Guest Post: Five Simple Ways To Build Your Pantry In 2011

Today I am excited to share this guest post with you from Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.  I've frequented her site for quite awhile and have gleaned so much from it.  I'm certain you'll find her helpful and inspiring, too.  What a blessing she is!  It's an honor to share her with you here today.

Having a good pantry can bless your family in many ways.  It can be as simple as not having to run to the store at the last minute because you’ve forgotten to buy an ingredient (because you always have everything on hand), to being able to cook a week’s worth of meals when you’re snowed in (and not having to brave the elements and face possibly empty store shelves for bread and milk, to being able to feed your family without shopping for a year because your family has lost their source of income.

In addition, having a well-stocked pantry will save you money (and not just the cost of gas for multiple last-minute store trips) because you can buy things ONLY when they are their lowest price.

Ready to save some money and be more prepared in 2011? Here are five simple ways to build your pantry this year:

1. Shop Sales

It sounds simple, and it is. Only buy food and toiletries on sale. Aim for the lowest priced sales, and only buy when prices are at their lowest. For example, chuck roast may be $4.99 a pound where you live. However, if you wait, it will go on sale. It may go on sale for $2.99 a pound, and you may think that’s okay. My personal rule is no meat over $2 a pound. If you’re willing to eat something else cheaper until the next sale, you can wait to buy chuck roast until it’s $1.99 or even $1.89 a pound.

Many foods go on sale for 50% off, and sometimes even up to 70% off. (And when you’re ready to save even more, coupons on top of sales can take you all the way up to 100% off on lots of items!)

This may sound great to you, but how are you going to eat in the meantime? Besides eating what’s cheapest this week, you can be prepared to only pay $2 or less per pound for meat every single time, by following step #2.

2. Buy More

When you see a great deal on something, stock up. Most sales run in 12 week cycles, so calculate how many you might need to get through to the next sale (or longer). For example, if pasta is on sale for .50 a pound, and you know you eat spaghetti once a month, buy at least three packages of spaghetti noodles. You’ll have only spent another $1.00 more than the one you would have bought for this month, and yet you’ll have saved money for the next couple of months. It may seem like a tiny thing, but as you practice this, you’ll end up spending significantly less in the long run, and you can cut your grocery budget by 60% or more--this year.

3.  Take Advantage of Produce in Season

We all know that peaches taste best in season. Like all fruits and vegetables, they’re cheapest at the same time that they’re the most delicious. Whether you get them from your own garden, a CSA, your local farmer’s market, a friend’s garden, or even from the grocery store, you’re going to pay the least when they’re the best, and wish that they could taste like that and cost like that all year long.

Instead of wishing, do something about it! Buy lots of fruit in season! Take it home, and freeze or can peaches, peach jam, peach nectar, and peach puree for baby food. And of course, don’t forget about apricots, pears, plums, apples, strawberries, and even grapefruit! Not only will this save you money on groceries, but you’ll have some inexpensive Christmas gifts for family and friends as well. There is nothing quite like apricot jam made with the ripest apricots available. Your friends and family will thank you—and ask for the same present next year.

If you’re wondering how you’re going to build up a pantry when you seem to already be eating everything in your house until next pay day, you can use this simple way (#4) to keep your pantry full:

4.  Buy Less Expensive Food

Have you ever added up the cost of your favorite meals? I have. I can feed my family of 8 for anywhere between $1.50 to $8 for all of us (and have leftovers, too!) I can stretch my money a lot further if I eat the less expensive meals more often each month. Many of those less-expensive meals are favorites at my house, so someone is always thrilled! If you eat more soups, rice, beans or potatoes, for example, your family will still be full, and you’ll have more money to use to buy more food for your pantry shelves. In 2010, I fed my family for less than $.70 per person per day. We ate the more expensive meals on occasion, but as we focused on the less expensive meals, we were able to eat plenty of delicious food—even though our income has been cut by 70%.

5.  Buy Staples in Bulk

There are many ways to buy in bulk. If you have a warehouse store like Sam’s Club, Costco, or B.J.’s, bulk purchases are simple. But even if you don’t, there are plenty of other places that you can buy from (and may want to buy from as well). If all you have is Walmart and your local grocery store, look for the big (25 pounds) of rice, beans, and flour on the bottom shelves. Beans for $1.25 a pound may not sound too expensive, but beans for 58.4 cents a pound are even better. Bulk purchases are a simple and quick way to inexpensively build up your pantry.

And if you’re not sure what your husband will think, be sure to stock his favorites more often with the money you’re saving, and have them ready to pull out for late-night dates after the children are in bed. In my pantry, we keep the chocolate chips (in the 5lb. bag) on the top shelf :)

Brandy Simper is the mother of 6 children.  She writes about frugal meals, homeschooling, gardening, sewing, and ways to save money at The Prudent Homemaker.  Be sure to visit her there!

Photos copyright The Prudent Homemaker

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  1. Brandi is such an inspiration. I love her site and have been in touch with her via email. Interesting to compare gardening notes with her to find out what we can grow in our respective climates. I have to say though, you do realize how blessed your are in the States to have such cheap grocery prices. Wow.. I cannot believe what you can buy meat and other staples for. In Australia prices are much higher and there is less competition. Costco has arrived here but only in the big cities. I am thankful for Aldi though. And to be able to grow some of own food. The devastating floods in Queensland have affected the supply of fruit and vegetables and the prices are about to soar. Our river is on flood watch so it is good to know I have wheat grain, rice and other supplies in my pantry but it is no match for Brandi's!

  2. What a great post! Many years ago my hubby was off work for 364 days! (one day short of a year, lol!). We lived on our savings and unemployment, and also the generosity of our church family and friends who would surprise us with a bag full of food or some money.

    This is when I learned all about a price book and shopping the sales and stocking up. I also learned about shopping in season. Before that, I just paid the higher price rather than wait for grapes to be in season again, etc.

    These are some great tips and I'll bet you've both helped lots of people today with them.

    Thanks for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday!

  3. @Ann, yes, she is an inspiration, I agree! And I am thankful for Aldi here, too :)

    @momstheword, you have quite a testimony, too. I think it's amazing how God uses those seemingly difficult moments to teach us some very valuable - and necessary - lessons.

  4. Wow! I needed to hear this today. I have been wondering how to build up our pantry items while still being able to eat now. We live on a very tight budget already. You gave me some really great ideas. Thank you!!!

    visiting from Moms the Word...

    Building Home with Him,

    Mary Joy

  5. Wonderful article! Thanks for the tips!

  6. Jaime, what a great post. I'm always looking for ways to save and be frugal. Thanks for sharing such valuable information.

    I'll pass by the Prudent Homemaker. I'd love to meet her.

    God bless you!!!

    Thanks for linking up to Domestically Divine.

  7. Where can I find the recipes/menu you used to feed your family so frugally? I am working on it, but I haven't gotten to the place you have yet!

  8. Lisa,
    There are 4 months of menus on my site (one for each season) as well as 2 weeks' worth of pantry-only meals. Click on Menus and Recipes in the side bar, and you'll see the seasonal menus and the pantry-only menu, as well as recipes under each category: Breakfast, Breads, Soups, Salads, Side Dishes, Poultry, Meatless Dishes, Desserts, etc.

    Mary Joy,

    I'm glad you found something to help your family! We've been underempolyed for the last 4 years, but my pantry is fuller than ever--which is a great blessing to us, especially now as I don't know how many months we'll need to go without shopping this year.

  9. I love Brandy's site. Especially the garden pictures!

    Great post, Thank you!

  10. Ah, I like Brandy and her site. I "met" her this month after she left an encouraging comment on my post about our $35 a/wk budget experiment. My first update on our experiment is here http://www.halloffamemoms.com/2011/01/update-on-my-35-budget-after-week-1/

    I found you at Raising Homemakers, btw!

  11. Great tips - especially the information that the sales recirculate about every 12 weeks. I could never remember how they cycle, so I'm going to write it down this time.

    If anyone needs some bean recipes, I recently hosted a Bean Recipe Exchange on my blog and it's still open for those who wish to add a link of their own.


  12. Excellent post! Those are some nice glass jars in the photo, they are hard to come by as so many products come in plastic now.


  13. Sense of Home--the three big jars are giant canning jars that someone gave to me. They are way too tall to fit in my canner; I iamgine they were used for fermented items, like pickles. They are older jars.

    However, Michael's is now selling giant canning jars just like them.

    The other jar is a pickle jar. You'll need to wash pickle jars several times. Walmart sells really tall pickle jars in their bulk section, and they're under $5 (plus you get a LOT of pickles!) That's an even less expesive way to get really large jars.

    I actually keep most of my beans in 6 gallon food-grade buckets; you can see pictures of them in my pantry.

  14. Brandy, more great ideas from you! :-) Brandy also did an interview here:


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