How many of you would like to build your food storage, but money is tight, making it difficult? How many of you would like to have a few more gadgets, like a pressure canner, vacuum sealer, etc., to make food storage cheaper and easier, but it’s nearly impossible to find that amount of money in your regular grocery budget?
I feel your pain. I’ve been there. Sometimes there is no extra money to spend on these things. That’s okay. Just do what you can when you can. If you make saving money a priority, you will be able to set a little aside to build your food storage.
Here are a few things I’ve done and am doing to “find” money within my existing grocery budget for my food storage.
1. I started buying more basics in bulk. I was buying bread flour from Walmart. It was about $6 for 10 pounds of flour, but I realized that my Costco sold 50 pound bags of bread flour for just under $15. The only problem? I didn’t have anywhere to store 50 pounds of flour. I got some food grade buckets for free (from the bakery in my local grocery store), washed them well, and sterilized them in a bleach water solution. I let them dry, and when I knew they were clean and ready to go, I bought my flour from Costco.
When I brought it home, I stuck it in my chest freezer for a couple of days. A friend of mine told me that if I freeze my flour, I will never have weevils. I had them once, (they came home in some flour I bought from the store) and it was quite yucky. So, now, I freeze all my flour for a day or two before I open it. Haven’t had weevils since. After my flour was good and frozen, I moved it to my food grade buckets (labeling and dating each bucket).
I continued with this pattern with other bulk items I wanted to purchase (sugar, salt, baking soda, etc.) Now I am paying much less per pound for these staples, and I can use the money I’m saving to stock up on other items.
2. I started making my own bread. I did this for three reasons. First, I really, truly LOVE homemade bread. Second, I have some dietary restrictions, and I really am not supposed to eat white bread (aka no fiber or non whole grain bread). Third, I knew it would be better for my family to eat homemade bread where I control the ingredients and know exactly what’s in it.
Making my own bread doesn’t save me a ton, but it does save me about $5/week, and every penny saved counts!
3. I shop the “sale” meat. My local Walmart Supercenter marks down their meat by 20% 2 days BEFORE the sell-by date. Every time I go shopping, I swing by the meat section and see if there are any cuts of meat (that I use) on sale. If so, I buy as many as I can afford and put them in my handy-dandy chest freezer. Most of the meat we eat was purchased this way, allowing us to pay 20% less for our meat.
4. I started buying a couple extra cans of items we regularly use when I went grocery shopping. This allowed me to have a small “stockpile”, so I didn’t have to buy these items at whatever price they happened to be sold for the day I needed them. I am now able to buy them only when they’re on sale. Now, I don’t use a ton of store-bought canned goods, but I do use some, and this saves me money which I can use elsewhere.
5. I try to control food waste. I try to use everything I buy and make so I’m not throwing away food. Throwing away food = throwing away money. I have varying degrees of success with this one. It was particularly challenging when my second son went off to college. I didn’t realize how much he ate not only at dinner, but also that he ate a lot of my leftovers. If it looks like something is going to go bad, I see if there’s any way I can use it or store it (usually by freezing it).
6. I freeze some meals. I am not a “once-a-month” cooker, but I try to make extra when I make foods we eat that freeze well. For example, when I make lasagna, instead of making one, I double or triple the recipe and make 2 or 3 and put those in an aluminum pan (which I buy in bulk at Costco or Sam’s), and freeze the extra ones. This saves money in two ways. First, I buy in bulk, paying a lower price per ounce, pound, etc. Second, I have quicker and easier meals ready to pop in the oven when I am busy, so I don’t go out to eat just to have a night off from cooking.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that this is saving me boatloads of money. It’s not. I probably save between $10-20/week depending on the week. That adds up if I am deliberate and don’t just spend away these savings. I either spend it on extra items from the grocery store or set it aside for a larger purchase (like a food item in bulk or a pressure canner, etc.).
Here are some ways I have “earned” extra money which I used to buy bigger items.
All I had to do was make an opening deposit and perform at least 5 transactions (debit card transactions, deposits, or a combination of the two) within 60 days. On day 65, the $125 was in my checking account ready to spend. I used the money to buy my Presto pressure canner from Amazon* and to buy the Zaycon chicken I canned on Wednesday*.
2. I belong to a rewards website called My Points*. It’s free and easy to use. I’ve been a member for 16 years and earn an average of $50/year reading emails, linking to online merchants through their website when making a purchase (like Kohl’s, Expedia, The Disney Store, and more), printing and redeeming coupons, and by taking advantage of other offers on their site. I get rewarded for reading ads and for buying things I would have bought anyway. My Points pays it’s rewards in gift cards, so I select a gift card for the merchant that sells the item I want to buy. They offer gift cards for over 200 merchants, including: iTunes store, Target, Baja Fresh, CVS, Home Depot, and many others.
And that’s it! Basically, I save money where I can in my regular shopping, and I “earn” money when reputable merchants offer incentives to use their services. Then I spend the money on Food Storage related items.
Now it’s your turn…
What do you do to save money?
How do you “find” the funds to buy bigger items?
Please share! My readers would love to learn from your experiences.