Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Food Storage Strategy

Food storage is something I learned about early in my marriage, and it has been a huge part of saving money in the food budget.  My husband and I were shopping at our first case lot sale.  We had been married for about a year, and I was very excited about the prices, they were so much lower than I had been paying.  Nathan asked me, "Well, why aren't we buying more?" I remember giving him a blank stare. It was obvious to me that we were staying within our weekly food budget.  He explained it like this: "Look, if  this is stuff we will use, and this is the best price you've seen all year, and it will store for a year, why don't we buy enough for the year?" We couldn't afford to buy a year's worth of everything that time, but we did buy bulk of what we would use most, and we saved up for case lot the next year so we could buy a year's worth of our canned goods.  We figure the savings add up to about 30%, simply by buying when it is on sale and being able to hold it here in our home.

Storage capacity is something to consider seriously. Food in various forms can be stored for extra months giving you leverage. It works like this: I have a deep freeze. When chicken goes on sale, I can stock up by storing it in my freezer. I can buy enough at a good price to wait until the next time it goes on sale. Just like white sales happen in January, food goes on sale in cycles too. If you can buy it at the best price, and store enough to get you through to the next sale on it, you are never paying more than you should for that item. Canned goods store for a year or more, check expiration dates. Meat will stay good in your freezer for up to a year, depending on the packaging, and the temperature of your freezer--frost-free freezers are not as cold, and food lasts longer in the frosty kind. Dry goods, carefully packed, can last longer. Even if you build only a small food storage, you will save yourself money this way. This will also cut down on trips to the store, which cuts down on impulse buying. If you are really tight on space, get creative. Your coat closet can hold coats on hangers and cans on the floor. It is important to store food where you can easily get to it, then you will use it effectively. You don't want food you have stored to go bad!

This does take some thinking.  It will not serve to buy too many cans of sauerkraut unless you are a real fan.  Look at your family's eating habits, consider what items you eat all the time that can be stored.  Consider your budget too.  Start small and work on it.  You are learning the price points that are best at your favorite grocery store, put that knowledge to work for you.  When you find the deal, buy as much as you can afford and as much as will last for the time it will store.  Although I still love a good case lot sale, I now rotate my stocking up throughout the year.  Pork and beans, olives and barbecue sauce are all cheapest in the summer months.  Stock up on soups in the winter.  This way you avoid having a whole bunch of food that is expiring all at once. If you are storing your food on shelves, stock them the way a supermarket does with the newest things at the back.  Use a Sharpie to label things you are putting in your freezer with the date you are freezing it.  You can use the Sharpie on any item you purchased to remind you the date you added it to the storage.  With a little evaluation and some strategic planning, you will be on your way to saving at least your 30%!

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If you are visiting, welcome! I am in the process of a Vulcan Mind Meld with my computer to put all of my right hand recipes for feeding my family on here as fast as possible. Please come back often and stay awhile. There are so many exciting things to come!

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A clearing house for all my favorite recipes. All my food musings. All my favorite cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. If you enjoy it here, and find it useful, welcome!