Who doesn’t want to be rich? But as President Bill Clinton coined it, “It” depends on what “IT” really is. What is your idea of rich? Having an endless supply of money? That’s not at all what I consider wealth. The dollar is worth less and less all the time. I feel sorry for those filthy rich suckers we see in the news every day. Because, especially rich celebrities seem to me to be very unhappy and their lives are disasters. We watch their pitiful lives play out on camera for the world to see. Full disclosure, I do NOT watch “reality” tv. I can’t stand it!
My sense of wealth is with the people I love and those who love me. That may sound cliché, but it’s so true. I may not be sitting on piles of currency, but I am rich with love. There is another way I measure my wealth in another, more tangible way. The tangible riches I have will never, ever lose their value and I am betting their value will grow exponentially in the years to come. Can you guess what I am referring to? Food! Lot’s of food. Long-lasting, shelf-stable foods that will keep for years. If I preserve my garden correctly, it will give my family healthy produce for several years. And the freeze-dried foods I buy last up to 25 and 30 years! Food that is chalked full of its’ original vitamins and minerals and tastes great. Because why stock your pantry with loads of food that tastes gross and your family won’t want to eat?
Don’t get me wrong. I prepare for long-term needs. That’s why I buy beans, wheat berries, rice and package them into sealed mylar bags with oxygen absorbers inside sealed in 5 gallon food grade buckets. If something goes terribly bad in society or even within my family, these foods will offer the necessary calories, protein for me and my family. And they serve as extenders to make other foods go further. You can’t be even a novice or passive prepper without these basics.
Since I began to use my shelf-stable food supplies and introducing them into my daily cooking, I noticed that the amount of time and cost of going to the grocery store have both plummeted. I’m talking about significant drops in both. I have barely stepped into my regular neighborhood grocery store for months. There was one recent exception. When I learned to make my coffee creamer, I went in to stock up on sweetened milk and sweet potato to dehydrate for chips for my little man. But other than that, I haven’t been going. And when I did, I deliberately did not take a large cart and went down only the two isles where my food was. I was wearing my “invisible” blinders and got out of the store with only what I went in for. But preparing myself was like an athlete phsycing themselves up for a major sporting event! I told myself I would not buy any more than I planned for. By being acutely aware of my goal is to cut my family’s food cost, and knowing that grocery stores and food companies lure you into buying things that you don’t want, I chalked my trip up to being a success.
How often do you go to the store in a month? Of course, you have your weekly or bi-weekly major shopping trips. But then you run out of milk, bread or other perishable item and you stop by to grab those 1 or 2 items. But ask yourself, do you really only buy what you went in for, or were you unconsciously lured into throwing more items into your cart? And with the price of gas already high and only expected to become even more expensive, that becomes an expense that you can’t ignore when tracking your food costs.
As I researched statistical facts to support my hypothesis, I found numbers that even stunned me. I learned that a full 25% of your food costs are from impulse buys. And not even necessarily for food items, even though you buy them during a grocery trip. A new scented bubble bath, a new shade of lipstick, some cheap gadget to cover your childs juice box or one of those silly onion “keeper” containers. Coupons can actually be a stumbling block to people like me, too. Researchers found that people who use coupons casually, not those diligent extreme couponers, will see a coupon for something they never actually rotate into their normal menus and only because they have a coupon for it, they will buy the product. Who would have known it was possible to be an impulsive couponer? But be wise. Don’t keep coupons for items you don’t normally buy. Keep only coupons and buy sale items for products and food that you normally use in your home.Here are some things to think about:
- The most expensive food is that which you throw out;
- Impulse or spontaneous purchases account for 25% of your grocery bill;
- Coupons are only cost-effective if you use them for items you already buy and not buy to accommodate what coupons you have;
- If you run out of food, you tend to buy take-out or drive-thru meals costing 2 to 10 times more than meals you cook at home;
- Over 85% of every item in a typical grocery store is processed foods containing artificial colors, flavors and stabilizers.
If you can gain control in these areas, your food costs will drastically decrease and you will be able to divert your grocery allocations into building your long-term food storage which are amazingly easy to blend into you everyday recipes. I will be posting many recipes I make using mostly food-storage.
And to prove my point about how properly prepared foods save you money, this article from the Wall Street Journal shows that American’s lose from $500 to $2000 each year due to food spoilage. Did you know that freeze-dried foods retain almost all its’ nutritional values and stores safely for 25 years without ANY additives? And it cuts down on your prep time because you no longer have to chop vegetables and fruits. The food you place on your dinner table is healthy, tasty and so delicious! On average, families sit down at the dinner table for home-cooked meals 2 or 3 times per week. Using freeze-dried and even dehydrated foods makes it faster and easier to for you to have your family at your table every day of the week.I didn’t want to add expenses for my household when I began my food-storage. But until I learned the virtues of using dehydrated and freeze-dried foods like milk, cheese, eggs and even sausage, beef and other meat in my daily cooking, I did just that. It was costing me hundreds more. But thankfully, that trend has completely reserved and I am building my food storage with some of the best (and mostly better) food and the cost is pennies on the dollar! Check out how I make chocolate syrup for my little mans chocolate milk for just pennies! As my shelves are getting full, my food costs are decreasing.
I use to spend about $700 per month just at the grocery store – and even more if you take into account the fast food drive-thru’s and pizza deliveries. It is actually inline with a USDA report for January 2012 for my family allocating a “moderate” amount of income toward food.
I realized just how crazy I was one day at the grocery store. I had worked a hectic week with all the pressures that go along with a full-time job. As was typical at that time, I stopped by the store on my way home on Friday evening so I had enough “easy” food for the weekend. As I was filling my basket with hundreds of dollars in food, toiletries and those cute novelty items, I was on the phone with Pizza Hut ordering dinner IN THE GROCERY ISLE! Talk about distracted. I told you, crazy! At least back then I was.
Thankfully, my grocery costs are now down at least 50%! What’s even more amazing to me is that I don’t throw out spoiled food and my shelves are bursting with food that won’t go bad or spoil. And I’m talking about delicious, every day food that my family loves. Including milk, eggs and cheese. If you think shelf-stable, long-term storage foods are not delicious (maybe like grandma’s pantry), I’m here to tell you that we are eating healthier, tastier food than we ever have before!
And even more importantly, as my garden grows (take a peek to see how it’s doing) and I harvest its’ bounty, food costs will go down even more. Not just as the produce comes in, but for months and years because I planted and will harvest enough food to dehydrate, smoke, freeze, can and pickle! When I began thinking like American’s did in the 19th and 20th centuries about planning for their annual food needs. It makes it easier for me to reach my own goals for food storage.
I spent a little more for heirloom seeds so I can enjoy the same fruits and veggies year after year without investing in the same seeds every season. I looked at what resources I had to grow the most food on a typical suburban lot. The internet and You Tube is brimming with endless examples of container gardening. Just do a little planning and even you apartment dwellers can grow lots of fresh produce. Your local food extension office is a valuable resource to help you get started.
If you haven’t begun to build your own food storage pantry, you really need to start now! The economic benefits of buying and using shelf-stable food can be huge. If you allocate a portion of your existing food budget to shelf-stable foods, you will be rewarded with a pantry full of foods your family will want to eat. Imagine the hardship if someone in your family suffers a job loss becomes seriously illness. Or if a tornado or earthquake destroys your town. What if you don’t get a raise for the next several years, yet food prices and energy costs continue to rise, you will be thankful for a well-stocked pantry. With a well-supplied pantry, you are still able to feed your family well – and you won’t need to wait for FEMA or Red Cross to eat. I hope my experiences motivates you into giving serious consideration to a few things:
- Start a fruit and vegetable garden that includes medicinal and culinary herbs;
- Learn to preserve your gardens’ bounty by canning, dehydrating, drying;
- Avoid impulse purchases at all types of stores;
- Make a shopping list and do not deviate from it, regardless how strong the temptation;
- Allocate 25% of your current food budget toward shelf-stable foods that your family loves and will eat;
- Don’t forget that the most expensive food is food that has spoiled. Buy only the food you can eat before it goes bad;
- Incorporate storage foods into your everyday meals and recipes.
- Meal Planning = Savings on Groceries (urbanmoocher.com)