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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Almost Painless Stocking-up

Frugal Kitchens 101
In the past couple of Frugal Kitchens 101 I have discussed ways to stock up the pantry along with a few tips for organizing and protecting your food supply. In previous posts I have spoke of larger bulk food purchases especially with respect for beef and pork. The problem with larger bulk purchases is they require a bigger outlay of money. While larger bulk purchases are quite necessary for creating a well stocked pantry including freezers it is surprising at how easily it is to stock up both with a little bit of creativity and just a few dollars per grocery shopping trip. So this week the topic for Frugal Kitchens 101 is almost painless stocking-up.

Have you ever heard the phrase take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves? Well the same principle holds true for stocking your pantry. Don't try to establish a one year food supply all at once! Do it in small, painless steps by constantly adding small amounts to your pantry while working from your personal usage list and keeping in mind never to stock something your family may not/will not use.

  1. use a percentage of your food budget - If your food budget is $100 use 5 - 10% strictly for stocking up. That is if you have budgeted $100 for that grocery shopping trip, use $5 - 10 for stock-up items preferably bought on sale. It is surprising at how much you can buy for the pantry using only $5. This amount is enough to buy 4 - 5 lb dried beans or 6+ tins of tuna or 5+ bags dried pasta or 3 bags of sugar or even 10 cans of canned vegetables. If you do this every grocery shopping trip and you will find your pantry filling up in no time without you even missing that $5 per grocery shopping trip.
  2. bank those coupon savings - I'm not a big coupon user because we seldom get coupons for what we use and there is no such thing as doubling them. However, if you use coupons set up a bulk food fund jar or envelope. If you save $5 on your grocery bill buy using coupons put the savings into your bulk food fund. It won't be long before you have a tidy little sum saved up that can be used towards a bulk meat purchase or a pantry shopping spree.
  3. bank your actual vs budget difference - If you budgeted $100 for a grocery shopping trip but the total came to $97 take the $3 difference and put that in your bulk food fund. You had planned on spending it anyway so this is just saving it for spending at a later date.
  4. bank your garden savings - Home gardens can save quite a bit of money. For example we eat salad greens almost daily. Growing them saves me anywhere from $5 - $10 per week. The savings are fair game for the bulk food fund.
  5. be prepared to take advantage of sales - This really goes without saying however taking advantage of sales is an excellent way to help stock-up. You really need to be flexible. The real sales quite often are unadvertised in store specials. So with you 5 - 10% of your grocery budget destined for pantry stock-up look for these in store specials. Quite often I will leave the house figuring I am going to stock-up on item A but when I get to the store there is a great deal on item B so I buy item B instead.
  6. invest some time - There are several commercially made convenience mixes available and on the surface they seem like a good deal especially when on sale for 99¢. The reality is you are paying upwards of 60¢ per mix just for the convenience of the factory putting it together for you plus you have the packaging to deal with. Invest a bit of time to make your own mixes. For example in less than 15 minutes you can assemble 10 cake mixes in mason jars ready to use just as commercial mixes for a fraction of the cost and just as convenient. You now have 10 cake mixes in your pantry at an approximate cost of $3 vs $9.90 and less than 15 minutes of time. Do the same thing for any mix you would normally buy. There are a lot of online sites with home made mix recipes. Virtually all of these mixes will come in at a third or less than the cost of commercial mixes.
  7. home canning - I can't stress enough how much money this can save you even if you have to buy the produce. If you have a pressure canner which I highly recommend as it will pay for itself in food savings in less than 3 months you can take advantage of most produce and meat/poultry/fish in store sales. I picked up pork shoulder roast for $1/lb and canned up several jars for a very convenient, low cost pantry shelf product. Store bought canned chicken or ham usually goes for about 99¢ per 4 oz can. Chicken often goes on sale here for 69¢ per lb so I can that at a cost to me of 17¢ per 4 oz yet it is the same product only I've saved 82¢ per 4 oz.
  8. once stocked - Once fully stocked at a year to 18 month supply you will find yourself not doing a lot of grocery shopping. Shop only when necessary which will save on impulse buying. The exception to this rule is cherry picking the good sales but again only if it something you will use. In order for your pantry to run smoothly you need to rotate the food but now you have a focus of maintaining your supply. For example, when you get to the half way mark of any food item in your pantry make note of that. Now start watching the sales so that by the time you get to the quarter mark you will have with any luck replenished your supplies. The focus becomes that particular food item. For example your supply of home canned or home frozen chicken is getting low. Chicken is going on sale next week so wait until it goes on sale then buy 30 lb which at my price would be $20.70. In the same grocery trip I would likely pick-up milk, eggs, produce and any cheese we needed so my shopping trip would come in at less than $40 total for that week. That night chicken would be on the menu then the rest divided in half with part going towards canning and the other half into the freezer. Now the following week I really don't need anything so don't do a grocery shopping. And so it goes with the food in the pantry being constantly rotated and yet remaining at a year to 18 month supply.


3 food lovers commented:

A Year on the Grill said...

Thanks for the tips..Excellent post.

Suzanne said...

great tips, thanks for sharing!

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks everyone! I hope you found the tips useful :)