of other dry goods.

pantry shelves lined with food and food storage buckets

Monterey Bay Herb Co.

Another place I like to order a lot of my bulk herbs and spices from is Monterey Bay Herb Co.  You have to purchase in 1/4 lb. increments or more, but the cost savings is worth it.  I like to have a good supply of basic herbs on hand for medicinal use, and spices for culinary use.  This helps save money by fewer trips to the store, and by purchasing items at a lower cost than what is available at the local store.

Learn to can your own food

An easy way to store food for a long time is through a process called canning.  In this process, specially prepared food is placed in glass jars with a special lid, and sealed with either a water bath canner or a pressure canner.  Canning is an old-fashioned skill that is very valuable especially if you live in an area of the country where you cannot easily grow food year round.  We garden in Nebraska in zone 4b and canning is a vital part of our long term food storage plan for the winter.  We will talk more about canning in a different post, but here is a link to my favorite canning lids.  They give me the highest seal rate of any lid I’ve ever used.  

jars of green beans on shelf

Start looking for jars

I cannot stress this one enough!  Start looking for jars in your local area.  Advertise on Facebook marketplace and other local outlets for jars and other canning supplies like canners and big pots.  A lot of older folks are getting out of canning, and are happy to sell you their whole canning setup at an affordable cost.  Garage sales and auctions are another good place to look.

It’s important not to wait until it is harvest time to look for jars, because they can be harder to find at that time of year.  You can also purchase them in bulk from Azure Standard.  You might consider purchasing one or two boxes each month if you are on a tight budget and before long you will have a nice stash of canning jars. It’s also a good idea to have a nice mix of quarts and pints. If you have a large family like I do you will need more half-gallon and quart jars than pints.

Learn to freeze food

Freezing is considered easier than canning because you are simply putting the prepared food in the freezer, and skipping the canning step.  However, you must consider that if you lose electricity for long periods of time, the food in your freezer will not keep.  Also, frozen food can eventually become freezer burned so it’s not as viable of an option for long-term food storage.  There are some foods that taste better frozen rather than canned.  Our freezer favorites are corn, broccoli and cauliflower, peas, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, and some of our meat and fish.  You can seal your prepared food with a vacuum sealer before freezing to better protect it from being freezer burned, especially meat and fish,

Learn to dehydrate food

Drying food involves placing prepared food into a dehydrator or freeze dryer which basically takes all the water out of the food.  Dehydrated food has an exceptionally long shelf life, even longer (like 25+ years) if it’s freeze dried.  The trick with dehydrated food is learning how to rehydrate it and cook with it so that you like it.  Adding dehydrated vegetables to soups and stews is an easy way to enjoy it.  Mushrooms can also be dehydrated, and used in cooking.  Just remember that when you rehydrate dried food by soaking it in water, it may not have the same consistency as when it was fresh.  It will be similar to cooked food, making it best to use in cooked dishes.

What pantry staples should I put in my homestead pantry?

Start with things you are currently purchasing at the store that can be purchased in bulk as you can afford them.  You might only purchase one or two extra items in bulk each month, but every time you do that, that is that many more things that you don’t have to buy from the grocery store each week.  Then each month you can take that extra money you don’t have to spend at the store and purchase more things in bulk.  Before you know it, it will snowball and you’ll have a well stocked homestead pantry.  

home canned food lined up on shelf

Dry goods

Start by stocking up on flour, oatmeal, rice, beans, and sugar, and start purchasing your spices in bulk. It will surprise you how much money you will save in your monthly budget, not to mention the increase in your food security. Once you learn to cook from scratch you’ll be able to cook hundreds of dishes from just these few ingredients.

Find out what can you grow

An even cheaper way to fill your pantry is by thinking of what you can grow and preserve that would replace things you’re constantly buying at the store. If I could only grow one vegetable, it would be tomatoes because nine of the items in my pantry come from tomatoes, and that is nine things I don’t have to buy at the store.  

  1. Plain tomatoes (used for tomato soup, chili, lots of other dishes)
  2. Salsa (used to flavor Mexican dishes and for plain eating)
  3. Ketchup (used to make a quick BBQ sauce and as a base in a lot of recipes)
  4. V8 juice – a healthy refreshing drink to enjoy all year long
  5. Spaghetti sauce – used in lots of italian dishes and as a base for a quick enchilada sauce
  6. Goulash sauce – used for making a simple and easy pasta dish
  7. Tomato sauce – used for making a quick tomato soup and as a base for many other dishes
  8. Pizza sauce
  9. Vegetable soup (one of our favorite quick winter meals)

So if I was going to start anywhere, it would be with the tomatoes!  Other pantry staples that are easy to grow are beets and cucumbers (for pickling), carrots (glazed and plain), and green beans.  

How much food should I have in my homestead pantry?

I like to have at least a one year supply of food in my home.  Doing this will make you an asset instead of a liability to your country in the case of food shortages or other emergencies.  It also gives you peace of mind knowing that when things get tough, you have a good supply of food on hand.  

I don’t believe in preparing for hard times with a spirit of fear, because as a Christian I believe that our faith and trust must be in God and in how He will provide for us.  However, we are told that hard times are coming, and we are to be wise stewards of the opportunity given us to prepare.  If you have a large family like I do, it is only responsible to do what you can to make sure your family is fed.  It’s also wise to prepare so you can share with others in case of an emergency.  What a great way to reach out and touch those who might be in need or those who don’t have the opportunity to prepare.

How to stock a homestead pantry for an entire year?

The best strategy for having enough food in your pantry for a year is to come up with a quarterly meal plan. Then figure out what food you need for all of those meals, and take that amount of food times four to make sure you have enough for all 12 months of the year.  Your meals will probably change based on the seasons once you get your pantry fully stocked and start to garden.  In the summer you’ll be eating more fresh produce from your garden and in the winter you’ll rely more heavily on what is preserved in your pantry. But it is still a good exercise to come up with 3 months worth of meals that you could cook in case of emergency.

It’s wise to practice eating out of your pantry and becoming comfortable cooking the dishes in your meal plan. If you fill your pantry with beans and rice, but aren’t used to cooking or eating it, it won’t help you much in an emergency. Part of starting a homestead pantry is learning how to use the food that’s in it, and how to keep it restocked in a timely manner. I like to purchase my bulk food twice a year and over time you will learn how much you need to purchase each time.

What if I don’t have space in my home for a large pantry?

Don’t let this stop you from starting!  Be creative.  Store things under the beds, or in a closet.  You would be surprised how much food you can store in a small space.  It is best if you have a cool dark area for storing your food, but I have stored canned food in warm areas for many years and never had any problems.  If you have a basement, you might consider building a couple of walls into a corner and just insulating them with styrofoam to keep the heat out.  You can also put a vent to the outside to allow a small amount of cool air into the room.  

jars of apple slices

How large of a storage space do I need for a homestead pantry?

My pantry is a 12’ x 16’ room in our basement, but you can get by with a much smaller space, or several spaces scattered throughout your home.  Just do what you can with what you have and it will serve you well.

What kind of pantry shelving is best?

It’s important to have good sturdy pantry shelves because canned food is very heavy.  We built our heavy duty pantry shelves out of 2 x 4’s and 2 x 6’s.  You can also purchase wire shelving from Amazon and just put a different shelf in every closet of your home. This way you’ll be able to store lots of food even without a pantry.

Take a look at our large family homestead pantry tour video here.

Free Printables

If you’d like to see everything that I keep stocked in my homestead pantry, be sure to download my free homestead pantry list below. I also included some blank inventory sheets you can keep in your pantry to help keep track of items that need to be restocked. It’s my gift to you, and I hope you find it helpful!

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Azure Standard Bulk Food

Canning Jars

Canning Lids

Pantry Shelving Unit

Food Grade Buckets

Gamma Seal Lids

Vacuum Sealer

Quart Freezer Bags

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pantry shelves with canned goods. Lady holding jar of tomato sauce

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