Pantry Essentials: How I choose which foods make the cut.

How I Choose my Pantry Essentials

What makes a food “Gourmet Survivalist Pantry-Worthy?” Each ingredient that ends up on my essential pantry list will be subjected to the following criteria:

1. Brand Taste Testing 

Taste is number one. If I don’t like a food, it will most probably go to waste, no matter what kind of great deal I got when buying it, or how many brain-building, bloat-reducing, age-reversing, vigor-inducing bio-flavonoids and anti-oxidants it contains. I’ve amassed quite a collection of these sensible foods. I keep telling myself that I’ll eat them someday soon, but just like those sun-dresses I buy when on vacation, they’ll probably never see the light of day (or interior of my esophagus). Take for instance that lemon flavored fish oil now languishing in my pantry. In the grocery store, it tasted pretty good on popcorn. But when I say it tasted pretty good, I mean pretty good for fish oil. (Sharon’s Food Rule #21: Avoid the free-sample-grocery-store-vixens, they’ll seduce the good sense right out of you).

Unless it’s a red light dayA disaster has hit, and you’re left without access to fresh food. Your fridge may be out, your water supply may be limited and your gas or electricity may be cut off, (no indoor cooking). and the situation is dire, I probably won’t be eating those quasi-tasty, sensible foods. And if forced, ingesting meal after meal of marginally tolerable dehydrated lasagna would soon have us all at each others throats. I want to eat food that makes me happy and feel comforted during stressful times.

Therefore, if I decide I need a certain type of food in my pantry, I buy as many different brands of it as possible, and when possible, I make a fresh batch from scratch to use as a baseline. Then I throw a taste test party to get other people’s opinions, since sometimes my taste buds are fickle. Just to make sure people’s preconceptions don’t interfere with their actual taste experience, I hide the identities of the brands.

2. Storage Research and Testing

I’m hoping that within my lifetime some brilliant foodie scientist will discover a way to store creme brûlée and fresh raspberries without refrigeration, dehydration, chemical infusion or irradiation. I’m pretty sure I could survive on just this one delicacy. Milk is, so they say, the perfect food. And I’d get all the fiber and vitamin C I’d need from the fruit. Sure I’d fill out a bit, but I hear that post-apocalyptic plumpness will be the new black.

Until then, I’ve set to work researching the storage requirements of my other favorite foods. Since there’s a lot of conflicting and vague information on the Internet, I do my best to find trusted sources. If there’s no consensus, I conduct my own tests. If an ingredient passes my tests, I post it on my Pantry Essentials page. I also ferret out the best recipes for it, then test and post them. And just for fun, if an ingredient or recipe fails spectacularly, I post about that, too. (Search the tag: Magnificent failures).

3. Nutritional Research

I’ll be eating my pantry-foods on a day to day basis so as to rotate through them before they expire. I believe that regular consumption of delicious wholesome foods improves my quality of life. During a stressful disaster situation, I want to do all that I can to stay healthy. I don’t have a doctor in my family or storehouse of medicines in my basement, so I want the food going into my mouth to be as beneficial as possible. Since stress is a major contributor to many illnesses, eating wholesome, life-supporting food is extra important .

If a food passes the first two tests and also proves super nutritious, it makes my Pantry Essentials page. If a food passes the first two tests but is just plain unhealthy, I won’t recommend it. (Reader beware, I’ve been known to justify my decision using poetic science license. eg. chocolate chip cookies are good for you since they contain eggs and sometimes even nuts) If its crazy delicious and just a little unhealthy, I may also recommend it.

The Task Ahead:

Choosing the foods that end up in my pantry is a challenge because…

  1. The space is limited.
  2. The budget is limited.
  3. The highly processed foods that last the longest often don’t taste so great and are full of ingredients I can’t pronounce.
  4. Figuring out how much I need of each product is complicated.

But these are challenges I’m willing to face. I’ll post my winning brands as I unearth them. But don’t take my word for which brand is the most delicious, throw a taste test party of your own.  And check out the comments section for other reader’s favorites.

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