Stocking up can be a great way to save money, but if it's not done properly it can do exactly the opposite. To succeed one must have a good grasp on the household's habits as well as a good sense of organization.
It doesn't do much good to purchase items and properly preserve them if they won't go to good use. Do some homework first. Flip through the recipe file and make a list of the common foods your family eats. Keep several weeks' grocery receipts and check for repeat purchases. If you're noticing that you use cream of celery soup often while baking, utilize coupons that save on five cans of soup and stock up.
How to stock up is an important decision. Visit the local library and look into books on canning and freezing. While canning can be quite rewarding, it can also be time consuming. Freezing takes little time, but foods taste differently after they are frozen. Neither method can be used on a large scale without some initial investments such as canning supplies or a freestanding freezer. In all, it's a personal decision about which method to use.
One of the main reasons things go to waste is because one forgets the items are there. Keep all stocked up items together; purchasing low cost shelving will help. Meanwhile, keep a list of the items that are currently "in stock." A wipe-off message board helps with this. By listing what is in a freezer, meal planning becomes easier. It also helps to avoid purchasing items that are already well-stocked.
Just because the latest recipe was a hit doesn't mean you should stock up on enough supplies to make thirteen batches of it. The love wears thin after about five dishes. Instead, stock up on the essentials and necessities that can be used in a variety of ways.
When stocking up a sage piece of advice is this: check the expiration dates! Frozen or canned food will not last forever, and the dangers of expired foods are not worth any amount of savings. Rotate foods so that the oldest products are in the front, and always label canned or frozen foods with the date purchased. Most cookbooks or preserving cookbooks offer expiration periods for preserved foods.
Two resources for preserving are: Stocking Up! by Carol Hupping and Preserving Summer's Bounty: A Quick and Easy Guide to Freezing, Canning, and Preserving, and Drying What You Grow by Rodale Food Center, Susan McClure
About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at Englishteach@rcn.com or visit her website at http://users.rcn.com/wesavedamutt/Writer
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