May 09, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 20 - May 9th

Today Amy will discuss a big component to her living a frugal/tightwad lifestyle and that is the Pantry Principle.  If you have been a reader of my blog, you know that I embrace the Pantry Principle as a big part of my life. 

Did anyone make muffins from the Create a Muffin recipe? I would love to hear from you.

Well, let's get down to today's reading.


A reader wrote in to say that sometimes she only needs 1/2 lb. of ground meat or two chicken legs and she doesn’t like to freeze them in large hard to divide lumps. She takes a bread bag and puts a small amount of meat in the bottom of the bag, ties it off with a twist tie and then continues moving all the way up the bag. Just snip off the portion that you need.

Be sure to turn the bread bag inside out as I read somewhere that the paint on the outside of the bag is toxic.


Amy begins this article by telling that many people admonish others that if they want to save money they need to make up a menu plan for 30 days. At the very least, people will tell you that you should plan meals 1 week in advance working with the grocery sales for that week. I know there are women who really feel that this is the way to go, but Amy prefers a different way to feed her family. Do what works for you.

Amy feels that planning your meals entirely in advance is backward. You should never decide first what you want to eat and then go out and buy the food for the following reasons.

1. Your predetermined plan will not coincide with what’s on sale;

2. Stick to your list thinking doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the unadvertised deals; and

3. During the course of your long range menu plan you may discover you need to use up a perishable or clean out the leftovers from your crammed freezer.

Amy goes on to say that long range planning probably evolved as a solution for the individual who went to the grocery store several times a week or went out to eat all the time. If that is the case, they would have saved money over what they had previously done.

Amy advocates the Pantry Principle over the above methods as the way to save the most on groceries and in feeding your family.

“The basic premise is that you stockpile your pantry (and/or kitchen, freezer, basement, closet and/or the space under your bed) with food purchased at the lowest possible price. The sole purpose of grocery shopping becomes replenishing your pantry, not buying ingredients to prepare specific meals.”

The pantry principle means scanning the sales flyers each week for good deals, and then buying in quantity when those good deals roll around. When you see a good deal, look at what you have on hand and decide how much to buy. Amy said that even if they have 20 lbs. of flour on hand, she will go ahead and purchase flour if the price is right. Me too. If properly stored, it will keep just fine.

Amy goes on to say that this way of buying groceries is not just for large families, but for singles also.

Amy also stockpiles larger quantities of food that go on sale less frequently. As time goes on you will get to know what those items are. Sometimes they make a mistake and run out of an item, such as chicken, but they don’t run out and pay full price for chicken, they wait for a sale and eat other sale purchased meats instead.

The whole goal to the pantry principle is to stock up on sale items with a goal of having a full pantry/freezer. When that is accomplished you will then make up your meals from the pantry/freezer and replenish as needed.

I shop once a week for my main groceries and shop as needed for fresh produce and milk. As I have said in other articles, I walk past two grocery stores on my way to work out at Curves each day, so it is easy to stop in and pick up some bananas or milk or whatever I need. Also, I’m not tempted to pick up more than I need since I can’t carry a whole bunch of stuff home with my workout bag.

After Amy and her family have finished eating their evening meal, she decides what they will have to eat the following evening. While her husband helps her clean up the kitchen, she will take out meat from the freezer to thaw in the fridge or she will put some beans in water to soak overnight. Thawing foods in advance means she can also put food in the Crockpot in the morning.

As a final note Amy said that this whole concept of stocking up when items are on sale applies to other areas of the frugal life. For example she shops garage sales in the summer for clothing that will be needed later on in the year. She also shops at garage sales for anything that she will need to replace throughout the year such as sneakers, backpacks and lunch boxes.

Because she has implemented the pantry principle in all areas of her life, when they need something they just go shopping in their attic.

I believe in this philosophy whole heartedly. That is why you will never see a weekly menu plan on my blog. I always decide what to have for dinner the next evening while I am cleaning up supper that evening. Tonight we had a chuck roast, seasoned rice, green beans and ice cream. I have enough roast for tomorrow night but only enough of the rice and beans for 1 person. I also have 1 cooked potato in the fridge. Tomorrow I will heat up the rice, fry the potato and heat up some additional green beans. This will ensure that we will have a nice meal tomorrow night but won’t have any additional leftovers.

I try very hard to make just enough to go with the leftovers to be eaten at that meal. I never want to keep producing leftovers from leftovers.

I watched a documentary this weekend in which a town in Ohio was losing a major industry that employed thousands of people. One woman that was interviewed said that she was stockpiling food while her husband still had his job so that they would be able to eat while he was collecting an unemployment check. This is an excellent idea. It’s great to have a monetary emergency fund, but having a great supply of food (3 months or more) on hand will help to make an unemployment check stretch further.

I have posted my grocery savings in a while. I will have to get that done this week. We keep eating out of the pantry and freezer and have been doing so since March and it has saved us quite a bit of money. So, I guess you could say that I am totally sold on the Pantry Principle.

For tomorrow read pages 179 through 185. One of the articles in tomorrow’s reading is entitled “The Frugal Balance.” Which is pretty interesting.

As a warning, I am finishing up painting my living room this week as we have my son’s graduation party on May 20th. My goal is to finish the living room this week and then start cleaning next week and getting ready for the party. I’m feeling a little time constrained as I also plan on making the buns for the party. So, if I am short on time, I may have to post every other day for the next 10 days.


Anonymous said...

I agree I buy what is on sale and never have a set menu of what we will have because schedules change at the drop of a hat. The roast and chicken we made on sunday was eaten sunday, tonight and i will use the rest in quesidillas(sp) tomorrow

Congratulations on graduation and when will you be over to start painting my living room ;)


Phoebe said...

I love love love your blog. I found it I guess a week or so ago. I so agree with most of what you say and am happy you have chosen to stay at home.
What was the name of that documentary you watched about that Ohio town?
My husband and I live outside of Raleigh, NC.
Lee Ann

Martha said...


I want to be done by Saturday. But, today the heat index is at 100 degrees and we haven't put our window air conditioners in the house yet, so I am trying to do other chores right now. It's too hot to do much of anything.

@Phoebe: It was a 60 minutes episode that was on CNBC last week entitled "The Winter of Our Hardship." It aired in 2009 and with an update in 2010. The main focus was on the town of Wilmington, Ohio. DHL, the shipping company, was located there and DHL was going under and they were laying people off right and left.

Phoebe said...

I watched that show when it aired on 60 Minutes. It was so sad to see almost an entire town suffer with DHL leaving. I remember that lady talking about buying one or two more items when she could afford it. It is so easy for those of us who have jobs to sit and comment on what we would do or say this is what we would do if we were that person but it is entirely different when it is you and not only you but your entire community. I wonder how they all are doing now.