The First Step: The Pantry

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Once I decided I needed to prepare my family for potential emergencies, I knew what my first step would be. The pantry. We needed a lot more food. I have been going to the store every few days lately, which is not only poor planning, but a recipe for financial disaster. The more often you go, the more likely you are to spend extra money on unnecessary items. Not to mention the waste of gas and time.

I knew we had a good amount of meat in the freezer from recent sales I've seen. But canned food was scarce. My first goal is to amass a month's worth of food. So I sat down and made a one-week menu, a list of needed ingredients, and doubled it. That gave me two weeks worth of food. My plan was to go to the store, and attempt to double it again, if we had the money, or just get the amount on the list. Now, you wouldn't want to buy a huge amount of food based on a one-week menu plan...boredom would set in very quickly. But this is my plan for the short term. I was able to get almost a whole month's worth of the basics. I still need more sucanat and whole wheat from the health food store, but we're short on money this week, so I'll wait til next time.

When our next paycheck comes, I'll make a new one-week menu, and repeat the process. We get paid every two weeks. So every two weeks, I'll buy one month worth of food. Within three months, I should have an extra three months worth of food on hand at all times.

You may wonder how I can afford this. We're not rich, or well-off, or even "comfortable", although our financial situation is improving. Once all our debts are current, I would consider us doing "okay". Right now, we are "struggling less". LOL.

Basically, we spent about the same as we normally would on food for two weeks, including fast food. So we've given up fast food, and have made a commitment to eat at home from now on, unless it is necessary because one of us is on the road. (The day I shopped, I was gone for over seven hours, which I didn't expect to be, so I ate out.) Although I'm trying to get healthier food for my family, and try to buy some organic food when I can, I decided this week would be almost all regular food, because having SOME food in the pantry was more important. After the pantry is a little fuller, I will try to incorporate more organic food. All food bought in bulk, like flour, etc. will still be organic, as it is reasonably cheap to buy it that way. Whole wheat organic flour is usually .69 a pound.

I shopped at Aldi's, because some of their food is very inexpensive. You have to know your prices, though. Some foods I can get cheaper at Sam's Club or Walmart. I bought a case each of corn, green beans, diced tomatoes with chiles, large cans of pears. I bought ten pounds of boneless chicken tenderloins. Chicken breasts are usually cheaper, but I found tenderloins much more tender, quicker and easier to cook without overcooking the edges, and easier to calculate portions, especially when you have a lot of little ones. I also bought enough soap, and shampoo to last a month. It will be nice to have that stuff on hand, as it never fails that once the shampoo runs out, so does our soap, dish liquid, razor blades, toothpaste, etc. , and usually all during a week when we're broke, lol.

At Sam's Club I bought a gallon jug of salad dressing, some produce, and eight small jugs of organic juice (probably should have gone with regular, but it was a good price). I bought three cases of bottled water (soon I want my own high-end water filter to save money), a large container of deli meat (the only inexpensive way to buy it), and a ton of toilet paper and paper towels. (My husband still likes using them, and my mini hand towels are still packed up somewhere.)

At Walmart we bought a gallon of mayo (cheaper than Sam's club, surprisingly), razor blades, some canned soups, and some miscellaneous things, including Easter candy. I haven't added it up yet, but I think I spent around $300 not including the Easter candy. I did spend some extra money on a few unnecessary items such as new Easter baskets, etc. that isn't included in that amount.

As an aside, the "Easter bunny" does NOT visit our house. Easter here is about the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord, not a fictitious bunny who gives them candy. We do have baskets and an Easter egg hunt, but our children know that these are given by us, as a celebration of a religious occasion.

Back to the pantry issue...I couldn't believe it, but I actually fit almost all this food into our little pantry cabinet. It's not quite full. I'm glad it all fit, because cabinet space is at a premium in this newer house. The amount we spent would have been more if we hadn't already had some items, especially meat. But most of the menu calls for chicken breasts for dinner, which will come out of the ten pounds I bought. I know that once my pantry is stocked well, my costs will be even lower, because I can shop by what's on sale, and buy in bulk. I know I probably didn't get every thing I needed for this month, and of course things like milk will need to be bought again before my next shopping trip, but it's a start.

3 Responses to "The First Step: The Pantry"

Michelle Says :
7:46 AM

I really enjoyed reading this. I've been really busy lately and have not posted much, but a few weeks ago I posted about my pantry too. More in a frugal context than a survival one, but I suppose it all correlates.

lesley Says :
11:38 AM

After reading your post I've realized that it is really important to have a good food supply on hand and that I've let my pantry and freezer get pretty bare. (I think I am paying more to keep my deep freezer on, then it is actually saving me money:) thanks for the inspiration to stock them back up again!

Mommaroo2 Says :
2:40 PM

Thank you for the kind comments.

I think I forgot to mention, in case anyone was wondering, that the white box on the top shelf is a cardboard box that holds bread-type items: bagels, bread, tortillas. I find it keeps them from sliding all over the place and getting smushed, or pushed to far back and forgotten about.

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