July 11, 2010

Pantry Principle and Stockpiling - Part 2

In continuing my story of how I got into stockpiling and why I do it, today I want to talk about how to know when a sale is a good deal – good enough to stock up.

Spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes, ketchup, beans
The coffee containers hold a variety of chocolate chips and other baking extras.

I started with the Grocery Game and this site helped me in the beginning to see when items were on sale at a stock up price. I keep track of the prices of everything I purchase in a spreadsheet program. Each week I enter my receipts into this spreadsheet and thereby I have a month by month accounting.

Try as I did I couldn’t important a pdf file into this post. Perhaps someone out there can help me. So, I will try to describe what this spreadsheet looks like.  I have these captions at the top of several columns:

1.  Item Description
2.  Store
3.  Date Purchased
4.  Item Price
5.  # of Items purchased
6.  Gross Amount
7.  Sale?
8.  Less Coupon savings
9.  Net Purchase Amount

I enter the Item Description such as frozen orange juice, then I enter the store name, the date purchased, the item price, the number of items I purchased and due to the magic of a spreadsheet it calculates the gross amount. I always enter whether it was a sale or not, enter any coupons I used and then voila, it gives me the net amount spent. After entering each item line by line, it is very easy to have the spreadsheet add up the total net amount along with any tax that I have added in. Then as the month goes along I can easily see my running tally of how much I have spent. Every month I start a new spreadsheet and keep each subsequent months stored in my computer.

This system works for me as I can easily see what I have spent so I can stay on track with my budget, it acts as a price book as I have a listing of all items I have purchased and what they cost.

Canisters of coffee, soups, broths, canned vegetables
home canned jams

With this spreadsheet, I can also track cycles of sales. For example, boneless chicken breasts go on sale every 6 weeks and so does string cheese. Shredded mozzarella goes on sale at 99 cents for an 8 oz. package about every 6 months. I buy what I need to get by to the next sale, which may be an annual event in some cases. In general I buy all my baking supplies at the holiday time and I have enough chocolate chips, nuts, sugar and flour for the year. I buy a year’s supply of canned cream soups and canned broth at holiday time when they are at their cheapest. In the summer time I stock up on canned pork n beans when they go on sale for as low as 20 cents a can.

When stocking up on any canned item, or for that matter any item, I always check the expiration dates. Depending on the product, most canned items do not expire for a year. Canned vegetables and fruits can have expiration dates that are longer than a year – closer to two years most of the time. Again, always check the expiration dates and with some careful planning you will end up with pantry items that are shelf stable for more than a year.

As to food for your freezer, you can find on the internet information for how long you can store meats, vegetables and fruits and other foods in the freezer. I follow those guideslines and keep that in mind when I am adding food to my freezer.

Again, don’t buy so much food at a great sale price and then let it expire or spoil. That isn’t saving you any money at all.

Meats, vegetables, fruit, bread, ice cream and more. 
(Yes those are a lot of hot dogs, but I got the majority for free or 25 cents and
I wasn't going to pass it up.  Hot dogs on the grill once a week is a summertime treat.)

Next post: A place to put your pantry items.

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