Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hardship Homemaking

There's a website out there called Hardship Homemaking, run by a handful of FS type folks.  The latest entry is about where to start when stocking a pantry.  This is nothing new for our FS officers who are Mormon or those who live by once-a-month cooking or grocery exile, but for the rest of us the article is a good place to start when stocking shelves at a new post.  Many of our posts are called Consumables Posts, which means we are allotted a certain amount of consumable items (typically food, but also encompasses anything else that gets used up... paper towels, toilet paper, soap, you get the idea) for the 2-4 years we live there.

Here are some additional tips to the article Secrets to a Well-Stocked Pantry:

Don't ship soda, crackers or cereal to last your full tour.  Toilet paper is one thing, those other things go bad anywhere from a month onward.  Crackers and cereal last longer if you keep them in the deep freeze, but even then they'll go stale before you want them to.  Soda, especially diet soda, goes bad fast.  Find something local for soft drinks if you have to have them, and buy the imported stuff from home from the co-op or local mom&pop store periodically.  To replenish items that can go stale, employ Amazon Grocery or any number of other sites for regular delivery (obviously this doesn't work for liquids).  It adds to your weekly mail too, so what's not to love about that?

When stocking a pantry, keep the holidays in mind.  Regular spices are great, but when you get to holiday baking and you've always used Pumpkin Pie Spice in your cookies, it's nice to have it there.  Spices are something that can also be kept in the freezer in tight air-locked containers, especially ones you don't use often.

Don't ship rice.  It's everywhere.  Everyone eats it.  I knew someone who shipped rice to themselves in Manila, a non-consumables post, and a country that exports rice and is known for the Banaue rice fields.

Flour is another item that's not necessarily worth shipping.  Every country bakes bread in one form or another.  See if the local option is good enough, and affordable enough, first.

Chocolate is something else that can lose its texture and quality if it sits on the shelf for a long time.  Send enough in consumables for about a year, after that order it through a grocery option.  Important tip: Order during the colder months.  One Easter in India my folks sent us all chocolate Easter bunnies.  What arrived were solid chocolate puddles with eerie candy eyes every-which-way in the corner of the cellophane wrapped boxes.

Items like Del Monte canned tomatoes can be familiar, but it's another food that's commonly found on the local market.  Consumables orders, if you don't use the whole allotment from the starting gate, give you a complementary shipment within the first year of your tour.  Take the time to check the local stores and try similar items before you determine that you have to order what you've always used.  Sometimes the local items are close enough and cheaper.  Sometimes not.  But you don't know until you look yourself.

There you have my tips for the day.

I kind of miss doing consumables.  Sometimes it's easier to get 1000 pounds of food at once and have instantly stocked shelves versus starting with nothing and working week after week to stock the cupboards.  But either way, it's all a food adventure, right?

1 comment:

  1. Back a ways in HH - more on consumables: