11 Ways to Increase Your Food Storage With Out Spending More Money
So, you decided to begin storing food. Perhaps you’ve read a few articles, watched a few survival videos, and maybe even purchased a few supplies. You were motivated and inspired and then BAM!–you hit a wall. I know when I began working on my EPP (Emergency Preparedness Plan) and LTFS (Long term Food Storage), I was left with one REALLY overwhelming thought… “Dang, this is going to be expensive.” It hung above me like the sword of Damacles. So, I decided to figure out how to do it without increasing my monthly budget.
Inevitably, there are a few items that are going to cost some money like a back-up power generator, extra deep freeze, guns and ammunition, etc…Thankfully, food is not one of those things. I am finding that I can EASILY stretch my monthly food budget by 30% – 50% just by changing the way I shop (even with the rising price of food). If I had the patience for extreme couponing, the savings could be substantially more. But saving big doesn’t have to be painful.
Three years ago, I couldn’t tell you the cost of a gallon of milk, or the price of beef, or a unit cost on toilet paper. Those things never crossed my mind. I bought whatever I wanted, or needed. I didn’t look back and I certainly didn’t look forward to a rainy day.
Well, that was then and this is now. Life has changed. So let’s get to it. Here are 11 ways you can increase your food storage without increasing your monthly food budget.
1] Make a Deal List: Deal shopping is a little like gambling. When you are winning, it’s easy to get carried away and make stupid decisions. If you keep a master list of items and brands, you are less likely to end up with 5 cases of SPAM that you will never use. It’s like anything else in life. It’s easier to find it when you know exactly what you are looking for. Print out your list in a 5-1/2” x 8” format, laminate it and keep it in your purse with you at all times.
2] Think in Unit Costs: Give up the idea of shopping by price or package size. Get educated about what items cost by unit (i.e. per ounce, per sheet, per pound) and start looking for deals. I recommend putting your target unit cost right onto your deal list so you know a good deal when you see one. Investing a little time on the front end will save you huge dollars on the back end.
I love online grocery shopping for this reason alone. The unit cost is displayed which cuts down the amount of calculating needed to determine a good deal. If I am looking for high grade extra virgin olive oil, I can compare brands and unit prices and pick the best deal. You can do this at the store as well, but you’ll spend a lot of time standing in the aisle, comparing ounces, prices and percentage discounts.
By understanding unit pricing, you can better determine when it makes more sense to purchase from the wholesale suppliers. Sometimes, you can find unit cost deals that are just as good at the grocery store and even the pharmacy. Knowledge is power. Get educated!
3] Brush up on calculating percentages: Stores have gotten very crafty about wording deals, and what looks like a good deal is not always a good deal. Do the math. Understand the offer. My goal is to save at least 40% on every purchase. So, I only put items in my cart that are 40% savings or more. This is a very simple and powerful discipline and I can usually take care of my ENTIRE grocery list by following this rule.
The result is that you can apply the savings towards freeze-dried foods, or get significantly more food for your LTFS. I adopted this approach 3 months ago. What I have in my pantry now, could easily last for 2-3 months in an emergency. It adds up quickly.
4] Buy in Bulk: Obvious. But, it is amazing how far this will get you. If you are one who avoids the big box stores like Costco or Sam’s club, now is the time to reconsider. You can often purchase 3 times the amount of an item for the same price you would pay in a grocery store. For example: A carton of organic eggs at Costco is about $3.00 for 18 eggs and at the grocery store, the organic eggs are $5.00 a dozen. That’s a 60% savings on a per unit basis. You get the point.
5] Consider Store Brands: There are certain brands that I will not buy because of the ingredients in the foods. However, I am learning that on certain items, store brands are “the bomb!” Often, they taste better. The O Organics brand (Vons/Safeway) is very cost effective if you are committed to the organic lifestyle. Open your mind to store brands and the savings are tremendous.
The same thing applies at the big box wholesalers. The Kirkland brand at Costco has many outstanding products and is offering more and more organic choices. I actually prefer their brand over many of the big name brands.
5] Learn to Can Food: Canning is a great survival skill and it is almost becoming a lost art unless you are Mormon, or still have a grandmother who knows how to do it. I have already spoken with my mother-in-law about having a canning party during our next family visit. A bunch of ladies are going to make huge batches of Bina’s Italian marinara sauce, MaryAnn’s peach and apricot jam. And, I want to try canning my famous BBQ Pork. If you need some inspiration about how amazing and creative canned foods can really be, purchase this book, “Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry”. I book marked about 50 recipes and couldn’t put it down.
Start a new trend with your friends. Instead of getting together for Bunko or a BBQ, get together for canning parties. Share the expenses, the fun and the clean-up. If a canning party isn’t your style, consider going to a Mormon LDS canning center. Many are opening up their doors to the general public. In some cases, they will even do it for you. Voila’.
And what could be more comforting in an emergency than knowing you have some foods available that were made with such freshness, love and care.
6] Cook and Freeze: I am getting in the habit of making double batches of entre’s when I cook recipes like my yummy Turkey Vegetarian Chili, or Tom Ka Gai soup and pulled BBQ pork. I freeze the extra portions. I can serve these meals in a pinch on busy days during the week, and it helps me build up a supply of homemade foods that we can eat in an emergency.
7] Buy Local: Shop for produce at your local Farmer’s Market when possible. You are supporting your local farmers. I have found that I can often negotiate a few freebies, and the pricing and quality are outstanding. And you can use some of the freshest produce at your canning parties and for cooking and freezing.
8] Buy a side of Meat: My husband’s parent did this every year and it significantly cut down their cost of protein. I happen to love game meats like venison, elk, bison and ostrich. I am looking into purchasing a side of elk this year in addition to purchasing meat on sale at the grocery store. I will share more information when I find a few good suppliers.
9] Become a Coupon Queen: If you have an overall plan for the items you would like to have as part of your food storage plan, then couponing becomes really critical to your cost savings strategy. Get in the habit of picking up the circulars from local grocery stores, pharmacies and big box retailers and then “cherry pick” the best deals. Wait until what you need is at least 2 for 1. But often, you can find products that are 60% off or more. Stock up in reasonable fashion when the opportunity arises. Skip everything else.
10] Subscribe to several coupon clipping services: Often, there are limits on the deals you find at the regular stores. For example, a 2 for 1 deal might be limited to one or two per customer. That’s a real bummer if you want to purchase 20 or 30 of something. This is where a coupon clipping service might make sense for you. You can keep your eye out for certain brands, or products that you are specifically looking for and then purchase multiple coupons for a minimal price.
11] Subscribe to a food service program: I have subscribed to www.shelfreliance.com to build my long term supply of freeze dried foods in #10 cans on a monthly basis. I set up a monthly budget, and each month, items from “my Q” are shipped to my house. Other great providers are www.emergencyessentials.com and www.foodinsurance.com. I alternate purchases between them, checking out the deals each month. I have found it is worth the time to keep on top of all three sites. Having the automated monthly shipment is peace of mind delivered to my doorstep in gallon-sized cans.
The bottom line is to take this whole “food storage thing” in baby steps and remember that it is a philosophy and ongoing practice, not a one-time event. As you progress, you’ll find ways to save even more. And don’t forget to track your food storage with this amazing free tool that you can find at www.foodstorageanalyzer.com which is part of Emergency Essentials.
Hopefully, these tips will help you add to your long term food storage without spending more money. What money saving secrets have you found?