Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Only You Can Decide

 I see so many people on FB asking questions about stocking and being prepared for whatever may come our way.  So many are new to the idea of not just having a weeks worth of groceries on hand.  That really amazes me every time I see it.  As long as I can remember, my folks and myself always had plenty of extra on hand.  Even when I was little and my folks didn't have much money, they had food.  Yes, there was a garden and Mom canned and froze - but even back then, things in the world were sketchy.  
It has been prudent to have EXTRA for decades.  You just never know what could happen.

You can go slow - you don't have to spend a fortune all at once.  Most of us that have been stocking up, spend a little extra every week.  We look for sales and deals.  I understand that when getting started it isn't logical to go out and spend $1,000 or even a $100 all at once.   Buy some extra every time you go to the store - EVERY TIME!

You buy what you use!!!!!!  What your family uses!!!!!  Don't be buying things you wouldn't ever buy for normal day to day living (unless for barter purposes).  Only you know what your family eats and uses - no one else can tell you what to get.
Make sure you think about things other than food.  Health and beauty items, paper products, OTC medicines, first aid, pet products, cleaning, laundry, etc.

That depends on how long you want to be prepared for.  The best way to decide - is pick your time frame.  A month, 2 months, 6 months, a year or more.  Look at what you use per week - then multiply that amount by the time frame you are stocking for.
EXAMPLE - Use 2 lbs. of pasta a week - for 2 months you would want 16 lbs. on hand.

Always remember - first in first out.  Rotate your pantry stock.  Keep the older products to the front for quickest use - place new items to the back.  Always rotate items.
REMEMBER - "best if used by" dates are NOT expiration dates!!!!!!  If kept cool and dry most items are good for waaaayyyyy past that date.

Most items can be kept for quite long periods of time.  If you have dry goods to stock - think seriously about storing items in glass jars.  You can use canning jars or get gallon size glass jars - nothing can get into them.  Tins are great for keeping things like sugars, pasta, flour, etc. (like big popcorn tins).  Food storage buckets can also be used.  Place items in totes - just keep things protected.
Use bay leaves in your dry goods - they help keep pests away.  Keep things dry and cool.

Do whatever works for you.  I personally keep an inventory list of what is in the freezer (sort of).  Yes I clean and straighten and make a wonderful list - then it kind of goes by the wayside!  I'm bad!!  But I have an idea of what I have.
I sort the freezer by types of meat or food.  A shelf for frozen veggies, an area for pork, chicken, beef, etc.  That makes it easier to find things.
In the pantry you can keep a running inventory as well.  A pencil and paper will work - just change totals as you buy or use.  Hang a clip board in or by your pantry with a list.  Keep a notebook in pantry - make a spread sheet - what ever you want.
I like to keep the pantry organized in some way as well.  Baking goods together, fruits, veggies, soups, pasta and rice, etc.  I have things grouped together - make life easier. 
I do this in my 'deep' pantry as well.  
What is a deep pantry?  Well, that is my extra - my grocery store at home.  A place I can go and get stock to replace my daily pantry items that have been used.

You also need to know how to SUBSTITUTE.  Don't have bread or can't buy it - make biscuits or tortillas.  Can't get sugar - use honey.  Not enough meat - look to and use other proteins.  Know what you can use - just in case.  Use your imagination and get creative.  That is ever so IMPORTANT in stocking.
Life is all about getting creative and using what you have.

Every little thing you do makes a difference.  I have said so many times that buying cheaply today is basically like money in the bank tomorrow!
Inflation happens - it will continue to happen, no doubt about it.  There will be shortages at times.  There will be tough times ahead.  It may be illness, loss of job, weather emergency, age restrictions, economic problems, etc.  There is a world of things that we prepare for.

Watch those sales.  Watch for deals.  Get things as cheaply as possible.  Stock what you use.  Use what you stock!  Continue to add to your stock every time you go to store.  Set you time schedule that you want to be prepared for.  Keep your items safe from pests.

As my hubby used to say - PLAN YOUR WORK AND WORK YOU PLAN!!!!!!!!
Your future may depend on it!


  1. I echo your comment "buy what you use". I keep seeing folks online putting cheap stuff they never consume, into their pantry for "what if". Well, it's $ wasted if you're not going to consume and rotate it. I will never understand "but it was cheap".

    Sadly for us, this heat out West is cruel. I have yet to see a tomato. Flowers die at 95F and it has been constant for 5 weeks straight with only 1d below.

    So, we're unlikely to be getting our usual 50 quarts of ratatouille in the freezer or dozens of pints of salsa this year. Buying all of the organic ingredients would be exorbitant $ so we may forego this winter food option sad as that sounds to me.

    And such is the life of a farmer right? The ups and the downs. We will make do with what we stored last year. Next year I'll plan a bigger garden as 2 beds are lying fallow this season to rest.

    Happy Tuesday Cheryl and to all your readers :-)

    1. I agree 100%. It just amazes me of some of the stuff people buy for 'in case'. If you don't eat it now - you won't eat it then - well at least most wouldn't.

      I am so sorry you having such a bad year for crops and oh that heat. Yes, stretch out what you have left to get by. Just MAYBE you might find a deal on tomatoes, but in case you don't, you know you will still survive. Fallow fields can be good for harvests. Hoping next year is better.
      Have a great day!

  2. I'm always amazed at people who go to the store and note what things are on sale. How do they remember the normal cost? I would have to make a price book and carry it with me. However, I did take a step in that direction by making up a list of needed things to bulk up the pantry and looking up their prices on Amazon, then we made a trip to Wal Mart and found most things cheaper. I stocked up there.

    1. I do good remembering regular prices for the most part. My biggest thing is I know how much I am willing to pay for something! If it is over a certain amount - then I wait. Clearance items are pretty easy to discern.
      Lots of people do keep price books - I have never gone to that trouble.
      See, you have your own method started and that is great. We all do what is good for us. I love that. No one way!

    2. It makes me smile when my married daughters will call FROM the store because they just came upon an unexpected sale or markdown to ask me if the reduced price is at my price point to buy it!!!
      Sometimes it is and sometimes the “sale” or clearance price is NOT the price I keep as my “time to buy or stock up” price!!
      And never stock up on something that is unfamiliar to you or that you don’t normally eat! Buy 1 and try it right away and go back for more if you love it!!

    3. Gardenpat - how cool that they call! They are learning that way.
      Like you, I know how much I will pay and I wait till I get that price.
      Buy what you eat and eat what you buy!

  3. I just wish my adult kids would do this! They are convinced that n a time of disaster they can just rush to the store and buy a bunch of food.....along with everyone else who did not prepare. They are all too far away for us to help them.

    1. Crazy aint it????? Stores carry at most 2 - 3 days of supplies and with a mad rush - BOOM gone in a couple hours. I always think about when they say "snow" here. People go ape s**t to run to the store for milk, eggs, pop, snacks and booze! Then they complain the shelves are empty. My goodness, during snow - the most someone will be home is a few days - but what if worst happened?
      I just don't understand the thinking.

  4. Great post with good, basic information!
    As a corollary of "Buy what you use", I would add that now is a good time to have your family try new foods and meals using more basic, versatile foods. Many times people will say they don't like a certain food when they have never even tried it. Kids are especially bad about this. Back when I was a kid (and dinosaurs roamed the earth) we didn't get to choose what we ate. If we didn't like what was for supper we could have bread and butter or go hungry. Obviously, there are food allergies and sensitivities that it is logical to avoid. Attitude counts. Good, frugal, easy to source in hard times meals become no hardship when the family is already used to having them and they are presented in a matter-of-fact way. You might be surprised at what your spouse and kids are willing to eat if presented in a good recipe as something tasty.

    As for not thinking you don't have money to start buying a little extra, take a good look at your last couple of grocery receipts and start subtracting some of the non-essentials. Pop, snacks and booze are not essential but cost big money in a small budget. So do frequent restaurant/carry-out meals.

    For a freezer inventory (especially important in my chest freezer out on the mud porch), I use a dry-erase board that I keep in the house. Remembering to add or subtract what I put in or take out is a small problem, but I do have a pretty good idea of what is in there without having to empty it to find something. When it cools off this fall, I will empty it and update the inventory. I have a good idea of what is in my immediate pantry and longer term storage without writing it down. It also comes in handy when making a grocery list, as I can see at a glance what I need.

    I've never used a price book, but could probably tell you what Aldi charges for just about everything I buy. If I shopped at many stores, I would definitely need a price book.

    1. You are so right about meals. Good and basic is ALL we really need - but yes, now is the time to try new things. I was like you growing up - eat it or not. That was the choice.
      I eat just about everything today - including what I 'didn't like' when I was a kid. (except cottage cheese - still won't eat that)
      I guess you can eat a lot you don't like if you HAVE to.
      You sound like me with the freezer. I write it all down and have such good intentions - then I fall short. But like you, I have a good knowledge of what is in there.
      I think there may be advantages of shopping many stores - but disadvantages too!

  5. You are so transformative and I wish everyone would read you posts.

  6. Like you I can't understand how anyone survives on only one weeks food storage.

    Now that the garden is producing I only have to buy fruit and dairy (milk) each week and would love to be able to freeze milk and produce more of my own fruits.

    My mom had to walk to the grocery store so always stocked up and I think I have continued that during my life. This is the first time we have lived only a few blocks from a grocery store, before this it was a 25 minute drive to get groceries so stocking up was necessary.

    Started small with a few extra's a trip and now I have a fully stocked pantry and freezers.

    God bless.

    1. I don't get it either. I will feel so unsafe and insecure.
      Good for you - gardens sure are lovely to have.
      Starting small and building up is a great way to do it. Glad you are prepared.

  7. Well said Cheryl. My Brexit boxes really helped in the early weeks of the pandemic and I am still stocking up. I have a freezer list, pantry list and elsewhere list. Dates are marked on everything so I don’t have to keep putting on my glasses:) Also read a great saying “two is one and one is none”.

    1. Love that saying! We should replace as we use it.
      Good for you. You sound really well prepared and organized.

  8. I like tins! However, they are not airtight, bugproof, or vermin-proof, moisture-proof. Ask me how I know! I do love Ball canning jars for storage. Good post, as usual.

    1. Oops! So sorry. I have never had problems with the stuff I have put in them - guess I have been lucky.
      Glass jars are wonderful!

  9. Our refrigerator went out on Monday. Refrigerators are seriously on back order in most stores. That certainly has me rethinking a lot of things this week. I may have a purple or orange refrigerator by the end of the week, but I’ve got to buy something!!

    1. I am so sorry. What a bummer. I have heard that they are back ordered as well. Get whatever you can - don't worry about color or style. It is important to have.
      Best of luck!

  10. Excellent and concise post on how to keep supplies on hand for anything that can happen. Yup, new stuff goes to the back of the line. I take a Sharpie and write the sell by year on the front of the label. We are still using some older cans (2018). Some foods don't keep as well as others, so those are composted. Treat your pantry or freezer as the store...organize like items together.

    I feel for Little PenPen. A washer or dryer is one thing, but a refrigerator is a much more immediate need. It is weeks before an appliance can be delivered. The washer we bought had one of the shortest delivery times. Wouldn't you know it came with a dent? They said to use it until the new one comes in. I would imagine the used appliance stores like Jon's Used Appliances are just about out of everything.

    I have a giant Mr. Stripy tomato sitting on the counter, just ready for BLTs this morning! The yellow pear, cherry and grape tomatoes have really taken off. Made a salad for lunch yesterday with leftover chicken, bowtie pasta, zucchini, broccoli, cucumber, two kinds of peppers, lots of little tomatoes, and red onion.

    Stay cool! Jim says next week will be better.

    1. Yes indeed. Our pantries and freezers are our stores.
      I know that is a shame. I hope she can get a frig soon. I didn't even think about a used store - in this weather I would take what I could get.

      Mr. Stripy tomatoes are so good. I grew them one year. ENJOY. My cherry toms are just starting to think about being ripe - so others soon.
      A couple more days and a cool down in on the way! YAY