One of the stores we go to is a "day old" bread store. Loaves of bread there are approximately 1/3 the cost of the very same bread purchased at a store. This bread will freeze in our chest freezer for a month without any type of burn. We also pick up Angel Food cake bars, along with hamburger and hot dog buns. Later in the evening upon returning home, I will slice the cake, wrap each piece in a section of plastic wrap, and place in a large freezer bag, and place in freezer. It is a snap to take out what we need and allow it to thaw when ready to use. Since we do not use the buns as fast as regular bread, I do the same to it.
Then we hit the "stock up" store! We buy several gallons of milk, some I will separate into clean jugs to freeze. I also keep boxes of powdered milk on hand. I have found that you cannot tell the difference in it and what you buy from the dairy case. (We use skim milk.)
We also buy cereal and crackers here. They will be placed in clean mason jars at home, and the lids vacuum sealed, using my jar attachment on my foodsaver. They will be as fresh the day I open them as the day I placed them in the jar! I also have jars of candy sealed, left over from holidays! That way the kids do not gorge themselves, I can dole it out a little at a time.
Although I am a home canner, we also stock up on canned goods. We buy "flats" of 12 cans. I will date the box with a marker, and place this box under the ones previously purchased.
Meats I will divide up. Using my foodsaver, I will vacuum seal them in small portions. Some items, like shaped burgers, I will flash freeze first, then vacuum seal.
We also buy no-name diet soda here and find it tastes the same as name brand. Yes, I know a lot of people feel soda is a no no, but we like it, so we purchase it. It is about 1/2 of what the name brand will cost at the local stores.
Occasionally, we go to the warehouse club, too. There I will buy a 5 pound bag of shredded cheese. To store this, I will place a half cup into a snack size baggie, I will zip it closed leaving a small opening and insert a straw into the bag. I suck out the air and zip it closed. I will put these bags of shredded cheese into a larger freezer bag and freeze.
We purchased large bags of frozen fruit there, too. Since they come in resealable bags, there is nothing else we need to do with them.
While there, I like to visit their deli section, and purchase a 10+ pound loaf of such meats as baked turkey breast or low fat honey ham. We ask them to slice it super thin. (They call it shaved or wafer cut.) This I will separate and vacuum seal them to freeze.
They also carry foot long hoagie rolls which my family loves. I will do them like I do the angel food cake. I will cut it into 4 portions per roll, wrap each portion in plastic wrap, place them in a freezer bag, and freeze.
Other items I keep on hand is yeast (kept in the freezer), wheat flour (kept in the freezer), rice (vacuum sealed in quart jars), and a variety of spices and seasonings.
Plus I keep extra personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper on the shelves in the basement pantry.
It does take a bit to get the knack of things. Keeping track of what you have, rotating items, etc. And to stock up it does cost a bit more to begin with, but it is worth it for us. In the past, I found that running to the store just to pick up an item we were out of cost a lot of money! Not only the cost of the gasoline to go to the store (we have no public transportation here), but it seemed that I would always impulse buy. By staying out of the stores, I keep more money in my purse.
When the cold wind blows and snowflakes swirl through the air, I can decide to make a huge pot of chili. I feel good knowing crackers are just a step away!
By Beverly from MO
Spring-rods come in many sizes and the length can be adjusted in one of 2 ways depending on the type you buy. One type gets larger and smaller simply by turning half of the rod clockwise or counter-clockwise. Another type uses a screwdriver to turn a screw at the base of a spring to adjust the size. Spring-rods come in white or gold and cost from $2 to about $8. You can thread the spring-rod through the hem of a sheet (after removing several inches of stitching at either side of the hem) or simply fold your fabric over the rod so the fabric covers the whole bookcase and you can't see your food.
The least expensive bookcases come in a box and you need to assemble them yourselves. They usually come in white, black and a fake woodgrain. My favorite place to buy them is a liquidation store like "Big Lots" or Thrift Stores because that's where you'll get the best prices. Be sure to look around, they go on sale often at Target and K-mart and every store has different prices. I recently bought a set 72 inches high by 4 feet wide brand new for only $30, these were melamine over particleboard.
If you want real wood, you'll need to paint or stain them for easy cleaning. If they need painted, I suggest you paint them to match your walls. You'll wonder how you ever lived without this extra storage space!
When I was younger, I raised 4 kids and didn't have enough cabinets to store all our food when we bought a tiny house. Against one bare wall in our kitchen, I simply put in a row of matching shelves and hung curtains on each to hide the messy food. Costco, here we come!
* A Note: Sometimes it's cheaper to buy shelves made for garage use instead of home use.
I work every morning, and many times we will have someplace we need to go in afternoon, so we are always looking for a fast lunch before we leave, or dinner when we get back home. I have found that we can reheat leftovers from the freezer or pop in a frozen pizza or pot pie, corn dog, or skillet dinner. We can eat for very little and take off, rather than stopping in a restaurant to eat while on the go. We save a lot of money by doing this, use our leftovers wisely as well. Meanwhile, we still have room to store the 'usual' foods such as summer veggies, sale priced meats, etc.
This second freezer is also handy to store our corn meal. Greer has a 100+ year old grist mill that grinds the very best corn meal. When we go there for a purchase, we will get 10 - 15 lbs and store the extra in the freezer. It saves us a trip, keeps bugs from getting to the corn meal, and allows us the luxury of that great Suber's corn meal!
Another plus is that when we go camping, we can buy our meats and things to take with us ahead of time, store in the freezer, and just transfer to the camper freezer when ready to go. This aides the fridge in the camper to get cool quicker, too, saving on gas used to cool it down. We found too that we can freeze a gallon milk jug or 2 liter drink bottle of water, and use that rather than buying ice to fill our ice chest. It chills our drinks till we get there, then refreezes once we get there, to use coming back home if needed, then goes right back in the freezer for our next camping trip.
Since we now do have room, we buy extra parrot mix for our pet parrot, and store it in the freezer too. No bugs are in the food, and it costs way less to buy in bulk and keep it this way. It works great for dog food and outside bird seed too, if we have that kind of room left.
By Jacketbacker from Greer, SC
Freezing a portion of the vegetables is convenient. I can then choose the vegetables I want from the freezer before having to restock my pantry. Once I have several containers of a variety of vegetables in the freezer, I take them out and make some delicious vegetable soup, a vegetable casserole, or add them to a chicken pot pie. Declaring one night a week "veggie night" and adding a special bread or dessert to the meal is a delicious way to empty the refrigerator of leftover vegetables.
Most of the time, meat is also less expensive when purchased in large packages. I consider that a convenience rather than a problem. I simply freeze the meat in portion sizes that match my cooking style and take out what I need when I need it.
Small packages or boxes of cookies, chips, cereal, and many other prepackaged items are more expensive by unit or volume amount than larger size packages. It's simply more frugal to buy the larger packages as long as you repackage them so that they stay fresh. These items will stay fresh for an extended period of time if they are stored in air tight containers.
By Rachel Paxton
Shoppers have enjoyed the convenience of buying in bulk for a number of years. My own bulk buying experiences have been hit and miss at best, but I recently discovered just how convenient buying in bulk can be.
There are a number of advantages to buying in bulk:
When you buy in bulk it's a good idea to get your cupboards in order. There are a number of ways you can store bulk items:
A key to bulk storage is labeling. Make sure all containers are air-tight and clearly labeled and dated. Bulk items have a long shelf life because they have been prepared with long-term storage in mind. For more bulk storage ideas see http://www.nursehealer.com/Storage.htm.
I've always wondered if bulk items are as fresh as packaged. In my experience bulk items have been very fresh--even raisins! You'd be amazed at all the things you can buy in bulk. Here's a partial list to get you thinking of the possibilities: