July 13, 2010

Pantry Principle and Stockpiling - Part 3

This is my last in a three part series on stockpiling and having and maintaining a large pantry. Today I will talk about where to put your pantry items and a system for tracking those items.

I live in a house that was built in the late 1800’s. My large pantry is in my basement and I take precautions to make sure everything is stored safely. All of my canned goods are stored on shelves, my flour and sugar are stored in Rubbermaid bins, boxes of crackers, cereals and snack items are also stored in plastic bins. Basically if it isn’t in a can or plastic container, I store it in a bin.

Bins of flour, sugar, pastas, cereals, some snacks

My freezer is located in the basement and I also store my paper products and toiletries on shelves in the basement also.

Paper towels, napkins - using them sparingly as I switch to rags and cloth napkins
Toilet paper purchased for $5.00 or less for 12 double rolls
Laundry soaps purchased for $1.50 or less

I have lived in small apartments and in houses and if I wanted to stockpile, I would have been able to do it in any place we lived. More than once I wish we would have bought a small chest freezer years ago when we were apartment dwellers as we could have saved a bundle on meat. Also, even in a tiny one bedroom apartment that we lived in, we could have stored items under the couch and under the bed. If I would have been in the mindset we could have found places in that apartment to “hide” pantry items. Why didn’t we? I have no idea. Perhaps it was feeling like I was newly married and we were both working “professionals” so we should be able to go to the grocery store and buy anything we wanted and not worry about watching the sales.

Freebie chinet cups and plates - sales matched with coupons

If I wanted to go to a level of hoarding or even to becoming a survivalist, I could store 20 times more pantry supplies in our present home, but I choose not to. When I started stockpiling, my goal was to have a 4 month supply of food on hand and I have reached that goal. For some items such as canned fruits and vegetables, soups, coffee and baking supplies, I have a year’s supply. What I am trying to say is that on hand at this moment I can supply us with 4 months of meals and will only have to add milk and some perishable items each week to what I have on hand. In addition I also have plenty of soap, toiletries and paper products on hand that go beyond a 4 month’s supply.

This brings me to a hoarding. I have stopped buying several items for my pantry as I am totally stocked up on canned vegetables and soups, for example. Even if they go on sale at a rock bottom price, I won’t buy them as I have plenty. I saw on t.v. recently a woman that stockpiled and then couldn’t stop and became a hoarder. She had gotten in the mindset of getting a thrill at getting great deals and she couldn’t stop. Perhaps some people will look at the pictures I have posted over the past few days and think that I am hoarding, but I am not. I have passed up deals because I have enough of an item.

The entire idea of stockpiling is reaping the benefits of buying at rock bottom prices and building your “inventory.” As time goes by and as you have built up your supply, you can cut back and direct that money into other areas of the budget.

It’s okay to stop buying. You have done your work by building up your pantry and the good news is, since you know when things go on sale you will be able to buy more when you need it.

Now that I have reached my goal of a 4 month supply of food, it is easy for me to keep that 4 month supply maintained each week by using up items and continuing to stockpile when those prices are low and add to what I have used up OR I can take a break from grocery buying and use the money for other purposes OR in case of a financial emergency, we are set with 4 months of food.

Stockpiling can completely go down the tubes if you don’t use the items you purchased prior to expiration dates. Here is the system that I use.

Before putting anything in my pantry, I take a marker and write the expiration date on the package so I can easily see when the item will expire. Then I write each item I have purchased on my pantry list. This list consists of the following headings: Item, Number of Items, Expiration Date OR Purchase date. 

As you buy items on different weeks you may end up having a few lines for one item to accomodate the different expiration dates.  For example you would write diced tomatoes - 5 cans - expiring 10/11 and underneath I would write - diced tomatoes - 3 cans - expiring 12/11.

I have a similar list posted on the outside of my freezer. When I take anything out of the pantry or the freezer I simply cross it off. Each month I update these lists in Excel. At that time I take note of any items that are going to expire within the next two months. If I don’t believe I will be using an item before it expires, I donate it. I am donating these items 2 months before they are due to expire which I feel is reasonable. I would never, never donate an item that is past expiration.

I keep track of all of my “inventory” this way. This is my system and it works for me.  It doesn’t take very long for me to empty the groceries from the bags, mark them, add them to a list and then put them on the shelf or in the freezer.

It is easy each week to menu plan or to shop from the information on these lists. I can identify what is going to expire and work those items into my menus. I see at a glance how much spaghetti sauce I have on hand, for example, and if I have plenty on hand, I skip the stockpile sale.

This is not for everyone and I realize it. For me this is a system that works and makes me feel like I am getting the most for my money for my family’s groceries, am prepared for an emergency, am able to make a bigger impact on giving to the local Food Pantry, and I have the ease of always being able to supply meals to someone who is sick or just got out of the hospital.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have just came across your blog and LOVE IT! I stockpile down in my basement too. I write the expiration date on front of all my can goods, etc. Also, I make it fairly large to make it easier for my eyes not having to strain to see the dates. I also keep a inventory list of all the items and this really helps. The one thing I truly need to do is make a price book...I just been putting it off but after reading your blog
I will start putting one together. Thank you for all your good advice. I'll be checking back daily to read your wonderful posts and your older ones. Many Blessing to you and your family!

Linda from Georgia