Put your money where your mouth is….
Or you could call this post…
Food Storage Budgets
What ever you want to call it, in this day and age of uncertainty, recession, and natural disasters I am convinced it is wise to stock your home well. That is of course within your budget. No one I know has a magical bag of endless gold from which to pull funds from, I know I don’t. And most hate budgeting or even the thought of it because the word brings to mind restrictions. No one likes restriction in any form.
Actually for me a budget frees me from worry. If planned well- there are funds where I need them when I need them. It reduces stress. A budget doesn’t have to be some big fancy spread sheet that takes hours a week to keep track of. Just the opposite, a budget should be fun to watch grow & shrink to evolve with your family and your current situations. A budget is a working, active tool that aids in your security and well-being.
Put together your budget and keep it as simple as you can. You might want to start with only a few categories to keep track of and work with. You might need one that is a bit more involved, and that’s good if you are tracking expenses and want a better picture of where your money is going and where you want it to go.
Here I like to use a cash budget and money envelopes. At the beginning of each month I put in cash and as I need it I will spend it and return to the envelope my receipts. A pretty simple system for me and it keeps me from taking money from our bank accounts. I think with cash in your hand you are not as tempted to splurge as you would be with a credit or ATM card.
In talking with so many people in all walks of life in and around my community, on the web, the online forums I have seen a shifting of returning to a slower life, being prepared, and making do with what we have. I think for the wise the days of big spending and NEEDING to have all the latest gadgets and fashions are gone. I personally hope it stays that way.
What is being prepared? Only you can answer that question. But for us it is:
- a good 3-6 months of food well stocked. Some say a year’s worth, but that takes lots of space.
- supplies- fuel, batteries, paper goods, first-aid supplies
- animal supplies, feed, medications, equipment for them
- well stocked gardening supplies
- well stocked canning/freezing supplies
- a good working budget
- a stable savings account
- reducing our debt, not creating new debt
- finding ways to become more self-sufficient, sewing, knitting, gardening, general home making.
So the BIG question is HOW to finance it. For me breaking down our food budget into categories has helped. I come up with a yearly amount then put that much into my cash envelopes every month. Some times I don’t use money from an envelope and it just builds up until I do use it. Our gardening envelope is a good example of this.
- weekly perishables
- pantry/freezer food
- food/garden supplies
Every month there are certain types of food on sale. That month I may borrow money from another envelope to take advantage of an extra special sale. This month the picnic type of things such as ketchup, bbq sauces, mustard, propane canisters for the grill, and paper goods are on sale. Add to that the coupons that are out and the savings add up. I will stock up for the year on this type of foods. Later in the year I will be making my own ketchup and canning it if the tomatoes do well this year. Last year they did not do well so we are using store bought.
I know from keeping shopping and food inventory records what quantities of each food our family needs until they go on sale again. I just hate to buy anything that is not on sale if I don’t have to. Also from keeping my lists that most items go on sale every 6 weeks or every 3 months or so. I also know that just because a store advertises in their sale flyer that something is on sale some times it is the same price it has been all along, so it’s not a sale at all.
A quick word about coupons. Now before I even start there are some who will tell me I am wrong and for the most part maybe I am. You can find examples all over the internet of women who carry home $100 or more of groceries and using coupons & rebates pay $30 for the week. That I can not argue, but take a good look at the food and I ask myself if I could feed my family healthy meals from it and the answer for me is NO. I will not trade quality food for the sake of saving a few dollars.
I have noticed that in our area most coupons are for items that are from manufactures who’s products even on sale are more expensive than other brands. That most coupons are for pre-packaged and highly processed foods, that most coupons are for junk food/ snacks, cleaning supplies, beauty products that our family simply do not use.
Now that is to say I did bring them home, just last week Hamburger Helper was on sale and with my coupons I paid 49 cents a box for it (usually $2.29 a box). I kept a few here at the house because my nice enjoys them and the rest went to the food pantry, some 30 boxes of the stuff.
I do check the coupons every week and match what I can use against the sales at the store. Some weeks it works out and other weeks there is nothing… I just keep looking and use them when I can. What also happens is a sale will happen on a week I do not do shopping, oh’ well I missed it, I will not make a special trip to the store just because something is on sale unless it’s an exceptional sale and my budget has the funds for it. Remember the BUDGET, if the envelope is empty it’s empty and I have to wait to fill it again.
When you take a look at your budget you will quickly see that food and supplies needed to grow, can and preserve these foods can take up a good portion of your monthly budget. While it hurts I do not see it at necessarily a bad thing, after all good quality food is what keeps us healthy and happy and saves money in other areas such as doctors and dentists. With three grown men in the house, my family likes to eat, and eat they do.
One of the best places to help your food budget is right in your own back yard. Gardening and growing your own fruits and vegetables will take time if you are new to it but it will pay of in a few years. Some pay off in only a few weeks. The next best place to look could be the farmer’s markets, co-ops, road side stands and health food stores.
Raising your own chickens is another money saver on several levels. Fresh eggs, fertilizer, meat, bug control and cheap entertainment.