5 Time-Saving Tips for a Diverse, Self-Sufficient Pantry

Kitchen Tour

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Who cooks and eats here: Lyn Huckabee, co-founder of the Boston Food Swap and rental issues blog Rentwhich.com
Where: Cambridge, MA

When Lyn's friends hear about all the foods she makes from scratch, their first response is usually: how do you have the time? It's not an unreasonable question. Lyn works full-time as an Energy Efficiency Program Manager for the city of Boston, which means she doesn't have a lot of free time during the week to devote to cooking, preserving, and canning.

So how does she find the time for her many cooking projects? It's all about being smart with what you make and how you prep and store the ingredients you have. Here are her 5 time-saving tips for keeping a diverse, self-sufficient pantry that'll feed her any day of the week:

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Lyn likes knowing that if for some reason she wasn't able to get to the grocery store for days or weeks, she'd still be able to feed herself with homemade food from her pantry and freezer. "I'm certainly not preparing for the zombie apocalypse, but having some self-sufficiency in terms of being able to make certain things [is really important]," she says. "There’s something to said for learning to make things from scratch… most of the things you buy in the supermarket, you can make yourself."

Lyn's 5 Time-Saving Tips for a Diverse Pantry That'll Feed You Any Day of the Week

  1. The magic of the slow cooker. "Soak beans overnight, pop them in the slow cooker in the morning and have cooked beans for dinner. You can do grains and veggies in the slow cooker, too."
  2. Prep ingredients ahead of time. "Prepare and chop ingredients one day a week and then use the prepared ingredients for the rest of the week."
  3. Commit to a few preserving days during the summer. "One day around Labor Day for tomatoes, a day in July for blueberries, a day in June for strawberries, etc. All it takes is one day of work and you have tomato sauce, frozen blueberries, or strawberry jam for the whole year! A friend from law school does his preserving days with his whole extended family, and they include wine in October!"
  4. Join a food swap. "I started the swap in Boston to diversify my homemade pantry. If you're the type who will tire of strawberry jam after a few months, take the jars you preserved yourself and trade them for someone else's blackberry preserves and last winter's grapefruit marmalade. That way you get a fun social event and homemade food out of the deal."
  5. Learn the proper way to store fresh veggies. "With a farm share, I had to learn about correct storage of vegetables to ensure that they stay fresh and usable throughout the week. Helpful storage tips include using an ethylene gas absorber and putting a wet paper towel in your lettuce bag to keep it hydrated and crisp."

Thanks for sharing, Lyn!

(Image credits: Cambria Bold)

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