Eight strategies to increase food preps while on a budget
With food prices skyrocketing and availability dropping, the kilted prepper talks about simple ways to stock up on a budget.
By Raymond Mhor (the Kilted Prepper)
Photo by Pixabay
With all we are facing in the world today, including inflation and rising food costs, we now see a lack of food on grocery store shelves. We are experiencing less than we are accustomed to. So many things are happening to affect us and our wallets. In times like these, we need to seriously focus on getting our home food pantry in order. Why? Because I, as well as the UN, USDA and the Agriculture Department, are all predicting it is not going to get easier. It is, in fact, going to get much worse.
According to this video (https://tinyurl.com/RM-UN-Food-Chief) by the Associated Press, the UN Food Chief, David Beasely, used the words, “It is going to be hell on earth,” to describe the coming food shortages.
Food prices will not drop any time soon. So, what do we do? First, we need to start looking at food as an investment. What we buy today will go up in the coming weeks. Now, let me ask you a question. Would you rather buy less expensive or more expensive food? Odds are, you will say you would rather buy less expensive food, which is a good thing. How do we buy food now, knowing prices will go up, while our food budget is not growing along with the food price increases? I am hoping to share with you several strategies I use to promote long-term savings.
Strategy #1: The $5 Rule
The key thing is for you and your spouse to sit down and look intently every time you go to the grocery store. Depending on how much extra cash you have, this price of $5 will either go up or down. For some, it may only be $5. For others it may be only $3, or maybe you can spend $10 to $20. The key is to determine a figure you will stick with no matter what happens, and no matter what is happening in your life. Now, if you have a sudden turn of hardship, you simply re-adjust your figures and determine a new number. But the main thing is spending that $5 every time you go to the store and buy $5 worth of food specifically for your pantry.
If you do this and you are consistent, you will begin to see your pantry grow rather quickly. But again, the key factor is you make this a habit, and you do not alter this habit.
Strategy #2: Set Realistic Target Goals
So how much should you buy? Start with seven days of food. Then move it to two weeks of food. Then make it one month. Then three months, and so on.
How much do you need in your home food pantry? I recommend you have at least 90 days’ worth of food. Why 90 days? Because it takes a human an average of 90 days’ time to adapt to a “new normal.” By having 90 days of food on hand, you will not be out there fighting and scrapping for what food items you can find.
Here is a prime example. Remember the Covid-19 toilet paper shortage? Remember how many people were going crazy just trying to find toilet paper? Imagine that with food, and you can see what chaos could ensue. By not exposing yourself to the chaos, you can focus on other things your family needs. I call this, “staying ahead of the curve.” By always staying ahead of the curve, you are staying away from the chaos, which is, obviously, the best place to be.
Strategy #3: Buy Double What You Eat
You know what you like, and you know what your family will eat. So, when you are shopping, you double up on those items. You can also apply the $5 rule to this strategy as well. This is a really easy way to ensure you are buying food your family will eat and enjoy.
If, for example, your family likes Fruit Loops bagged cereal, purchase one bag and pick up another bag for your pantry. Say they like tuna, then pick up a can to eat and one to stick back in your pantry.
Buying double will help build your pantry with the foods you know you and your family love and will eat.
Strategy #4: Shop Current Sales
This is one strategy I leverage a lot. Honestly, I am not a great coupon clipper, but I do shop at Kroger’s and use my Kroger’s reward card. Kroger’s also has digital coupons you can add to your card if you know you will be shopping during those extra specials. While I am shopping, I always look for good sales on food items I know my family likes and eats. When I see these sales, I buy not only for the meal but also two to three extras, since the price is low and I can afford more.
By doing this, I am getting a better investment in my food and not paying as much as I was when shopping at full price. This is a great way to purchase condiments too. You will always need mustard, mayo and ketchup. When I see a sale of any type of condiment, I pick up a couple of extra bottles and stick them away in the food pantry.
Strategy #5: Buy During the Holidays
This is one to focus on.
Things you will see on sale are:
- Green beans
- Baking supplies including flour, sugar, salt, etc.
Just about anything you may imagine for Thanksgiving will be on sale. It may not be at the same time, but if green beans are on sale, pick up extra cans. The next week you might see stuffing and corn on sale, so again, pick up extras. The prices during the holiday season are usually pretty good, and it is an excellent time to start stocking your pantry. So, take advantage of the Thanksgiving sale season.
Christmas is another sale holiday, but the food prices seem to be better for Thanksgiving than for Christmas sales. This is because Christmas focuses on presents and traditions. On Thanksgiving, the focus is on families eating.
Also, consider purchasing “typical” Thanksgiving foods you can eat year around. If stuffing is $1.50 a box, why not pick up six or eight boxes to store in your pantry? Now you have six or eight meals covered for your side dishes. The same thing goes with pumpkin pie makings. These are on sale a lot, so why not stock up and make pumpkin pie at other times of the year? Seriously, who doesn’t love a good pumpkin pie?
Thanksgiving foods are not just for Thanksgiving anymore. Cook these items year around, and it helps you be reminiscent of special family times, and they will bring back good memories.
Strategy #6: Shop for Meals
What I do is shop for meals. I look at how many meals I currently have on hand. So, I know if I have 90, 180, or a year’s worth of meals. By meals I am looking at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I might have 80 dinners, but only 30 lunches and 60 breakfasts. By counting meals, I am ensuring that I have enough to ensure my family is getting solid food throughout the day.
For example, a one-pound bag of fettuccine will provide us with two dinners. I cook up the entire package and eat half for the meal. I then add olive oil to the other half and place it in a zip-lock bag to save it for a meal later that same week. Pasta stored in this manner will easily last 5-7 days refrigerated.
Look for side dishes like beans, corn or mashed potatoes. For example, green beans packed in a four-pack are usually on sale during the holidays. A four-pack is four individual side dishes you can have on-hand so you can add variety to your meals.
Another great thing to look for are mashed potato packs. They come in a variety of different flavors, and right now, they run $1.75 - $2.00 a pack. I have seen these on sale for about $1.00 to $1.25 per pack during the Thanksgiving season. So, pick up multiple bags, and you have a great-tasting side dish that is quick and easy to make.
Strategy #7: Buy in Bulk
I suggest you look into buying in bulk and store up extra savings. I was at Sam’s Club and saw a 50-pound bag of white rice for $14.95. I could not pass up this good deal and bought a bag.
Once home, I filled up two five-gallon food-grade buckets and still had some left over, which I stored in mason jars. Needless to say, we now have a good amount of rice on hand. You can do the same with beans, lentils and pasta. If you have a grain mill, look into buying wheat so you can grind your own for making bread, rolls and pizza crust.
If you don’t know what Gamma Lids are, they are lids with a twist-on top you use on five-gallon food-safe buckets. This way, you have easy access to the food you have stored, and because they have rubber gaskets on the rim and a twist-off lid, little critters cannot infest your food. I also add 3000cc oxygen absorbers into these buckets. These absorbers will suck the air/oxygen out of the buckets. This helps keep the food fresher for longer. They also deprive any critters of oxygen, and any eggs you may have in the food will die off. And yes, you will have critter eggs as there is no way to get rid of them. However, this is a great way to prevent them. Here are some links to the ones I use:
Gamma Lids - https://tinyurl.com/RM-Gamma-Lids
5-Gallon Bucket Absorbers - https://tinyurl.com/RM-5gallon-Absorbers
Strategy #8: Cook Big Meals and Freeze or Can the Rest
This is a strategy I use often, especially if I am making soup, stew or pasta. I mean, hey, you are going to be doing the cooking anyway, so why not cook up extra you can freeze or can the excess? This is an inexpensive way to build up your pantry with the food you are already creating. It just takes a few more ingredients and a larger pot. I have a large cast iron pot I use just for this purpose. One of our favorites is chicken vegetable soup with noodles. Here is an easy and less expensive recipe we make often:
- Pull off the skin and keep it. Debone the chicken quarters and cut them up into bite-sized pieces. Use the chicken skin in your pot first to render some of the fat, and when it is done, add it to your chicken. Cook it off and leave the fat.
- Once cooked ¾ of the way, pull the chicken out and add any of the veggies you have cut up into that nicely seasoned fat, and cook it off. Add some chicken stock and let it simmer for a bit. Once it has, then add the chicken back in and simmer it again for a bit.
- The last thing you want to do is add your noodles. What I have done is make my own thick noodles which I grind up with my wheat grinder. I add them at the last moment. Let them cook for about seven to ten minutes. The noodles will thicken the soup and give you a great consistency. Serve it up with some homemade bread, and you have a great stick-to-your-belly meal. What you don’t eat, put in some FoodSaver bags, and freeze them or can it in mason jars.
I hope this has helped give you some ideas to stretch your dollar and add more to your food pantry. If you have any questions, please reach out and contact me. I am here to help with any questions you might have. Here are my contact points…
Website - https://raymondmhor.com
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