Dear Sisters in Christ,
"When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet." Proverbs 31:21

"Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer." Proverbs 30:25

I was organizing my pantry the other day. It is a small closet in the hall that my husband converted into a shelve-lined pantry for me. These verses popped into my mind as I worked. To not have fear for our household in the winter as mentioned in the verse above, we must prepare in the summer. The LORD gives us extra long days for our much needed preparations. We are filling our pantries with the good things from the harvest that He so bountifully provides. And summer time is harvest time!

Remember my telling you yesterday how I love to come in on the back end of a project to learn and accomplish something rather quickly that I might be encouraged to continue on? Well, this has been my experience with pantry stocking. I cannot grow everything I need to grow in order to stock my pantry, so I often stock with items already canned or dried for me. I am always learning new things from the writings of other women. So I stock with what I have learned from them and pick up the rest here and there in my travels during "harvest time".

For example, last year I was able to grow red chilies and dry them. I dried some of my herbs. I also canned some yellow wax chilies that I grew and made several batches of peach and apricot jam from our trees. I made pickles from cucumbers grown at a local vegetable stand and dried some sweetened orange rinds for cakes and donuts. That was all I could do. But those few items taught me a lot. This year I am encouraged to go a step further and try my hand at making raisins and grape jam along with the above items again. And perhaps I will can some tomatoes if my tomato plants do well.

But what about the rest of my pantry? How do I fill it? Well, I have learned that a well stocked pantry keeps me from going to the supermarket often and spending needless money. So these are the things I try to regularly keep on hand. The items marked (bulk) means I buy these in larger quantities as we use them the most often.

Wheat Grain (Bulk)
Rice (Bulk)
Pinto Beans (Bulk)
Pasta (Bulk)
Whole Oats (Bulk)
Olive Oil (Bulk)
Tea & Herbal Tea (Bulk)
Popcorn (bulk)
Water (bulk)
Bread Flour (bulk)
Spices (Bulk: Sea Salt, Pepper, Cinnamon, Oregano, Basil, Dried chilies, & Bay Leaves)
Tomato Products (lots)
Cooking Oil
Applesauce & Other unsweetened fruits
Lentils & Other Beans
Brown Sugar
Peanut Butter
Dried Milk
Rice Vinegar
Toilet Paper
Soap (for bathing, dishes, and clothing)

With these items kept freshly stocked in my pantry I am able to make a lot of recipes and keep my house fairly clean. And should there be an emergency, it is good if I am prepared. (We had a big boom of an earthquake wake us up last night which made me glad I was somewhat prepared should the need arise.) Therefore I try to keep these items well stocked in my pantry. I also try to keep them rotated to prevent bug infestation.

The summer officially begins in only a few weeks. What a privilege we have as women of God to take the "harvest" brought into our hands by our husbands' hard work and stock our pantry for the winter months ahead. I get a little at a time just like the ant in the verse above. A little gathered here and a little gathered there either from my small garden, or someone else's garden, or the specials at my supermarket turns my pantry into a mini-supermarket in itself. A little work done to prepare it for storage and the job is not that overwhelming. Where do I store it? Oh, the LORD shows me so many areas in my home that are not being used to their full potential. Today I stored several gallons of water in an obscure place in the garage.

This year I hope to learn how to can a few more items. I hope to learn how to dry some things for those months in the future when fresh fruit is expensive. There is always so much to learn! The blessings of being the keeper of the home never cease to amaze me. And a pantry persistently well stocked during the summer months is just one of those blessings.


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