Over the years my husband and I have been employed, temporarily unemployed, underemployed and self-employed. We have learned the hard way to really stretch a dollar.
But even living paycheck to paycheck and especially then, we found ways to stock up the shelves and always have food on hand. Enough in fact that both of my daughters have said that if ever anything catastrophic happens, like a Zombie Apocalypse, they are moving back in with us.
Growing as much of your own food and learning how to preserve it is essential. Just the fact that you are reading this you are already doing that, or getting ready to.
Good for you!
What else can you do to fill those shelves up when money is tight and food costs are soaring?
Here are some ideas:
1. BOGO: At first you need to start small. If you find a buy one get one sale on a non-perishable item, put one away. If you have to, hide it so it does not get used. Do take note of the expiration date.
2. Buy ingredients. Instead of buying bread, buy flour and yeast. Learn to make it by hand or eventually get a bread machine. Trust me, they pay for themselves in pizza alone. Don’t hand out money for pancake mix, when making it yourself is simple. Likewise other mixes and sauces. There are tons of recipes online to do just that.
We make up a bunch of bread mixes, label what we need to add, and place them on the shelf. It’s faster to make bread than to go to the store and buy it, and a whole lot better tasting, too.
Likewise we have our own cake mix on the shelf. As the holidays approach, cookie mixes will be added.
3. Buy in bulk. It may be a while before you can do this, but it saves money in the long run. My husband loves Jasmin-scented rice. At the local market, it’s very pricey. Instead we get it in 25 pound bags from an area Asian food supply store.
4. Use coupons, but don’t get trapped. Never buy something just because you have a coupon, unless you are getting it for free. Also don’t buy a name brand with a coupon if the store brand is less expensive.
You can be more creative with your coupons than you might realize. For example, your store may be selling an item as Buy 2, get one free with coupon. The coupon is for the free one, not the other two. So if you have two 50 cents off coupons, you can use them as well. If your store doubles the coupons, you now have 3 items for $2 less than it normally costs for 2. Pretty good, right?
5. Buy seasonally. Items go on sale at different times of year, due to holidays, growing times, etc. This is a good time to grab the chance to stock up. Keep in mind you can put up fresh produce, even meat that you get from the market when it is on sale.
6. Make the most of what you buy. If you need a fresh orange or lemon, don’t toss out the skin. Grate it, let it sit overnight to dry, and now you have lemon or orange zest. Have you seen how much that is in the stores? And people are just tossing it into the compost. Or worse.
7. Make it yourself. Many items like laundry soap and other cleansers, toothpaste, and deodorant can be made at home. Check out our Pinterest board Make Your Own, Save Money for recipes and directions.
Instead of buying boneless chicken, buy the whole thing and cut it up yourself, using the carcass to make soup. You can preserve that as well.
Go to the market early if you can, and check out any older produce they may have on sale. If they have tomatoes and peppers, for example, bring them home and make soup or sauce. Those items can also be frozen as is, and thawed for use later.
When it comes to food, like many things, time really is money.
But with just a few simple tricks, you can save on both.