Before I start I want to share a little about myself and one of the reasons why I advocate a deep pantry so strongly.
There have been two times in my life where I wasn’t sure where the next meal was coming from. One of those times I had two small children and my Husband had lost his job and was having a very hard time finding another. (There is a lot more to it but for the short simple version). Anyways money was super tight and there were a few times I didn’t know if I was even going to have food for dinner. Well we got through that but money was still pretty tight and I swore I would never be in a position where I had to wonder if I could feed my kids.
As I said even after he went to work money was still tight, but I started cooking everything from scratch, sewing mine and my daughter’s clothes (even underwear), stretching every penny I could so I could put some food back for hard times. I would buy hamburger on sale (back then I could get it for 99 cents a pound) I would get close to 4 meals from 1 pound of hamburger.
I have learned a lot since then about saving money, having a deep pantry and doing as much as I can myself and for next to nothing.
Okay you are seeing where things are going in the world and you know you need to get food put back for if things get real ugly, or a natural disaster happens (you never know what or when). But you barely have enough money to get by month to month.
Starting a deep Pantry/ Food storage when money is super tight can be a little daunting to say the least. First off, don’t get discouraged. When you see where someone is, who has been working on a deep pantry/ food storage for years, believe me they started with nothing and had to work at it to get where they are. It takes lots of little baby steps. It also takes determination and the willingness to make a few sacrifices. Remember this will not happen overnight it takes time. But it can be done. Here are some ideas to help.
Just a note I reference City Market (Kroger) most of the time. It is the grocery store in my area that I mostly use. I know a lot of you don’t have one where you are so just look for the store in your area that is cheapest, I have heard that Aldi is great so just go with what you have.
1. Figure out a budget, and keep track of every penny you spend. This will help you see where you spend and where you can cut.
2. You can go here for 201 ways to save money, some that maybe you hadn’t thought of.( I have done and still do most every one of these). Every penny, every dime, you save is a little more you can put towards your deep pantry/ food storage.
3. Learn to cook from scratch. I cannot stress enough how important this is, you save a ton of money, it’s way more healthy, and it cuts down what you need in your food storage. (You don’t need boxed dinners, mixes, ect. You can make your own). If you work try and do the majority of your cooking on the weekend. If you do this you can just pull something from the freezer and not be so tempted to pick up something on the way home. Make a menu and try to follow it.
4. Learn skills. If you can sew just a little you can mend or make some of your clothes (esp. children’s clothes). Make your own soap ect. The more skills you have the less money you need to spend on these things, the more money for your deep pantry/ storage. If there is something you want to learn to do, ask around generally there is someone out there that would love to teach you. If not u tube has a ton of how to videos.
5. Do not cater to picky eaters. I have a rule in my house I cook for my Husband if the kids do not like it they go hungry, or learn to eat it. (I know harsh) It doesn’t really take that long for them to come around to eating what I am cooking. Like they say picky eaters are made not born. In my daycare I can tell which kids have to eat what is given to them at home and the ones that look at something and say they don’t like it and don’t have to eat it. The ones that have to eat what is given them will eat whatever I give them. The ones that don’t are very hard to feed. Having to learn to eat these foods during a crisis situation is going to be a whole lot harder on them then learning to eat them now.
6. Grow as much as you can. If space is tight there are a lot of ideas on the internet for small space gardening. If water is an issue use drip systems, container gardening, collect your rain water, use water that you save in the house from waiting on hot water, there are lots of ways to save water so you have water for your garden. (I will be doing a post soon on water, water storage and saving on water.)
7. Buy on sale and in season. When something comes on sale buy as much as you possible can. Even if it isn’t on your list for that week put whatever was on the list in the place of what you just bought (say soup is on sale this week but the list says flour, buy the soup and when soup is on the list buy flour). Buy in season it general is much cheaper when in season. Don’t forget after holiday and end of season sales.
8. Yard sales, auctions and second hand stores, always be on the lookout for things you need. Just be careful not to over pay and don’t get things you really don’t need. Have a list with you of things you are looking for.
9. Think outside the box. You just found a whole stack of sheets at the second hand store for next to nothing. Do you look at them and think well I have enough sheets, these are the wrong size. Or do you think what I could use these for. Make curtains, dresses for your daughter, shirts for your son, cut in do dish rags, backing for a quilt, cut into cloth paper towels, so many things you can do with that stack of sheets if you are always thinking outside the box.
10. Barter, If someone has an excess of fruit or vegetables or anything that you can use for that matter, try to trade them for something you have or trade for work.
11. Know your prices. I made a list of all the things that I buy (We have 3 stores in our town one is Safeway which for what buy is way too expensive and they always seem to have a limit on the sales. That leaves City Market and Wal-mart.)Then I went to Wal-mart with my list and wrote down the price of everything I buy. I now had a base for prices, when something came on sale at city Market I could compare prices. If the sale was cheaper I would go and buy as much as I could afford. City Market (Krogrer) is real good at ordering cases if you want a couple cases of something. Be sure to check your unit price also sometimes the larger container isn’t always the cheaper.
12. On my Food Storage Challenge I have two Items, the first is the most important, it is for two people so if you have four people in your house you will need to double that. This will get you your basic basics so if money is real tight this is what to get. The second is extras that would be nice to have so if you have a little extra money try to get some of these. I also have skills to learn every month and things to get or make if you can.
13. When storing water you do not need to go and buy all bottled water. Use containers you have around the house, ask friends and family for their soda bottles, Gatorade bottles, juice bottles, even bleach bottles,(when I was a kid and my Dad always had a bleach bottle filled with drinking water.) Fill them with tap water. You can use laundry soap bottles for non-potable (non drinking water) to use for washing dishes, flushing etc. water. I don’t recommend milk jugs but if they are all you have then use them just be sure to wash them very well and watch them for leaking.
14. Put away as much extra money as you can even if it is only a couple dollars at a time (it all adds up). This has two purposes, one you are building a little nest egg, and second you have a few extra dollars if something comes on sale you may be able to get a little more.
15. Can, freeze, and dehydrate as much as you can. If you don’t have a dehydrator look on the internet for ways to make your own, or do it the old fashion way in the sun. If your oven goes low enough you can dehydrate in it. This way when things are in season and on sale you can put some back.
16. Buy and use store brands, most store brands are as good as name brand (a couple are better). They are a lot cheaper, I know city market runs their store brands on sale pretty often.(I know that there are a couple store brands that are nasty and name brand is way better, just use your own judgment)
17. You can also use coupons I know a few people that save a ton with them. I don’t have the time that you need to use them effectively, so I don’t use them much. But if I do see one for something that I use I will use it.
Food storage when money is tight is a struggle I know. But if you are determined you can do it. Even if it is picking up a pound of beans here and a bag of rice there. Something is better than nothing.
If you have any other ideas please feel free to share. Also if you would like personal help I would be more then glad to help, or answer any questions you might have. Just e-mail me at frugallivingontheranch.com