We began stockpiling food a few years ago for several reasons. We live out a little ways out in the boonies, so trips to the store are time-consuming and gas-guzzling. Also, regular food prices are beyond our budget, particularly as the paycheck either decreases or is delayed. Having food on hand is wonderful during lean times, especially knowing how little it cost us and, when it comes to local produce, how much more healthy it is! And, one more, and it is a biggie: should we ever have an emergency and cannot get out, or should store shelves be emptied in a public panic, we will be set at our house for some time.
Just how do we stockpile foods? Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Make your own price list.
Make a price list featuring the lowest prices you have seen in your area for items you typically buy. In this list, include coupons you know are often available, plus the usual rock-bottom sale price. Research other price lists, such as this customizable one from MoneySavingMom, to get an idea of just how low prices could go (noting that your region will affect some prices.)
2. Shop at rock-bottom prices.
Check sale papers and coupon match-ups and be ready to swing by the store when the rock-bottom prices hit. Also be ready to buy as much as possible at that super low price. If your store sets limits on the number you can purchase of an item, have another family member check-out, with both of you at the item’s limit, or stop by the store another day you are in the area. Shopping this way doesn’t fit the budget? Consider having a “sale” category in your budget, reserved just for times like this.
3. Shop beyond the grocery store.
Local orchards or farms may sell foods in bulk at a discount- it never hurts to inquire. Pick-your-own farms can be fun family time, and the end result is a bulk supply of the very freshest fruits. Or block off time on your calendar, pick up produce “seconds”, and take them straight home to make jam or otherwise prepare and freeze or can. If you notice friends and family that do not pick everything from their garden or fruit trees, ask if you can help and take some home! For meat, store-bought beef is out of our budget, so, with my parents, we bought an organic, grass-fed cow that was vacuum-sealed at $2.75 a pound- steaks and all- and it lasted two years in a deep freezer.
4. Prepare your home.
Clean out the cabinets and freezer to make way for plenty of food. You may also need to clean out an additional closet or portion of one. Additionally, seek out cooler storage areas for items such as potatoes, onions, pumpkins, and such. It may be necessary to free up part of the freezer to freeze rice and flour for 24 hours to prevent bugs.
5. Cook it up.
Sometimes the best method is to cook a large batch of the stockpile. Throw as much chicken, beef, or beans as you can fit in the slow cooker: home-cooked meals are so much easier when you have these simple, cooked ingredients at the ready in your freezer. Once the food is done and removed (and if you can stand the smell overnight), keep the juices going by adding water and seasoning to make broth- to also freeze, of course! Consider doubling recipes to have extra meals, frozen for another day. I find that cooking this way makes the stockpile a little less overwhelming.
How do you stockpile foods? Please do share your tips in the comments!