Getting Started With Food Storage
For many people those words probably conjure up thoughts of rickety basement shelves stocked with dusty commodity sized cans of food and old bomb shelters harboring barrels of water. That way folks could be prepared. Just in case. In case of what, it doesn’t matter, but today’s families should still think about how they can participate in storing food.
Food storage can involve as much food or as little food as you want to work with. Some families like to have a full pantry, and that’s it. Others like to stock freezers, pantries, larders and every closet they have access to so that they could live with no income or food supply for months…or years. Seriously.
Storing food is smart, in my opinion. I don’t like to spread fear, but having a store of food and supplies for emergencies is just good practice. Plus, if you use a strategy as you shop for the items your family uses, you can buy more things at lower prices, and still save in the long run.
For the purposes of this site, I use “Food Storage” and “storing food” to generally mean larger stores of food, and “stockpiling” to mean the extra items you buy to keep a well-stocked pantry. The former implies longer term planning and the latter just makes good kitchen sense.
For me, I am right on the border of Food Storage. I have more than 10 jars of spaghetti sauce and more than 10 boxes of cereal, so I think I am storing food, not just stocking up!
You might be wondering how you can afford to do this.
You’re reading my site to learn how to SAVE money, right? Buying extra food and household supplies involves spending more. Doesn’t it?
It doesn’t have to.
If you go to the store and buy extra of everything on your list, you will definitely spend more. But, if you watch sale ads carefully, learn how to pair those ads with coupons, and then methodically shop your way through your Go-To Ingredient list, you can actually build up a store of food and spend the same amount as you normally would, maybe even less!
Pick one item each week or each pay period and stockpile just that item. Give yourself a budget. $10 a week. $20 a pay check. Choose an amount you can spare on a regular basis and use it to stockpile items. Be careful though. You don’t want to pick any old item off your list and buy multiples of it.
Look at what is on sale and what you have coupons for, and then choose what to buy. Do that each week with a different item and your store of food and supplies will grow. I might buy 5 mega-jumbo packs of toilet paper this week and 15 jars of spaghetti sauce next week, but I only do that for those items a couple of times a year. The rest of the time I have the items on hand, and I do not buy more until I see the price is as low as I think it will go.
You should also consider exploring other sources of “cheap” food that you can get seasonally or in bulk. Look around your area and see if there are any Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups, Farmer’s Markets, roadside produce stands, box programs or co-ops that you can join. Local food isn’t always cheaper, but in general you can save by shopping seasonally and locally.
Learn to anticipate the store sale cycles, keep a good stock of coupons on hand, and watch for other sources of good, cheap food.
The only thing you might be spending more of in this process is TIME. But, it’s worth it.
When your household becomes self-sufficient from good planning and your weekly grocery bill begins to dip because everything you generally cook with has been bought ahead of time at low prices and stored until you needed it, food storage becomes more fun. Sort of like a game. I ask myself all the time, “How can I find the best deal on the items I want to stockpile?” When I figure out how, it’s exhilarating!
So, what do you store?
That depends on whether you are creating a long-term food storage plan or just want to stockpile some items for your pantry. In either case you need a Go-To Ingredient list so you know what to keep an eye out for.
Whatever your family likes to eat, whatever items they use on a regular basis and whatever things you buy over and over need to become items you look for all the time. Don’t forget to think outside of the kitchen, too. What do you need in the bathroom? Laundry room? Garage? For the yard? Do you have pets?
All items that you use on a regular basis should be included when planning to store food.
FREE Printable Pantry, Freezer and Household Inventories:
I have created three printable tools to help you keep track of what you have, and know when to restock. Each one is available in two versions – with categories or without.
- Pantry Inventory – with categories
- Pantry Inventory – no categories
- Freezer Inventory – with categories
- Freezer Inventory – no categories
- Household Inventory – with categories
- Household Inventory – no categories
Are you ready to start a plan for yourself? These articles will help you get started…
- Go-To Ingredient Lists (based off Go-To Recipes and household needs)
- Example of cooking from your pantry with a meal plan – saves time and money!
- Storing Food Safely – coming soon!
- How much food should I store? – coming soon!
- Locating storage space and setting up “stores” – coming soon!
- Organizing and keeping track of what you have – coming soon!
- Using the food you have stored – coming soon!
Other Helpful Sites:
The Perfect Pantry – This is a site, by a food writer, dedicated to finding recipes to use food from your pantry. You can look at recipes, see what people keep on hand in their kitchens, and actually LOOK at other people’s pantries! Pretty neat.
Food Storage Made Easy – These gals break down food storage into steps so easy anyone can do it. And more than that, they help you learn to cook with your stores of food, and also give information on how to survive in emergencies. They even have info on cooking with no power! I am still exploring all their info!
Food Storage and Beyond – Another excellent site for helping you understand food storage, especially longer term storage and emergency preparedness. Find recipes, directions for cooking with solar ovens, and more!
Also, I should point out that folks on a journey to save money through better household management might like to start with my pages on Planning Meals and Using Coupons before diving right in to Storing Food. It all goes hand in hand when trying to save.
If you’re not familiar with planning and cooking meals or using coupons, you might want to start here first.
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