Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Snowballs and the pantry

Big economic snowball headed our way - this one is being pushed along by bailout after bailout, too (I think I see seven 'bailouts' in this photo) ;-).

On Facebook, I likened what's happening in the economy as a big ass snowball, rolling down a massive hill, picking up size and speed as it heads right for us.... This came to mind this morning when I heard an interview on NPR about a guy who supplies clothing to department stores. He was saying that his company was barely hanging on by a thread (no pun intended) because all his major accounts (large department stores, mostly) had cancelled December orders. He said that he was doing everything he could to hold out (including laying off employees) until the new year when things would pick up. This got me thinking about my own company. I work in a group that handles products for network solutions (like laptops, WLAN basestations, etc). Our largest customer pushed out most of their 4th quarter orders. Everyone expected this, but what no one is talking about is how all the smaller customers are also pushing out orders. Yeah, 4th quarter is when everyone cuts back to make the budget for the year, but I think it's way more than that, this time around. I kept thinking: What happens in January when the orders don't renew? What happens when the department stores, or the network builders realize that they had a crappy 4th quarter and now they can't afford to get back into these businesses in the volumes they had planned? Then what? Yes...this snowballs...

Anyway, instead of letting the stress of this eat away at my ability to sleep (a common occurance for me), I'm going to get more proactive in my little way. How? Working on the pantry!

Our pantry (but not our food - this photo was from the listing for our home). It looks a little different now that we are filling it with the types of things we eat.

We haven't had time to get to the grocery store in a couple of days, so we are completely out of veggies. For dinner, I've been looking to our pantry (such as it is). Last night, we had pork steaks in a teriyaki marinade with fried rice and glazed carrots. The pork was in the freezer, the rice (from a box mix) was in the pantry as were the carrots (home canned). It turned out surprizingly well! Tonight, I'll be making a low fat 'cheeseburger' pie with a green salad (using up the last of the lettuce, spinach and tomatoes left in the house). Tomorrow, it'll likely be some other concoction using frozen meat, canned or frozen veggies and potatoes (which we have plenty of). It's kind of fun seeing what kind of dinners one can create using only what is in the house!

It'll be even more fun once the pantry is STOCKED the way I'd like. The past few days have made me realize that we need more veggies stored. To this end, I'm going to buy some bulk veggies this weekend and can some more. I'd also like to put together a small root cellar and store more things like potatoes, root veggies and winter squash. I know I'll be buying these items this year, but it'll be a good way to learn how a root cellar works in preparation for next year when I'll get to store things grown in our own garden. I also need to take a good inventory of what we have in the pantry already. The plan is to mount a white board near the door so that as we use something up, we can list it and get it replaced. Shopping for 'fresh' foods usually centers on fruits and veggies, milk, eggs and bread. My goal is to only need to buy fruits and veggies once every couple of weeks and to avoid having to buy milk (done), eggs (soon), and bread (time to start). Not only will this save money (buying in bulk and during sales), but it will save lots of time and heaven knows, we could all use a little more of that!

So the moral of the story? If you don't have a working pantry - start one, now. If your home doesn't have a dedicated pantry area, you can always convert a closet, the space under your stairs, or even the corner of a room (I know of one woman who bought a big old wardrobe at a yard sale and uses that for her pantry). Start with buying extra of the things you use all the time (or buy in bulk if you can). This is easy to do with things like canned goods, dry goods and paper products. From there, start thinking about assembling meals and what items you'll need to supplement what you've already got. This might mean being more efficient about how the freezer is utilized or trying some things like home canning or dehydrating. Keep in mind, there is no point to filling the back closet with wheat flour if you can't eat wheat. What I mean is, buy and store the things YOU eat. Not only will this eventually be a great money and time saver, this will also help you prepare for emergencies (power outages, natural disasters, etc). Besides...it's kind of fun seeing all that beautiful food (like canned cinnamon grape preserves or golden turkey stock) lining the shelves!

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