In my prior post of July 2nd, I posted that my grocery spending averaged $353.00 a month. In our household there are 3 people: myself, my husband and our 17 year old son. For some people $353.00 a month for grocery spending even with using coupons or stockpiling may seem high, and perhaps it is. Part of my grocery budget and planning involves taking meals to people who are sick and cookies or desserts to people as part of my ministry of hospitality. Also, I give food to our local Food Pantry to help those that need additional help in providing food to their families.
There are many reasons that I stockpile but I have narrowed it down to three.
1. Stockpiling and keeping a full pantry and freezer has helped me in my providing food to others and to my own family. It feels good to know that when I get a call from my pastor asking if I could provide a meal to someone, I can go to my pantry and freezer and provide a complete meal, along with disposable containers to put the meal in. (Yes disposable containers. I regularly get ziploc containers and bags for 25 cents each on sale and with a coupon.) In essence I shop in my pantry and freezer for everything I need. I always have plenty of ingredients on hand to cook meals for others and my family. For me, this is the ultimate in convenience.
Here are the toiletries, canning supplies, ziploc bags.
Next to the board games are the 25 cent boxes of ziploc containers
2. By taking advantage of buying food at the best price and stocking up, you truly are getting the most for your money. There is a great sense of accomplishment when you know that you are buying food for your family, and others, at the best possible deal on the market at that time.
I never make up a menu plan ahead of time. My menus come from what is on sale and what I have in my pantry and freezer.
3. Lastly, in case of any financial emergency, you can divert any money budgeted to groceries to that financial emergency and still feed your family. If the worst happened, I could get by with $15 a week for perishable grocery items and the rest would be made up with what I have on hand. I have plenty of baking supplies, meat, canned vegetables, canned fruits, cereals, soups, peanut butter, frozen meats, frozen vegetables, frozen fruits and more.
I would say that 90% of the groceries I purchase are purchased at rock bottom prices and most with coupons. I do buy things that are on sale with coupons that my family won’t eat. Why? If I can get a box of Hamburger Helper for 25 cents, I buy it for the Food Pantry. If I can get Colgate toothpaste at 50 cents or less, I buy it for the Food Pantry (my family prefers Crest). Often I am able to get deodorant for 25 cents and again, it is donated. I am always on the hunt for bargains that can translate into donations to those in need.
Click on the coupon label on my blog and you will see my posts on how I coupon and organize my coupons.
When I was growing up, my mom had a substantial pantry. She would always keep replenishing her pantry as she used things up. A month’s supply of bread was purchased at a day old bread outlet and stored in the freezer. My dad loved to garden and he grew all our vegetables. We went to farms to pick our own strawberries, blueberries, cherries and apples for mom to can or freeze for later use. My mom also made all of our jams and preserves.
My cousin was a farmer and we were able to purchase a pig and side of beef from him each year.
Why did my parents do this? My dad was a union factory worker. Many times in my childhood he would get laid off or the union would vote to strike. It was the pantry and freezer that kept us fed during those lean weeks/months. One time he was on strike for 9 months and there was no income. They never fell behind in the mortgage and we always had food to eat.
They were prepared. I equate it to the story of Joseph in the Bible. My parents stored up in the times of plenty to be prepared for the times of famine. They knew that hard times could happen at any time.
When I was working full time, I never thought about stocking up on sale items. I was too busy to think about it and frankly I felt it was easier to go to the store without a list and buy what I felt we needed.
In the months prior to becoming unemployed, I decided that I needed to put the pantry principle into action. At that time (February of 2009) I signed up for a membership in the Grocery Game. This site takes your local grocery store sales flyer and lets you know when the sale shows a rock bottom price and it also will show any coupon from the newspaper that you should use with that sale price. I easily recouped the $1.25 per week for the cost of the membership. I recently cancelled my membership as I no longer need this service. I now know when a sale price is the best price.
Canned fruits, vegetables, peanut butter, condiments and more
I had a freezer with some meat in it when I started out. I also had some canned goods (about 1 shelf) and some baking and cereal products. Because I knew I had about two weeks of groceries on hand already, I started out by buying only the deals that were on sale that week and worth stocking up. My grocery budget each week was $80 and I continued to use that amount of money to buy stockpiled items and whatever else I needed. Some weeks I spent less and when I did spend less, I saved the money for when I knew I would need more money – the holiday time. During the holidays there are some of the greatest sales of the year going on and I definitely wanted the extra money for stocking up at that time.
Many people that are starting out in stockpiling take some extra money and divert it to the grocery budget so that they can get a good start. My personal opinion is that you can start small – with an extra $10 a week and begin your stockpiling journey. You don’t have to take stockpiling to the level that I have taken it. Do what is comfortable and what you can manage.
In upcoming posts I will tackle the following: Knowing when a sale is really a great stock up sale, a place to put your items and a system to keep track of your pantry and freezer items.