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Be Prepared For Lean Times

I live in a smallish town where shopping is limited and, as with a town with little, competition prices are high. I have learned to keep the pantry and freezer stocked. Twice a month, we go shopping. We make a trip 20 miles up the road. Armed with our list, we visit several stores that we frequent.

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Once we get home, the real work begins. I admit it does take a while to "put food by" this way, but when storms loom on the horizon, you won't find me rushing to a store, fighting a crowd, for milk and bread! Not only do I save money doing it this way, I am able to control the portion size better!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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July 23, 20121 found this helpful

Many great ideas and some I also use. We have a small pantry but it is well stocked as it the freezer. We also buy batteries at Costco for the flameless candles and flashlights along with T.P. and PT and cleaning supplies. These are kept away from food items but in the same room. It will be hard for people to understand that food prices will jump fast this drought time. Just as gas and all other bills will follow. Buying in bulk always is better if you can and learn to budget time as well as money. Waste not, want not. GG Vi

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February 10, 20161 found this helpful

Being a city girl, it is so easy to not plan ahead. However, with the CDN dollar dropping (we live north of the border), I've begun to rethink how I shop. Stocking up and buying bulk goods has now become part of my shopping life. Also, and this is so important for those of us who do not live in warmer climates, whether you're in the USA or Canada, buy local fruits and vegetables as much as possible. The further it has to travel, the more it's going to cost. Add in the exchange rate, and well, you get the picture. Thanks for your great tips.

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April 1, 20160 found this helpful

REALLY GOOD IDEAS,, THANKS FOR THE TIPS.

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February 4, 20200 found this helpful

Enjoyed reading about your ideas on stocking up a pantry/freezer. Found it educational, especially about the food saver. The freezing ideas were also good. Didn't know I could freeze yeast!I'll be looking for the food saver with the jar attachment. What a good idea.

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February 4, 20200 found this helpful

Excellent habits! We are doing some of those things but you definitely suggested a few new ones! Thanks!

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September 28, 20200 found this helpful

All of these are fanastic ideas and as I was reading I have been reminded of me doing the same thing. It is just myself and I figure my family will be showing up in trouble times and there is enough for all of us. I will take milk also skim or fat free and mix equal parts with regular and then freeze, they never know the difference. Thanks for bringing all this up so others can learn and pay attention

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October 7, 20200 found this helpful

I wish I had a town 20 miles away that had a bread store, a Sam's or Costco store near us. Our closest stores are 45 miles away and the Sam's and Costco are 190 miles from our home. There are no bread stores their either. They have started to give the day old bread to the food bank. We do go the 190 miles about every 3-6 months when we have DR. appointments at VA but we have to be satisfied with Walmart, Albertson's and Lowe's Grocery. What we do have is a plethora of Dollar Stores of all Sorts. But their groceries are outrageous.

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