Thursday, October 7, 2010

How a Full Pantry Saves Money

From the Dollar Stretcher.

"With today's unstable economy, having a full pantry is protection against high prices and provisions for tomorrow. My full pantry allows me to avoid unnecessary trips to the supermarket, saving time, money and gas.

It is easy to start stocking a pantry. There are just a few rules that make it simple and even inexpensive.

Rule #1: Buy only what the family will use. Filling a pantry with items that family members may not like or things that may never be used defeats the purpose of building a stockpile of food.

Rule#2: Stock up with sale items. Don't rush out to buy six cans of spaghetti sauce or four boxes of macaroni and cheese. Wait for a sale. Most supermarkets put out a weekly sale ad so watch for favorite products and brands to go on sale. In addition, some markets offer in-store savings on select items so be a savvy shopper and search the shelves for bargains. When the spaghetti sauce is at a low sale price, that is the time to stock up with several to store on the shelf.

Rule #3: Use coupons. Many Sunday newspapers offer coupon inserts and other coupons are in many publications. Online sites like Coupon Cabin, Cool, and Coupon Craze can also provide coupons that match products. Often, manufacturers put out coupon savings at about the same time as their products go on sale at the supermarket, providing a chance for even greater savings. Better yet, find a supermarket that offers double coupons or even triple coupon events to increase the savings!

Rule #4: Prepare the space for your pantry. Whether it is an empty kitchen cabinet, a freestanding shelf, a hutch, or basement shelves, utilize any open space for food storage. My basement came equipped with many shelves and bonus kitchen cabinets, installed by a former owner. Remember that any space used as a pantry should be cool and dry. Most garages and outside storage buildings get too hot or cold to serve as safe storage space for food.

Rule #5: Once you have a pantry established, remember to rotate. Put the newest items in the back and use the first one in line. This is easier to do if you organize the food on the pantry shelves, like item with like item. I keep condiments like ketchup, mustard, and salad dressings together with each item in a row of its own.

Rule #6: Don't buy more than you can ever use. Once into the routine of planning and stocking a pantry, it is easy to get carried away, but don't buy more than can be used within a reasonable amount of time. Keep track of use-by dates on products, plan ahead, and if more than three squeeze bottles of mustard won't be used by that time, don't buy more.

With these simple tips and money saving ideas, anyone can stock a pantry, saving money and limiting trips to the market. A plus is that a well-stocked pantry can save the day during weeks when money is short or the weather limits shopping. The key to a well-fed family on a budget is a well-stocked pantry!"

My first pantry was anywhere I could find space--under the bed, end table drawers, closet shelves, a corner in the bedroom...I even ditched my dining set (while living in a small apartment) to make room for the freezer. To this day, we still don't have that dining set--we no longer eat at the table. This house has a bar counter that divides the kitchen and dining room, and we eat there.

As for Rule #3, I have to take exception--I rarely find coupons for the stuff I use, so I mostly do without them. Coupons and rebates are for buying BRAND NAMES, and I rarely do that. Usually, I find that the item with the coupon has a cheaper item (cost per unit) right next to it--even while adding in the coupon savings. Coupons and rebates are marketing tactics, and using them means you fell for the marketing. Just look at the shelf label (and all those tiny numbers) for the cost per oz., lb. or whatever, find the lowest one, then buy it. I guarantee you'll save money without ever having to clip coupons again!

Coupons are temporary. Cost per unit is forever. Unless you can match up a coupon with an in-store or advertised sale, and happen to have a rebate--all for the same item--don't even waste your time. People who brag about grocery stores paying THEM money are usually using this method--their planets aligned, and they happened to have all three at the same time. They don't understand that they STILL fell for the marketing!

More and more, I find most coupons want you to buy a cleaning product, and I make my own cleaning products out of bleach/water, rubbing alcohol/water, or vinegar/water--infinitely cheaper than some spray-on, wipe-off junk. The rest of the coupons are for junk food: pizzas, Chinese food, chicken, sandwiches, or worse--frozen entrees. Again, I make my own.

Having a full pantry by buying TODAY at the lowest price possible means you're guarding yourself against future inflation, product size shrinkage, price increases, and future trips to the store.


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