Snow at the Whitehouse! When the power went out in freezing temperatures and store shelves emptied in a few hours, many more people than before realized the need to stock up for emergencies. Freezing temperatures, ice and snow is ruining much of our country's commercial crop. While it's blizzarding in the north, it's freezing in the south, and flooding in between!
We're hearing a lot of warnings to stock up on food, and most people I know are doing it! So, what if you're feeling that sense of urgency but just can't scrape up an extra dollar to do it with? Don't despair! By shopping a little bit differently, you can spend the same amount you usually do, and still fill your pantry at the same time!
Let's use canned peaches for an example: A regular can of peaches will cost between about $.79 and $1.50 - maybe less, maybe more - depending on exact size, brand, the store you purchase it from, etc. A #10 can of peaches at Costco costs about 3 1/2 dollars. It's a 106 oz. can. That's the equivalent of just over 7 of the regular 15 oz. cans, which comes out to about $.50 per 15 ounces. It's pretty darn hard to find a 15 oz. can of peaches for 50 cents! Unless your local grocer is having a whopping case lot sale.
So here's how you do it: The next time you go shopping, you by-pass the 2 cans of green beans for dinner, and put that cost towards one #10 can of peaches. The next time, you cut back on something else, and instead buy a #10 or two of green beans. Each time you shop, for-go a few non-essentials and instead, get a 20 lb. bag of rice (no more little boxes!), or a 10 lb. bag of beans or dry soup mix. Even if all you can do is one or two items each time you shop, it really will add up fast! Buying in bulk gets you a whole lot more for your money. You can apply this principle to just about any food item.
Hopefully you have access to a warehouse style store. If not, even grocery stores sometimes carry a few bulk items. And if all else fails, there is always the internet. Because of shipping costs, it's a better value to shop on line when you have larger orders. Get some neighbors, friends or relatives to add to an order and you can all benefit together, and help each other out at the same time.
You can find most all the wet-pack items in #10 cans - peaches, pears, pineapple, apple sauce, peas, beans, carrots, beets, corn - and a whole lot more. Warehouse or wholesale stores sell all the major cooking items in bulk for restaurants. You can get #10 cans of tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, pickles, olives, mayo, other spreads and condiments, kidney and other legume beans, cheese sauce, chili, soups, etc. Dry-pack items also come in #10 cans, as well as other packaging.
Instead of buying one small bottle of cooking oil at a time, cut enough items out of your regular list one day to buy a 5 quart jug of oil instead. Then use that to keep refilling a small bottle that you keep in the kitchen.
I buy almost all my staple ingredients in bulk. Things like powdered milk, popcorn (50 lb. bags), honey, oats, rice, wheat, millet, black beans, kidney and other beans, lentils, split peas, pasta, sugar, flour, cracked cereals, corn meal, and dry soup mixes. I usually grind fresh flour for cooking and baking, but I also keep some flour for times when the power is out or I specifically need some white flour for a recipe. (I also have a small hand-crank grinder.)
This really is easy to do! I can make a meal for a fraction of what it would cost to buy all the same ingredients in smaller, one-meal sized portions. Buy the largest sized bag of frozen vegetables you can find. Then, while you are using that a little at a time for your meals, use the saved cost towards another item on the next trip to the store. Think BIG! Stocking up really is do-able!
If you live alone or have a small family, buying #10 canned items of wet-pack may be a little less convenient for you. I buy both, and maybe you'll want to do the same. If you are single, or a couple, maybe the #10 cans can come in handy when the kids come to visit with all the grandkids. Also, you can open a big can, use what you need, and put the rest in the freezer in single-serving containers. My mom will often buy a large bag or bucket of something and then split it with my sisters and I, and we've all done the same. It won't save you any money if the food ends up going to waste, so plan ahead so it fits into meals, freeze it, or do whatever else works for your situation. Just be sure and put a little peace of mind in your pantry!