In part one of this article, we addressed how food prices can crash your budget. We also mentioned how everyone can create a successful food plan based on their own personal budgets and how setting up a plan involves communication, especially when planning for an entire family.
The most logical question brought up by those interested in saving money by storing food is how to do so, and how to afford it. Paying for a plan can be as simple as $10 a week; less if you are saving and storing for yourself. No one should run up debt to initiate a plan such as this. The idea is to save, remember? Credit card purchases will simply add a complication that most people do not need. Avoid the temptation and the service fees. Unless there are emergent circumstances, starting to save by storing food should start small and build over time.
Use coupons, budget stores and sales
If you're seriously wanting to save money, let the companies who put out the brands help you pay for it. There is a growing number of online coupon sites, and newspaper advertising and store flyers are still going strong. Some stores also cater to those with small budgets. While a brand-named can of peas looks more appealing, many times the budget stores carry the same peas but they are simply labeled differently. Don't be fooled by the pictures on the packaging.
If a particular store - even your favorite one to buy from - is having a sale, get the items you need/want as soon as you can. Canned foods are often on sale because a store has an excess inventory, is phasing out a brand or just wants the customers to step through their doors. Often, those same stores will have bargains like four canned items for the price of two. Don't let the opportunity to take advantage of their advertisements for granted unless you've already exhausted your budgeted money for food.
Staple storage items to get you started
- Drinking water - you can purchase it at a store, or you can use your own tap water or well source to store water. Contrary to common belief, the best storage container is not a sanitized plastic milk jug. The best containers to store water in are items with thicker plastic and a lid that seals tightly. My recommendation is an empty, clean and sanitized 2 liter bottle of soda. I recently purchased a bottle of drinking water for $.99 in a similar container - packaged straight from the distributor.
- Powdered milk - With the prices of liquid milk expected to skyrocket, powdered milk is a fantastic alternative. I recently priced a 25 ounce box (which makes around eight quarts when water is added) at a highly-favored local grocery store for around $4.
- White rice - I like to store rice that cooks in around five minutes, but you can save a lot of money if you buy it in plastic bags instead of cardboard boxes. Plus, you don't have to worry if the box gets wet. For a five pound bag of rice, I was able to find it at two different stores for about $1.50.
- All-purpose flour - I shopped around and found that a bag of flour (10 pounds) was between $2 - $3. At the discount store, I found a five pound bag on sale for just over $1.
- Canned tuna and chicken - Tuna is usually quite a bit cheaper than canned chicken. Both provide essential nutrients and protein. Test out the different brands and definitely shop around for the best prices. Tuna and chicken are better for you if packaged in water, but don't be afraid to buy it if packaged in oil if it's on sale. I recently bought four cans of tuna and two cans of chicken for less than $5.
Adding to your storage
The idea of storing in the first place is to make sure you aren't caught off guard and are able to feed yourself. After you have created a budget and know which foods you want to eat and want to store, simply add to it. Don't go over your budget if at all possible. If you are under your budget, don't spend the extra money - save more by rolling it over into the next month's plan.
A sample budget plan:
- Month One: Purchase and store staple items (like the ones mentioned above) and a few extra foods that you can afford and will be eaten.
- Month Two: Add two or three more staple items and use the extra money to buy foods you'll eat that you can store.
- Month Three: Add one or two staple items, etc.
- Month Four - Six: Repeat the process (months one through three)
By following the sample above, it is possible to store at least 3 months of food or more. Every time you purchase items, remember to put the newest items towards the back of the storage shelf or pantry you choose to use and move the older items forward (called rotation).
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