I can still remember my grandma and her cooking from decades ago, the recipes that were handed down to her from her mom and grandmas

the links of us all through the ages of time can be the way we actually feed ourselves. It is important for us to bring this knowledge to those that come after us. It will be to their detriment if we do not.

One of our all-time favorite dishes my grandma made was called Grandma’s Spaghetti. I presume it came from the necessity of the Great Depression. Now it isn’t like you would think of regular tomato paste-based sauces with spaghetti noodles. Rather, it is made up of what was on hand

It does involve pasta, but it doesn’t discriminate on the type of noodle you can have. Elbow is the most common, but whatever you have on hand is just as well (maybe not Acini de Pepe but you get the picture). Once the pasta is cooked, you add your choice of grounded meat. We do the beef side of things, but you can use ground pork and even some game animal meat.

Once you have browned the meat, and softened the pasta, and put them into a large bowl, then the secret ingredients come in… what are they? Ketchup and sugar… yep. Ketchup and sugar. Now during the 1930s Depression, I fully understand Ketchup. It is more available and cheaper than tomato sauce or paste.  So to the large bowl, you add enough Ketchup to coat the contents of the bowl. But if you have eaten ketchup straight, it is pretty tart to the taste. – Thus the need for sugar.

Now, the amount of sugar you add is determined by your taste. We add just enough to take the edge of the ketchup tartness away. Mix and serve!

But, that got me thinking. Many of us probably have recipes from grandparents that we would love to have right now. And, many of those recipes were most likely created during wartime and the Great Depression as a necessity for batches to last for a week or so. Some people might call those leftovers. But, not everything is good for a week’s worth of meals.

It’s not just about making meals that will last throughout the week during bad times. But, having a variety of ingredients on the shelf is also important, either to make these recipes or as a side for your favorite recipes.

Here is a good list of pantry items to consider, and how long each should last:

  • Canned Fruit, Veggies, and Beans (up to 6 years)
  • Canned Meat or Tuna (up to 5 years)
  • Dried Fruit (approximately 1 year)
  • Dried Beans (indefinitely)
  • Corn Starch (indefinitely)
  • Dried Pasta (about 3 years)
  • Grains (about 8 years)
  • Oats (2 years)
  • Rice (30 years)
  • Instant Coffee (about 25 years)
  • Jams and Jellies (2 years unopened, 6 months opened)
  • Jerky (2 years, sealed)
  • Maple Syrup (indefinitely, unopened)
  • Raw Honey (indefinitely)
  • Sugar (indefinitely)
  • Vanilla Extract (indefinitely)
  • Oils (2 years)
  • Powdered Milk (20 years)
  • Ramen Noodles (2 years)
  • Salt (indefinitely)
  • Bouillon (2 years)
  • Soy Sauce (indefinitely, unopened)
  • Whole Spices and Herbs (up to 4 years)
  • Tomato Sauce Can or Jar (2 years)
  • Vinegar (Indefinitely)

Keeping your staples at the ready is what you can do to keep you ready come what may. Feel secure in the thought and the action of keeping your pantry full with the basics needed for adequate meals.