Every time you get something from your own pantry, you know you saved yourself a trip to the store. It can save you money in other ways, by reducing items you use and if you're buying in bulk. It will provide you with security when times get rough, we all have some kind of insurance and a pantry will keep you going even if you loose income or have unexpected expenses in any way.
Building up a proper pantry is a long time job, you have to learn what you eat and how you use it. No plan is going to change the habit you have as a family so it has to take time and we all adapt in different ways when we make changes. I stocked up on things we usually have at home, but we learn as we go, some items go first and that's telling me what I need to focus on stocking up. When you get to have it all at home some habits will change and that's just how it is.
what should i buy?
It takes some planning before you can go out and start buying multiple items. If you do your planning first, you're more likely to buy the right things and you'll also know how much is enough of every item. Don't buy things you never use, you might adapt and change when you start eating from your pantry, but it's better to stick to the plan you've made from the beginning and make changes as you go.
Start by writing down every item you have at home. If there's something missing that you normally have at home, add that to your list. If there's something you rarely use, you can put that in a different category and buy less of that.
Then write down everything you know that you're eating. Meals you make and everyone's favourites, you do the same with everything that you eat including sweets and candy. When you've got it all on paper you can start putting items in diffent categories. Like dry goods, meat, sweets, vegetables, canned goods, charkuteries and dairy products.
Now you need to figure out how much you use of every item for a full year.
I can give you an example. We have ground meat at least once every week, we use 1 ibs when we're making a meal. With 52 weeks in a year I need 52 ibs of ground meat. If we have soup every other week, that means I need to can 26 jars of soup to get through a year.
Even if your plan isn't to build up a storage for a full year, it will benefit you to make calculations for a full year. If you only want three months storage you divide everything by four. The reason to calculate for a full year is so that you'll know what is reasonable to buy if you ever come across a discount for any item and you have the possibility to buy enough to last you longer than the three months you already planned for. It's easier to estimate how much you need by calculating how much you eat every week. Many of the groceries we can buy can also make it up to a year in storage, that includes things you freeze down as well.
Some items are harder to estimate than others. If you bake a lot it might be harder to know for sure how much flour you need. You can either estimate how much to buy or you can buy a smaller amount and see how long it lasts. I estimated that I use up to 120 ibs (60 kilogram) during a year when I make all the bread that we eat. I bought 40 ibs of spelt flour and 12 ibs of regular white flour since I don't do everything with spelt flour. So far it has lasted us nearly five months and there's still enough to last us another month. My plan was to give it 6 months to see if I got it right since I can order spelt flour in bulk from an online grocery store. I'll continue to order flour from them as we stock up on more and more items for a full years supply.
find the right price
This is where you'll get more control over how you spend your money. You might find the same item in different stores, but it's likely that the price will be different. We have a few chains of grocery stores available in the nearest bigger town, I started by comparing prices between them and I also included prices on things I can order online.
Most of the chains we have here also have an online shop so I can write down and compare prices for every item I need to purchase. It might take some time, but it will be worth it if you can save money by finding the best prices. There's always some exeptions.
It might be tempting to buy the cheapest of everything you can find, but sometimes it's better to buy a more pricy item because of the quality. If you come across different brands that you never used before, buy one and try it before you stock up on that item. I usually buy one of every brand if I suspect there might be a difference. Some big chains have their own brands and it's more likely that you need to try it out before you know for sure that it's worth buying.
Whenever there's a sale, stock up on the things you eat. At our local store they sell food that are about to expire at reduced prices. If there's less than a day left, you get it for half the price. I often buy items with the special red labels and then I freeze it when I get home. Some things like ground meat I fry before I freeze it so that it doesn't go bad while thawing since that has happened to us before.
I came across chocolate bars the other day, they were really cheep and I know that both my kids and my hubby eats them. I got 10 of them that day and then another 10 two days later. I've also found cans of tomatoes and other items that the store was about to replace so they sold them out for half the price even if it wasn't about to expire or anything. My best advice is, don't buy one. Buy as many as you can when you find things you use on a discount.
HOw to store and for how long
I find it difficult to know how long things actually are good to store. Many of the items we can buy aren't produced to store for a very long time so it's up to us to find the best way to store the things we do buy. Some is better canned, some frozen and some dried. I also learned that storebought jam doesn't store as good as the jam I make myself. The storebought blueberry jam I used to buy get mold in matter of weeks from opening the jar, but the one I canned myself has never had any mold at all.
Cans are something completely different, if you get canned tomatoes or canned meat it will be good to store for years if the cans doesn't start to swell up or get damaged in any way.
I did however discover that many of the dry goods I buy have quite a long shelf life so I think storing anything for up to a year isn't an issue. Some dry goods are just better to store, like white rice and whole grains. Salt and sugar store indefinently if they're kept from getting damp in any way. The flour I buy have a years shelf life, but the flour you grind yourself is better to store less than 6 months.
I always replace the packets and bags the dry goods come in, I reuse glass bottles and use food grade buckets and bins. I have a bin for my flour that holds my 20 kilogram of spelt flour and a smaller bucket that holds the 6 kilograms of regular white flour. I also have a bucket for white rice and another for rolled oats. I feel more comfortable knowing that everything is stored in air tight containers. I also put smaller packages in one bigger jar, great for baking powder and cocoa. We have a old bench with drawer in our kitchen and we store a lot of the dry goods we use there. I fit more of the smaller jars in the drawers and keep bigger bins in the pantry beneath the stairs. Many of the buckets I got for free from the small hotel we have in our village.
And now for the prepper part of this chapter.
You need to store water. The recommendations for water is half a gallon to a gallon per person per day. I also bought bottles of water from the store, it's better for storage than the cans you can fill up at home. I also have two different sizes of water cans, two larger that holds ten gallons and smaller that holds half a gallon. I refill the water in the smaller cans as often as I can remember to do it, that water is good for making coffee even if it's been stored for a couple of weeks. The bigger cans are harder to refill so I save them for washing up and flushing the toilet.
I also keep a big can of dried milk in my food cellar, it's good to have in case we can't get fresh milk. I also use dried milk when I make yoghurt so I'll use it up as soon as I bought a new can to put in the food cellar.
Water is so essential that I think everyone should have a small supply. We've had issues with the water, it's been far to many occasions when we all of a sudden didn't get any tapwater.
In case of power loss, that also happens way to often to us, I filled up plastic bottles and froze them so that I can use them to keep the fridge cold. They work so much better in a cooler than the small ice packs you can buy.
And. DONT FORGET TOILETPAPER. That's just a disaster even if you haven't lost any power.