What I’ve learned from living two different lives:
It’s time I admit I’m spoiled in my relationship with food. I have a husband who’s passionate about cooking, and he’s really good at it. Furthermore, our home in Orlando sits in a gated community alongside an area commonly referred to as “Restaurant Row.” If we’re hungry, with a few taps on our cell phone, we can have our pick of any type of food from Lebanese to West Indian magically appear at our front door within minutes.
But life at our farmhouse is very different. With no Uber Eats and the closest “good” grocery store around a thirty-minute drive—or more if it’s raining and you have to plow through miles of slushy roads to reach civilization—meals require work and planning. We collect our eggs from the roost of our chickens, pick our herbs from our garden, and pluck wild blueberries from the forest. You get the picture. Preparing food requires planning, work, and time. We discuss our dinner plan over our scrambled eggs. I’m thankful I’m able to live both lives, but one has really shown me something about the other.
The life of convenience and comfort can hurt us if we don’t learn how to prepare to live without it. Hence, why I emphatically stress building your food storage. The outbreak of the coronavirus revealed what can happen when your home is not prepared. Remember the toilet paper fiasco? Consider that experience your dry run. Will you be more ready next time?
I know there are many out of work or on limited incomes. The following are some money-saving strategies to help you get prepared without breaking the bank.
- Join a buyers club such as BJ’s, Sam’s, or Costco. In these large warehouses, you will find bulk items. Furthermore, as an added bonus many offer coupon deals, for additional savings, or (depending on your membership status), 2% back on total purchases. From experience, I know that BJ’s will allow multiple manufacturer coupons on an item, as well as their own coupon promotions, whereas Sam’s and Costco do not.
- Amazon Prime: Amazon is an excellent place to purchase paper products and cleaning products, but I do not recommend purchasing food items as I’ve done in the past and found them near their expiration date. On Amazon, you can save additional money by subscribing. I’ve put some of my stockpile items into the monthly subscriber, and slowly built my quantity of that item while saving an additional percentage, since I receive it every month.
On Amazon you can also save tons in free shipping. It is worth the fee.
- I’m excited to try this one. Azure Standard is an online company (with drop off sites) you can order bulk foods from. The way it works is you order your food online before the deadline, and on the drop off date, meet the semi at the drop off site to receive your order. I have price-compared their products which are by far cheaper than what I’ve been paying for things like baking goods. They also carry many organic items. Check them out at http://www.azurestandard.com.
- Publix grocery stores BOGO (Buy one Get one free) offers. There may be another grocery store in your area that does this, but often I find the items on my list for stocking in their BOGO promotions.
- While building your shelves don’t forget your extended family. Remember your parents, siblings’ families, or children’s families. Why not join forces? Delegate responsibilities in finding the best prices and split up the purchasing. I buy the bulk flour, you buy the coffee etc. Chose family members that will do their fair share of the work involved. Also, you may have a sibling that is not as blessed financially as you are. Consider stocking up for them but involving them in other ways such as delegating them the comparison shopping, clipping coupons, or properly storing the food. Building food inventory is more of a blessing when it’s a community endeavor.
- Only purchase what you eat. You’ll be more likely to rotate your shelves and not let food expire on the shelf preventing you from wasting money in the long run.
- Buy a little extra each time you go to the grocery store. Build your food storage gradually, a little here… a little there.
- Join Facebook groups or follow YouTubers that share information regarding prepping. Here you will get much information on money-saving tips. (There will be a post on some suggestions soon.)
- Buy in-season produce and spend time canning. I honestly don’t know why it’s called canning when you use glass jars. Shouldn’t it be called jarring? Anyway, I hope to offer a minicourse on canning soon.
- Buy directly from your local farmers. Get outside and pick some strawberries or attend the farmer’s markets. Build relationships with your local producers.
- Try an application such as Honey or Wikibuy, which applies coupons automatically to your online purchases.
- Search for alternative stores on-line that are made for supplying businesses but will sell to the average consumer. Great examples of this is www.webstaurantstore.com and www.cleanitsupply.com where you can buy concentrated cleaning supplies and mix them with water yourself. This will save money and space in your cleaning cupboards.
Although this list is not complete, I hope it helps you save some money while building the reserves in your pantry. I’m always looking for new ideas. If you have a suggestion you’re utilizing, feel free to leave it in the comments below. I’d love to hear it!