Food Storage/Stocked Pantry (Part 2)

Take a good inventory of what you have on hand now. You will be surprised at what you have hidden in the back of your cabinets! You will probably find some things that you think to yourself, "Why on earth did I buy this?". Check all your expiration dates. A lot of items are perfectly fine after the expiration date as long as it isn't years after the date, that is. Obviously if you question it, it is best to throw it away. If the can is bulging, throw it away. If there is any kind of leakage, throw it away. Here is a good link to some Food Storage Guidelines. This is the time to start using up some of your older stocked food. You bought it, use it. The items that are getting ready to expire or are the oldest, place them in front of your newer food items.

From this day forward, get into the habit of marking your pantry items with the date you purchased them.

Now it is time to decide how much of a food storage you want to have. One month? Three months? Six Months? A year? Personally, three months is the bare bone minimum for me. Why? Because when our emergency happened we had no income coming in for a couple of months, and fortunately I had built up a decent 3 month supply pantry and so, food was not something we had to worry about buying. Believe me, 3 months worth of food storage is not very much. But, it can be a life saver when you are extremely strapped on cash!

Times are very difficult right now for a lot of us when it comes to money. Many people laid off or completely lost their jobs. So some of you may be saying, "This food storage thing is a great idea but, I can't afford to go out and stock up!" Personally, I can't afford to go out and plunk down a big amount of cash either. So, how do you get your pantry going? It can be overwhelming to even think about. But, it really isn't that hard.

First thing I want you to do is go get an envelope and mark on the front of it "PANTRY". Now think realistically. How much money a week can you use exclusively for stocking up? This is not part of your grocery money. This is completely separate.

When I first started my food storage, I truly could only afford $5.00. And some weeks, that was even difficult to get. So, if that is what you can afford, then that is what you will have. There are no rules as to how much you have to spend. If $5.00 is too much, how about $2.00-$3.00? Seriously, you just start with whatever you can honestly commit to. You can raise your amount as often as you can but, you must commit to a minimum.

Okay, now that you have your minimum amount stashed in you PANTRY envelope it is time to check out the local ads. Don't forget to check for coupons to match great sales at the store. The best things to check at grocery stores is what is called "Loss Leaders". These are the items that the store is selling super cheap. Why do they do this? Because it is to get you into the store. They figure it is best to get you coming in for that incredible deal and then while you are there, you will pick up this and that. It's kind of like a door prize for shopping at their store. And trust me, this works. I was in retail management for over 15 years, I know the benefit of just getting the customer in our doors instead of the competitors doors. Think about it. how often have you gone into a store with the intention of just getting one or two particular items and then while you are there you see something you totally forgot you needed and then something is on sale and you really have been wanting that? Next thing you know, you have several items in your cart that you had not planned on buying on that trip. That is the whole point of Loss Leaders.

Remember, the less you spend for the item, the more you can stretch your PANTRY money. So, I really encourage you to look for coupons and if they can be "stacked", all the better (a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon). Also keep an eye on which stores offer the best coupon pricing. Does one store double the coupon up to .50 cents all the time? Is one store having a triple coupon week? Get to know your store's policy with coupons and when they double or triple them.

All right, you have searched the ads (don't forget to use the internet for searching, it's a great resource!) and have found an item(s) that your family enjoys and it is something that will store easily. You go into the store WITHOUT any other source of money except for your PANTRY envelope and buy as much as you are able to get with that amount. That is it. You do NOT buy anything else. If you have any change leftover, it goes back into the PANTRY envelope. That is one way of slowly building up your pantry money. A few extra coins here and there will eventually add up.

Now if you do not see any great deal on an item, that's fine. Leave that money in your PANTRY envelope. Next week you will have double the money in case something really good goes dirt cheap!

If you have more money to spend in your PANTRY envelope and see a couple of really great priced items, by all means, stock up on them as much as your PANTRY money will allow. Every so often, you might find you can drop an extra dollar or two in your PANTRY envelope. But, always make sure you put your committed PANTRY amount in the envelope each week. Any extra is bonus! Please don't discount change (coins). People have a tendency to not think of coins as "real" money. Think of it this way, it could buy you an extra box of macaroni and cheese, a can of tuna, a can of soup and many other stock up items that go on sale for great prices. So what if it is just one can or box, it all adds up.

There are exceptions to all rules. I stated that I want you to go into the store with just your PANTRY money and ONLY buy your stock up item(s). The point of this is to get you into the habit of not looking around in the store or "just going to pick up this one other small item" type of thinking. It is a very difficult mind set to get into. So it takes a lot of determination to do it. With that said, I know that some people may not live close to their stores of choice or for whatever reason it is not feasible to make several trips to the store (one just for PANTRY items and another for regular grocery shopping). With the price of gas, it just isn't thrifty and thrifty is what we are trying to achieve. So, for those of you that are unable to just run down the street to the grocery store, here is what I want you to do. Go into the store with your PANTRY envelope ONLY and get what you planned to get for your stock up item(s). Cash out. Go out to your car, put away your bag and your PANTRY envelope and then go back in and do whatever other shopping you need to do.

If you have extra spending money throughout the week and see something while you are out that would add to your pantry and the price is really good, by all means get what you can afford. This is seperate from your designated PANTRY envelope.

We want to develop a habit. It takes determination like I said to get into the habit of doing this. But, you can and you will be so proud of yourself for doing it! As a matter of fact, I would love to hear from any of you what your "stock up" purchase was this week. So please, leave a comment on this post. We can do this!

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