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My family is always looking for ways to save money and one of the easiest ways is by stocking up on supplies. You may not realize it, but buying in bulk and using coupons can really increase your savings when you’re shopping at the grocery store.
Costco and Sam’s are my friends. I don’t use coupons as much because of time constraints. But I have been known to buy several Sunday papers to get coupon inserts!
The following tips will help you stock a pantry without breaking the bank.
While it is wonderful to open up your cupboard doors and look at a full stock of food, it can be a challenge to actually get to that point. Knowing the tips and tricks to make the most of your local grocery store trips can help you get your pantry staples on a budget.
If there is one thing that history has taught us over and over again, it is the simple fact that it is important to have food on hand for tough times. Those panic shoppers who clear out the store shelves and disrupt the food chain supply when a pandemic hits make it challenging for all of us.
I am not saying you need to be a Doomsday Prepper, but having a full pantry is an incredibly simple way to guarantee food security as well as help your financial situation. After all, if you can save money in one area of your life, you can use it to pay off another area, whether it be clearing debt or investing for your future.
First things first: Know your likes and dislikes
Stocking up on 20 cans of white chicken chili because you found them on sale for practically pennies a can is no bargain if you hate the texture of beans.
You want to fill your pantry with things you and your family would actually eat, so you need to be brutally honest with yourself about what you really like and don’t like. I have made this mistake before. Not good…
If it helps, make a list. Those will be the things you work on stocking up on. Even if it is only twenty items long, that will be twenty more things that you have a surplus of than you did before.
Work your store selling cycle
Everything in your local grocery store has a selling cycle. That means there is a high price and a rock bottom price over a period of time. The trick is to purchase those items you want at that low price, and if you can add a coupon to it, even better!
It can be tricky to figure out your specific store’s cycle. If you save the weekly sales ads for about two months, though, you will clearly see their pattern.
Certain staples like pasta and cereal go on sale every six to eight weeks. If you watch for that lowest price before you add that item to your list, you will rock the deals. Keep a record of the lowest prices so you know when it’s time to stock up.
It is amazing how buying ten boxes of pasta for a buck each saves you almost ten dollars if you eat a pasta meal every week and it is normally two dollars a box.
Now think of every other pantry staple from canned vegetables to macaroni and cheese. You can just see how simply working your store’s selling cycle can pay off for your budget in a large way.
This should be your go-to trick from pasta, grains, ready-to-eat cereal, crackers, cookies, and more.
Check the clearance aisle
Scratch ‘n Dent isn’t what it used to be. You can often find items that have been pulled off the shelves for a simple thing like the company changing their packaging. Maybe they did a store reset and have chosen to discontinue that item.
Occasionally, things might be getting close to their expiration date. If it is something like dried beans or rice, keep in mind that they found pasta and rice in the Egyptian pyramids that remained safe to eat in the current times. If stored properly, it can keep past that suggested date.
Some things like rice, sugar, salt, and honey are practically invincible if stored correctly.
I love the site Still Tasty – www.stilltasty.com — for a good guideline of how safe something is if it is past its date.
It is a little different to do this than it was just five years ago, as almost everything has gone digital. Start with getting your store loyalty card. Some advertised specials are strictly for store card carriers.
Check their website to see if they have digital coupons that are tied to your store card. You can reap the rewards of these additional discounts without even getting out your scissors.
That being said, there are still paper coupons out there. Some are printed in your store’s ad circular and some are in your weekly free neighborhood papers that most people just throw out.
If you can stack a printed coupon with a digital coupon? What a way to save!
Jump at National Canned Food Month
February is National Canned Food Month and offers a ton of incredible sales specials in addition to extra coupons out there. If you are looking to bulk up your pantry on the cheap, February is the perfect time for those canned meat, beans, vegetables, vegetable juices, fruit, fruit juices, even canned milk!
If you missed canned food month? No worries, things like tuna and canned pasta meals are in that normal store selling cycle that we already mentioned.
If it isn’t February, look at buying dried beans and lentils instead of canned. The price is a lot better, and they will last longer. Once you cook them, they can be frozen for longer storage.
Buy in bulk
The price of pre-portioned convenience really adds up when you look at the cost per ounce on an item. Let’s pick Doritos. You can buy a full bag, on sale for $2.50, or buy three to four bags at $0.75 a piece when you get the single serving packs. If you take that large bag and break it down into smaller bags, you will easily have six to eight bags of snacks instead of just three to four.
I am not saying you have to get the jumbo cans of baked beans, but all of those pudding cups, fruit cups, and 4-count cookie packs really charge you for that work of breaking them down.
Learn to can
If you get free produce or garden, canning your own vegetables will only take your time. You can save money on the cost of supplies that you need when getting started by looking at your local thrift stores or Facebook groups. Have no fear if you are new to the concept: you can learn literally anything on YouTube these days.
As a child, my father had a HUGE garden across the street from our home for one year. He grew all kinds of beans, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, and more. My mother and I spend hours and hours canning, drying, and freezing the food that came out of that garden. The bounty lasted for more than a year. And that was without YouTube for directions!
It really isn’t that hard to fill a pantry on a budget, and more importantly, maintain it, once you have the tips and tricks down so you can do it.
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