8 December 2007

Stockpiling groceries 101 - part 1

It seems the price of food and fuel is creeping up every week. Now that many are buying Christmas food and gifts as well, it's a good time to remind you about stockpiling. If you already have a healthy stockpile, and I know many of you do, you could easily stop buying groceries over the Christmas period, live from your stockpile and use your grocery money to buy the special foods you like at Christmas. That's one of the advantages of stockpiling, it helps you through periods when money is a bit tight.

The other advantages are:
  • you'll save all that time you spend grocery shopping. When your stockpile is fully operational, you'll only need to top it up and buy the fresh foods like milk, meat, fruit and vegetables.
  • you'll save money because much of what is in your stockpile cupboard will be bought on sale.
  • if there's an unusual family situation - you are sick, your partner is out of work, your children need much more of your time for school projects, sports etc, you'll know you can still feed everyone with what's already in your home, sitting in the stockpile cupboard.
  • if there is a national emergency - floods, cyclones, terrorist attack, bush fires, you won't need to go out as you'll have all your provisions safely stored at home.
The main idea behind stockpiling is that you work out what it is you usually eat and use in your home, everything that can be stored safely in a cupboard or freezer, and over time, buy those things when they're on sale and store them in a special cupboard. It will be your own private supermarket, open 24/7, with all items on special.

Your first step is to work out what you need to store. The easy things to think of are soap, toilet paper, tissues, toothpaste, toothbrushes, cleaning products - or if you make your own, the makings for them, like bicarb, cheap white vinegar, borax, washing soda and laundry soap. If you don't make your own green cleaners, look here for my recipes. They will save many dollars or pounds off your grocery bill, they're much healthier for you, your family and the planet, and they store well.

Then work out your food list. The key to a successful stockpile is to include only what you know you'll eat and will use. There is absolutely no use in buying a great bargain, then stockpiling it, if you don't eat it. If you bake your own bread, include bread flour, seeds and yeast; if you bake your own cakes and biscuits, include things like sultanas, dates, brown sugar, cocoa, choc chips, nuts etc. But also make room for baked beans, tinned salmon and tuna, honey, milk powder, olive oil, malt vinegar, wine vinegar, seasonings, dried pasta, sugar, peanut butter, and for all us Australians, Vegemite.

This is my pantry. You'll notice there are few packages of food, it's all open and stored in jars. All this food is what we are currently eating.
This is my stockpile cupboard. All these things are unopened and waiting to be used sometime in the future. Read about the difference between these two cupboards below.

When you know what you need to buy, work out where you will store your food. If you're like me, you'll have a few different spaces. And let's talk here about the difference between a pantry and a stockpile cupboard. The pantry is where you keep everything you are currently using - the things that are open and being used every day. The stockpile cupboard contains unopened items that are being stored for future use. When you take something from the stockpile cupboard and open it, it is then stored in the pantry - preferably in a glass jar. So I store food being used now in the pantry; food stored for future use - tea, coffee, sugar, tinned fruit, honey, milk powder, peanut butter, jam etc., in the stockpile cupboard; spices and seasonings in a small cupboard in the kitchen; sauces used for cooking in a cupboard over the stove; dried goods in a large chest freezer in the second bathroom (I'll explain this soon); toiletries in the bathroom, cleaning products in the laundry and butter, frozen homegrown vegetables, dog meat and made up dog food in the fridge freezer. As you can see, stockpiling is an organic thing that tends to fit in where ever you have space. Don't be afraid to store your stockpiled goods in the bedroom or garage if you have no room near your kitchen. Your pantry needs to be in the kitchen because you're using those food everyday, the stockpile doesn't.

The sauce pantry - all these are being used.

Generally we don't eat meat - I never eat it and Hanno eats it occasionally. We buy meat when we have our sons over for dinner, or when Hanno craves it. That's maybe four or five times a year, but we also buy dog meat every couple of months and make up our own dog food - meat, rice, lentils or pasta and vegetables. Our dogs have eaten this all their lives, they are now 13 and almost 12 and they're very healthy. The recipe is here. Whatever meat we have is kept in the fridge freezer.

Our chest freezer is energy efficient, costs very little per year to run and is full of dried goods like bread flour, self raising flour, nuts, seeds, pasta, cornflour, lentils, rice and leftover bread. We live in a humid climate and this is the best way we've found to store dried food for a long time. If the power goes off, it doesn't matter as nothing in there will spoil.

When you buy dried goods like those listed above, it's a good idea to put them in your freezer for a few days to kill off any bug larvae that happen to be in there. It's a horrible thought that they are there, but they usually are. If you've ever wondered how weevils or pantry moths can hatch out in a sealed container, it's because the larvae were in the product when you bought it. Freezing will kill them. Yes you will end up eating them, but they won't do you any harm and you won't know anyway. LOL

This post is getting pretty long so I'll carry on in another post. So far we've talked about the advantages of stockpiling, the difference between a stockpile and a pantry, what types of products to stockpile and where to store your products. Next we'll talk about how to get the best value for your money and how to look after your stockpile. I'll be back soon with the conclusion to this stockpiling post.

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