A well stocked pantry
I am not going to beat a dead horse here, but a well stocked and well-organized pantry is absolutely crucial to saving money and managing a simple kitchen. Also a basic knowledge of cooking and baking. You can’t turn to the internet for help on substitutions and simpler creations if you don’t have the basics on hand. you’ll end up going to the store for items and just caving in and buying that fried chicken that is cheap today because its cheap chicken Thursday. LOL As I write this it does happen to be cheap chicken Thursday. So I may splurge a bit and get the family some fried chicken. But I digress. Let’s get back to stocking the pantry.
What exactly is a well stocked pantry?
For me that is a 25 lb bag of flour, wheat flour, sugar, and soybeans. Then an extra container of things like brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, Crisco, chocolate chips, flavorings, food coloring, sprinkles (because everything is better with sprinkles especially pancakes), tomato product like sauce, paste, diced, beans both dry and canned, cream of chicken/mushroom soups, chicken/beef bullion or base, rice, yeast things like this. If I listed out everything I keep in my pantry you might just die laughing or kill your device’s battery.
By having these basic things on hand you can easily make a quick casserole outta scraps if needed, or throw some flour and yeast in the bread machine and make a loaf of bread to help fill the tummy.
How to start your well stocked pantry
- buying in bulk
Knowing the stores in your area, their sale cycles, and which ones are the cheapest are very helpful. That will take some time to get a system down for your family and your area, but it can be done. For us here in Washington we have WINCO and Grocery Outlet. When we lived in Illinois and New Jersey, we used ALDI and I loved it. Unit pricing is also a contributing factor. Sometimes buying the largest package isn’t actually the best deal. You must know how much each unit costs. Especially with sales and using coupons. Frequently its cheaper per ounce to buy several small bottles of say, laundry detergent, and just fill your jug up than it is to buy that huge jug…Don’t get me wrong, I love my huge jug with the dispenser! I just buy the cheap little bottles when they are on sale with coupons, and keep pouring them into the bigger jug. Costco can be a good deal, but not always sometimes your favorite store will have family packs of meat on sale, just buy a few of those and divide them up if you have a small family or don’t use a lot of meat.
2) repackage large amounts into sizes your family uses
I used to get the 5 lb/10 lbs and that would be enough for an entire month, but as our family has grown I need to buy two or three now. Recently we have once again found huge packages of meat like ground beef and ground sausage in tubes/logs. Log o meat we call them. we buy a log o beef and a log o sausage and then divide them up into freezer containers when we get home. Keeps the cost of the meat per pound a little more reasonable, and keeps the freezer full.
a)Food-saver/vacuum seal machine
This is a new addition to my arsenal of helpful appliances! Now I have even more meat storing capabilities and ways to keep food fresh. I can buy a giant pack of pork chops at Cash N Carry (our local restaurant supply store that is open to the public) or Costco, and then seal them up in smaller portions for each meal. I also like to take the large turkey breast from Costco and slice it up into portions for salads or sandwiches and seal them. Great for camping!
3) icing buckets/food storage
Check your local grocery store’s bakery. They have the really good tight sealing buckets! They get icing in them. Ask the bakery manager if he/she has any they can give you/sell you. I got mine free by asking, but then that got popular and they started charging for them. Then when WINCO came along, they sell them in the back by the bulk food section.
4) good airtight containers
Many store carry them even the dollar store. I still have a few dollar store containers, but I’m slowly upgrading to better ones. I have several OXO brand pop top square ones that I’ve had since 2007. lol. Very good durable containers. They have even survived several military moves. My new favorites, are these black and red ones I got at WINCO. They have a twist lock/seal system. Very nice. I need to pick up another set next time I go. The other thing I use is these pretty red containers that I actually got for free off my local Buy Nothing Group. (more on that another post)
5) labels for containers
Tired mom brain won’t always remember which is baking soda and which is baking powder so make some kind of label. Many of my containers still have their hastily written label on a post it note which I then put clear packing tape over. Now I’m slowly changing them out to a much nicer label made of vinyl and applied in a uniformly organized state.
6) stock up on sales
Grocery stores have sales cycles. Meaning the same types of things go on sale every so many weeks and those sales rotate. Once you learn this for your area you can buy enough for your family for 6 weeks (sale rotation cycle). I’m not saying blow your budget here, but if you use a lot of something like sanitary pads and they are on sale for a good price, stock up if you have enough spending money. With 2 teens and myself that have periods, and another daughter who will get them in a few years, we use a lot of pads. I love when they go on sale! I’ll buy as many as I can, and send the girls through another line with more. We stash them in the drawer under the dryer and try to keep the drawer with enough for at least 2 months worth for each of us. That way there’s no emergency trips to the drugstore for a pad. Unless of course we’re out shopping and no one has on in their purse when the dreaded thing shows up.
7) all sales rotate by season
Almost all shelf stable items in the stores will be on sale at some point in the year. When they do go on sale buy shelf stable items enough for a year. It sounds crazy but if you think about it, it makes sense. In January when cold medications are on sale, I try to stock up at least a few bottles of each kind we use, because when you have a cold you don’t want to go out to get medicine. It’s nice to just go to the medicine shelf and grab a bottle. If they get close to the expiration date before you get to use them you can always donate it to a shelter or food bank too. Help out someone in need.
8) find the clearance section
Many grocery stores have a clearance shelf or area. Sometimes they put them in the aisle where that type of food is kept, or within the cold foods area for the cold foods. I have found mark – downs on everything from meats, dairy, cleaning, pet supplies, baby stuff, hair stuff, medicine, etc…And don’t forget to check the clearance items against your coupon binder! You can usually use coupons on clearance items too, unless it specifically says no on the coupon or in your stores coupon policy.
I sincerely hope that you have some ideas now on how to get your pantry stocked up and ready to help you save money and live better! Thank you for your time and have a blessed day.