Grocery Budgets and the Storage Pantry
I have been reading all over the Internet about this subject lately it seems to be the latest trend. I think to myself-WOW you’re a gal’ ahead of your time. By this I mean I have be doing this my entire adult life, my mother and grandmother did this. I actually thought EVERYONE ran their house this way. I live in the country, in New England, a trip to town for supper isn’t always that easy and takes up a lot of time and energy both your energy and fuel. Some days you aren’t going to town no matter how bad you want to go, the driveway isn’t plowed and there is a 12’ high snow bank at the end of it.
I see big lists and advise to go out and buy expensive glass storage containers and special storage buckets. I think… WHAT? Well maybe I have an advantage over others as I have always stored food in glass and have many already. I didn’t go out and buy them. Keep your eyes open and look around, try the local deli or restaurant for the large jars their condiments come in and ask them to save the jars for you. Check the local recycling center and save your own jars you think will work for other items. I have noticed lately most items are in plastic, can’t tell you the last time I saw a glass mayonnaise jar. Ask your family and friends to save the larger ones for you. Check yard sales.
I have in our cellar a large storage cupboard full of unopened items my family eats. This is the start of my shopping list. I know how much of what my family will eat and how often these items go on sale. When I take an item from this cupboard I write it on my list to replace. I always use the first in first out system to keep the stock fresh and use the oldest first.
I have a cupboard in the kitchen with open items we are currently using and most of this is in glass jars, and tins and I want to keep it fresh. When something is gone I go to the cellar take what I need to replace it and write it on my list.
How I do my weekly shopping:
First I will take my list of items I have used from my storage cupboard. I check the fridge for the perishable items that are low or have run out. I then check the sale flyer FOR THE STORE I SHOP AT and don’t bother with the rest. I then compare the two and write a new list of items I’m going to buy. Then check my coupon envelope against the sale flyer for the brand I was looking at. This works sometimes but mostly coupons don’t work for me.
I have learned from experience to never freeze meats in the package they came in. I always try to take a package of meat and make at least 2 meals out of it. A good size steak I cut in half, that’s more than enough meat for one meal. Take the time to purchase a good vacuum sealer and use it. Always take the time as soon as you get home to properly put away your groceries. Divide and store what needs to be. Wash and rinse the produce and place in storage containers. You just paid good money for that food take care of it and make it last.
If we had a food co-op in the area I’m sure this would be my favorite place to do my shopping. I’m not a fan of extra packaging and plastic and never have been. See I told you I’m ahead of my time… I do shop our local BJ’s wholesale only because that’s the only choice… Last year I shopped there 6 times and purchased gas 14 times, so I don’t think I will renew my membership. I know this because I track it all in my budgeting software right here on my computer. Add the cost of the membership into the cost of the food I purchased and I don’t think any of it was such a great deal. It would work out if I shopped there more often but I don’t. Some items in there are cost efficient but most are not. Just because a package is larger doesn’t always mean it costs less per unit/pound or contains less packaging. Do you math and figure it out. I also stop to think if I will use it up before it goes bad and how I’m going to store it. For example a 50# bag of rice will not keep well in the cloth package it came in. Do I have another way to store it and the containers? Freezing it would help but I wouldn’t want to use that much storage space on rice my family might only eat a few cups of in a month’s time. 50# would take our family over a year to eat. I do have glass containers I could use but would use a lot of them and again it might go bad before I use it, and what would I put things in I know we will use and replace.
There is a lot of advise out there to make weekly meal plans for say 6 weeks then simply rotate the weeks to add variety. This doesn’t work for me. I can plan on having salad and hamburgers for supper and by the time supper rolls around I may be deep into a project, be tired or just not feel like making that salad and end up with pancakes and fresh maple syrup and fruit. I do my meal planning from my cupboards and it’s what seems tasty at the time. I will take a piece of meat out in the AM and commit myself to that for the day or next few days but that’s as far as it goes. When planning a meal I will first check to see what we have for leftovers and what needs to be used up first then work around that. I hate throwing away food and hardly ever do.
When my boys were in school I always packed their lunch and tucked in a note, a piece of candy or fruit they didn’t know I had, or even $.50 for a treat from school just to let then know I was thinking about them and wanted their meal to be enjoyable. I do the same for my Husband and now with the cell phone, a day never goes by that he doesn’t call me or I don’t call him to see how the day is going over lunch. Even today both my boys are grown and call me at lunchtime or dinnertime to chat and catch up with family.
Stocking up on food is not a new idea but it’s a great idea! Many people never learned how or why it’s important, their lives where just to busy. I’m glad to see people are looking for ways to slow down and learn the ways of the simple life I have always had and love.
These photos have absolutely nothing to do with food or storage. They were taken in historic Downtown Winchester, VA on a recent trip to see family there. A town deep with history and tradition and that’s what stocking food and budgeting is — traditions and history. Ask most anyone who has always done it and they have tales on how and why they make their simple life work for them.