Growing up, my mother had an amazing pantry.
When we were very young I remember canning applesauce, peaches, pears, tomatoes - all sorts of delicious things. Her peaches tasted like summer - even in February.
I guess she was sort of radical (for the early 80's) in how she looked at food. She didn't trust preservatives, food dyes, or HFCS. I remember finding carob-chip cookies in my lunchbox, when all I really wanted were Chips Ahoy. I remember eating wonder bread sandwiches made with grape jelly and Jiff with a side of Doritos at the house across the street - I can distinctly recall the shade of green my mother turned when I told her that's what we'd eaten for lunch ;)
Mom belonged to a natural foods co-op, and once a month we'd gather with other families in a church parking lot to unload the truck. It felt like playgroup for us kids. We would run around the church yard, playing tag and red rover among the hugs pine trees; our mothers would be busily dividing the bulk boxes of dried fruit, cheeses and pails of natural peanut butter. And when we got home, she would store it all away in the pantry.
I love my pantry. I'm pretty sure I could easily feed my family from my pantry/freezer for at least 2 weeks. After that we'd be down to some strange meal options, but we still wouldn't starve.
I just found a fascinating blog, The Prudent Homemaker, she has been feeding her family of seven (and she's due with her 6th child very soon - I love big families!) for two years. She does say that she's stocked up on certain items when she can, but for the majority of two years she has not had the luxury of going to the market every week and buying groceries. She also grows quite a bit of fresh food (makes me feel like the ultimate underachiever).
I'm going to follow some of her tips, and try some of her recipes, and see if I can't stretch my grocery money just a little bit further. All while padding my pantry.