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Posts Tagged ‘save money on groceries’

Stockpiling a substantial amount of food is not something you accomplish overnight for most of us average folks.  My current goal is to have at least one year of food and supplies put back.  I’m nowhere near my goal, but I’m slowly making progress.  I’ve learned a few helpful things along the way, and wanted to pass the info along in case it will be useful to someone else.

  • Store what your family likes to eat. It does no good to have 300 pounds of flour if you don’t know how to make bread.  Beans and rice are currently cheap and plentiful, they store very well (if stored correctly), but if you have a family who dislikes beans or rice, it’s not going to be beneficial to stock huge amounts of them.  Buy things that are on sale (check expiration dates, and buy the ones with the longest), and don’t forget to shop the grocery aisles in discount stores such as Dollar General, Fred’s, and Dollar Tree.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can add to your pantry and save a bundle of money in the process.
  • Store items correctly for long term use. I err on the side of caution and freeze all of my grains (flour, pasta, beans, rice, etc.) for at least a week before repacking them for longer storage.  The freezing process kills any eggs or critters lurking in the food.  I’ve read stories of people spending lots of money on food only to have it invaded by bugs.  I generally break large bags down into more manageable sizes.  For example – a 25# bag of rice can be easily broken down into vacuum sealed bags (if you have a sealer – I don’t…yet!), or put it into clean, dry 2 liter soda bottles or 1 gallon glass pickle jars.  Be sure to put a bay leaf or two in before sealing the lid with tape.  I also use plastic gallon ice cream buckets for storage (use ziploc bags to repackage, then put into the buckets, and tape the lids very well).  Store all items in a cool, dark place if at all possible.  If packaged correctly, grains can last for literally years in storage.
  • Store a variety of foods your family enjoys. Storing only one or two essential items will quickly lead to boring mealtimes.  God gave us the enjoyment of eating for a reason, and we are supposed to eat a wide variety of foods.  Be sure to include canned or dried fruits and vegetables, as well as things like chocolate chips (for baking) and hard candies for special treats.
  • Rotate your food storage. I cannot stress this one enough.  It is essential to rotate your oldest foods to the front, and place the newest purchases in the back – just like a grocery store does.  This ensures your older goods are used first and will prevent waste from products that go bad.
  • Be creative with your storage options. If you don’t have a spare room or large pantry to store canned goods, try putting them in a box that will fit under your bed.  Covering the box with a towel will prevent dust from settling on the cans.  Use a 5 gallon bucket to store grains, and then cover it with a pretty tablecloth or spare fabric and set in the corner of a room.  There is no reason you can’t integrate your storage into almost any room of your home if you really put some thought into it.
  • Don’t have a garden?  Re-can or dehydrate the cheaper bulk size #10 cans of food. I have to confess – I did not have a garden this year.  I decided to dehydrate #10 cans of fruits and vegetables to add to my storage since it works out to be much cheaper that way.  I have a dehydrator which works great for drying peaches, green beans, mixed vegetables, etc. and they take up MUCH less space once they are dried.  A bonus to doing this – reuse the #10 cans for storage.  Wash and dry thoroughly, then repack with whatever you’ve dried (stored in a ziploc or vacuum sealed bag, of course).  You can buy extra lids that fit the #10 cans from most bulk suppliers (www.beprepared.com).
  • Decide how much to store. This can be tricky, and it’s something I still struggle with at times.  How much is too much or not enough?  There are several places on the internet with guidelines for how much to store.  For myself, I made up an Excel spreadsheet with all of what I consider the basic food items that we needed for a year.  Using the general guidelines I’d seen elsewhere, I modified the list to our specifications, and put a blank space beside the goal amount so I could see at a glance what areas still need work.  I printed the page off, put it on a clipboard along with a pencil and hung it in my pantry.  This works for me – do what works for you, but I’ve found it necessary to have a general idea of what we have in storage.  For a basic idea on how much storage you need, this is a good starting point:  http://www.thefoodguys.com/foodcalc.html .  You can print the page after calculating the amounts.
  • Store basic necessities besides food. While you’re stocking up, don’t forget things like pet food, shampoo, soap, garbage bags, bleach, toothpaste, toilet paper, ziploc bags, paper towels, matches, etc.  Some of those things are not necessarily necessities, but they will sure make life more pleasant if you have them.   🙂   Most of those items can be stored in a storage building where temperature is not as critical.
  • Be sure you have adequate water storage. This is the last one for now, but certainly not least in importance.  You can survive longer without food than you can water.  It is essential to have at least 2 weeks worth of water put back for every person in your home – one gallon per person/day.  If you have your own well or a stream nearby, you are ahead of probably 90% of Americans (be sure you know how to purify the water!).  For the rest of us, bottled water will suffice.  The LARGE bottles you see in offices on dispensers are relatively cheap – less than $7 in most places, and the largest holds about 5 gallons.  For a family of 3, you would need 42 gallons of water for 2 weeks.  That sounds like a lot, but it includes amounts needed for cooking also.  Two weeks will at least give you time to explore other options on where to obtain water – even if it means digging a well or cistern.
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