In March of 2015 I came down with papillary thyroid cancer and had to leave my job. (Read more about my cancer story.) For my fiance (now husband) and I that was devastating. We had barely been scraping by before on our two minimum wage jobs and now we didn’t know how we were going to continue living. I was not eligible for short term disability (because it was supposed to take 30 days or less to recover….it took longer, of course. And still has severe repercussions to my health today), and there was no other options for us by means of help financially.
It’s now August, I’m married, alive, moved and doing fine. I’m sure you’re wondering how we’re still afloat and not severely in debt. It’s crazy to think about but there’s really a simple answer. I stockpile my food. I know, lots of people stockpile their food. You’re thinking: it’s expensive, I don’t know where to start and how did it really save you and your fiance? Well, I’ll tell you.
A few years back we had an Aldi’s open in the city near us (country folk talking here) and although it seemed like a nice idea neither my fiance nor myself ever used it. It wasn’t until we were forced to move into our own place that we realized how useful Aldi’s could be. With such a tight budget getting groceries was always a struggle for us in the beginning; and as we quickly learned that hunger was not helpful in productivity at work, school and definitely not helpful when trying to build a relationship. So instead of shopping at our town’s small, local grocery store, we got in the car once a month drove the 40 minutes to get to Aldi’s.
Man was I surprised! They had everything we needed in more! Not only did we get enough essentials for the month but we even got a few extra goodies! I got my baking supplies (because I like to make most things from scratch; it tastes better, is better for you, and costs less), and we stocked up on meat and other staples!
After shopping in a somewhat stupor at all that they had to offer we finally made it to the checkout line. I’ll admit, I was nervous. Really nervous. I knew we had grabbed more than we needed for the month and we had a strict budget of $200/month at the time. As the cashier was checking us out I looked at every item, internally sweating (as I do every time I go to the grocery store) and thinking of what items we could live the next month without. Finally, the last item was checked out and the cashier cheerily announced “$132.00 please.” I was floored! I couldn’t believe it! All those groceries that we had been living without for the first few months and some extra spending money! What a deal!
So by stocking up for that month at Aldi’s not only did we save ourselves some money, but we no longer were as hungry as we were before. Things were improving in our home. Since that first time at Aldi’s we’ve established a routine, and created a new budget. For just the two of us we can stock up 2-3 months worth of food for what we originally paid in that first month. From making a lot more food from scratch and planning our meals we’ve gotten it down to a bit of science.
**Update: May 2017** I still use Aldi’s frequently for non-basics, but since we’ve moved to all organic food, we now get organic meat from a local farmer, unbleached flour (which Aldi’s only carries once a year), and other basics in bulk. We are currently in the process of upping our food storage as we are soon getting a 7.0 cubic sq ft freezer and building more shelves in our already expansive pantry. Food storage has become even more important to me than it was before.
Here are my tips to you for saving money when stocking your pantry.
Stock up on the essentials.
Grabbing a ton of Oreo cookies when you really need flour, sugar and meat is not a wise investment. And while it might taste good while it lasts it’s going to cost you financially and physically in the end. Having some simple basics, such as:
- Sugar (cane sugar, honey, or maple syrup)
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Popping corn
can save you and your family from hunger when tragedy strikes. (Trust me, at one point or another if not at multiple points in your life, you will have a situation that leaves you with less.) Having these on hand (if you can in bulk) will help you feed your family when you otherwise would have been hungry. Even if the food is bland, it feeds them. That’s what counts.
Compare the unit price per pound.
While it might seem like a great buy to buy 5 lbs of flour for a certain amount of money, it might be a better financial investment in the long run to buy 50 lbs of flour. It costs less per pound and will last you longer. Be sure to check costs before buying. And if you’re buying a bigger priced item like 50lbs of flour, be sure to have done research beforehand so you know how to store it, have the adequate space and you know you can use it before it will spoil.
Make a list.
Make a list of the essentials. What do you usually make each week? What is your comfort food? Stock up on the items you use most and then you will have your go to meals that you can pre-prepare and put in your freezer. When it comes down to it, and the finances are tight, there’s nothing better than comfort food.
Saving money and buying in bulk, while it seems crazy, will save you time and money. Planning ahead and cooking your meals and freezing them will also save you in the long run. When you’re running out of money, and the tension is high, food is what is going to bring your family together.
Avoid the trends.
One of the latest trend is called “eat from your pantry” and it’s a challenge to see if you can clean out your pantry by eating meals only from it to save money. While I understand the reason behind it, if you’re building a stockpile like me, then it’s important not to clean out your pantry when in good times.
While it’s obvious that we need to eat out of our pantries (because we don’t buy it just to look at it), eating it all in good times will bring sorrow when we fall on bad times.
While stocking your pantry may seem like a new trend, it’s one that is thousands of years old. The Bible tells us:
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. -Titus 2:3-5
So, by learning from our elders and how they kept their homes (and their pantries,) not only can we prepare for the worst, but we can serve our husbands, families and the Lord.
How do you save money on groceries? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook!
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