Well if you are going to store extra food you need someplace to put it. Here is my additional pantry. As I have said before I do not have a basement so when our son left home I took over his bedroom. Since the regular closet was already repurposed as storage for things other than foodstuffs I had to come up with a different idea. What I did was build a additional storage space in the room. As you can see by the photo on the right there is a heavy duty shelf and on the left is a corner shelf. I have described this to you in a previous post but I thought I would share some pictures since we were talking about food storage again.
We talked last time about how you can build up your storage a little at and time and that you should store what your family will eat. Now that you have kept your list for a week or two I'm sure you realize that there are many things your family eats that can be made a part of your food storage. So how about those staples that you hear about all the time: beans and rice? Should you store them if your family does not eat them? Well, yes and no. Beans and rice are really cost effective for what you get and they will fill you up if you are hungry. However, if your family does not normally eat beans and rice and you do not know how to cook with them there is not much point to having a five gallon bucket of each in your storage.
But wait, now may be the time to introduce your family to beans and rice and experiment with cooking both. Rice is fairly simple to cook it is just two time the water as rice with a little fat, either oil or butter, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Cooked just like this rice is fairly bland but goes really well if you have a meat and veggie mix with a little sauce to go on top. It is really easy to flavor plain white rice with just some herbs and spices. Try some different combinations and flavors that you know your family likes. I add garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper for a little southwest flavor. Curry can also be added for a Thai flavor. Just adding a can of tomatoes with basil and garlic or chilies will make the rice delicious. Rice can also be substituted for Don't be afraid to try different things.
Beans on the other hand are a little more involved to prepare. They have to be soaked then simmered in order to get them soft enough to eat. It is not complicated, just time consuming. I would suggest that you pick up a bag of dry beans at the grocery store and read the directions on the back. Some packages may also have a recipe to use your beans in. Some of the most popular are baked beans usually made with navy or pea beans. Black beans are really popular right now in many southwest recipes. They have a great flavor and I use them in my tortilla soup recipe. Pinto beans are the basis of refried beans just smash them up add some bacon grease, garlic powder, salt, pepper and a dash of cumin and there you have it.
It may take a little more convincing to get your family to eat beans than rice but it is worth the effort. Beans are a good protein source if meat is not available or if you want to have one meatless dinner per week. This will not only be delicious but it will also help with the grocery budget.
The one thing that was mentioned for both beans and rice was some of the herbs and spices used to flavor them. We haven't mentioned it to this point but storing these items in your pantry makes meal preparations so much easier not to mention more flavorful. Next time let's talk about what and how to store these great items.