There are a few reasons that we have built up our homestead pantry or the amount of food that we have stored. It mainly serves as insulation against possible "what if's".
What if one of us lost our job? Our pantry could provide meals for many weeks. What if the barge or ferry didn't arrive with groceries for the store? In Juneau this happens once or twice a year, and the store shelves run out of perishable products quickly. What if we couldn't leave the house for some reason - snow, rock slide, sickness? Each homestead will have their individual list of "what if's" that may affect their location. What would your list look like?
Even if no emergencies like this happen, building up our homestead pantry helps save us money. Why not buy in bulk and save? Why not stock up on a year's worth of an item when it is on sale? If you know you will use 24 cans of tomato sauce in a year and can buy them while they are on sale, how much could you save? If you could do that for all your shelf stable items, those savings can really add up. I am using vanilla extract I purchased when it was $6.99/bottle, the same bottle is now selling for $29.99 last I looked...lets hope that price comes back down so I can stock up again!
If you are new to food storage, it is easiest to start slowly. Be sure you are only buying what you know you will use. Your first goal could be to have one week of meals on the shelf, then build to one month, then three months, six months, one year. When we began to build our homestead pantry, we were buying canned and dry goods from the store as we had available funds. We had a budget category for Stockup and would put $50 per month toward that envelope. As I came across a great sale price on something I knew we used, I would buy as many as we would use in a year. Things like canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, green beans, corn, soups.
Our homestead pantry is made up of jars of home canned, homegrown foods, cans of grocery store foods, dry goods bought in bulk, our chest freezer currently full of our home raised chickens from last summer. I would like to say it is perfectly organized, categorized, and inventoried, but it isn't!
Once per year I do an inventory and mean to keep it updated with what gets used and what gets added, but I haven't found a system that works for me...yet. Once I have the inventory listing, I can use it for my weekly meal planning - what do we have that should be used this week? Do we have all the ingredients for the meals we want to make? If not, can we adjust or substitute something that we do have on the shelf? The inventory also helps me see when it is time to go ahead and stock up on an item again...especially if it is on sale!