My Private, Sustainable Mini Mart: Go Green with a Stocked Pantry

When I moved from my Chicago apartment to a Wisconsin farm, I traded convenience for countryside. No more quick runs to the mini mart store at the end of the urban block for a missing ingredient. With civilization now a fifteen minute drive away, I’ve evolved to have all the necessities to do anything from feeding a round of B&B guests to whipping up multiple pear pies.

So here’s the simplest route to sustainability: keep a stocked pantry. Save money, time and fossil fuel – not to mention upping nutritional value — by dining chez you. Maybe not as sexy an eco initiative as backpacks with PV panels, but keeping an organized, stocked pantry goes a long way in creating a self-reliant, green kitchen and household.

Stocking the pantry saves time and money – two non-renewable resources and drains on greening our lifestyle. With a little planning and organization, your pantry will never let you down. I recently gushed about my pantry passion in an article for Hobby Farm Home magazine, going into more detail on stocking the kitchen.

Here’s a few starter tips:

1. Buy in Bulk
What single ingredient do you use the most of? Save money and packaging by buying it in bulk. If you don’t have a local food co-op or buying club to purchase a large bag or case, ask you local grocery store if they will do a special order for you. Running a B&B, I buy my key organic baking staples – flour and sugar — in 50-pound bags and Organic Valley butter by the case.

2. Eat Up
There’s a corollary to β€œbuy in bulk”: use it up. We all have items lingering on our kitchen shelves for too long from impulse buys (hey – it was on sale) or over-buying too much of something. Nothing sustainable about throwing out food past expiration date. The easiest way to use things up is to literally go cold turkey on buying groceries other than key essentials and focus on using up what you already have.

3. Get Creative with Substitutes
Think out of your precise recipe box and experiment with substitutions using items you already have. No cake flour? Use 1 c. all-purpose flour, remove 2 T. of the flour and add 2 T. cornstarch. Need buttermilk? Use 1 c. of any kind of milk, remove 1 T. milk and add 1 T. vinegar or lemon juice. Let it stand 5 minutes till it curdles.

Related Posts:
Digging for Fresh Ideas: Save Money, Eat Healthy, Support Local and Sustainable Food Systems
Food Waste Equals Water Waste
Welcome to Thrifty Thursdays!

Photo Credit: Lisa Kivirist

  1. rockymtnway

    Environmentalism at the intersection of common sense and independent living. You provide yet another example of how sparing the atmosphere of thousands of pounds of carbon cannot only save time and money, but also leave you better prepared for one of those global warming-enhanced Noreasters.

    Kudos Lisa, for your uncommon common sense.

  2. cchiovitti

    Amen! Much like you, we’re also at least 15 minutes out from a store so we keep the pantry fully stocked at all times. I’ve gotten pretty good about not buying impulse goodies since we do most of our cooking from scratch, but if we do end up with something going stale (dreggs of a cereal box anyone?) I’ve got my mini goats who will happily gobble it up for us!

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