A Deep Pantry /Food Storage on a Tight Budget.

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You will not be able to depend on the government for help when things go south. The only one you can depend on is yourself

Before I start I want to share a little about myself and one of the reasons why I advocate a deep pantry so strongly.

There have been two times in my life where I wasn’t sure where the next meal was coming from. One of those times I had two small children and my Husband had lost his job and was having a very hard time finding another. (There is a lot more to it but for the short simple version). Anyways money was super tight and there were a few times I didn’t know if I was even going to have food for dinner. Well we got through that but money was still pretty tight and I swore I would never be in a position where I had to wonder if I could feed my kids.

As I said even after he went to work money was still tight, but I started cooking everything from scratch, sewing mine and my daughter’s clothes (even underwear), stretching every penny I could so I could put some food back for hard times. I would buy hamburger on sale (back then I could get it for 99 cents a pound) I would get close to 4 meals from 1 pound of hamburger.

I have learned a lot since then about saving money, having a deep pantry and doing as much as I can myself and for next to nothing.

Okay you are seeing where things are going in the world and you know you need to get food put back for if things get real ugly, or a natural disaster happens (you never know what or when). But you barely have enough money to get by month to month.

Starting a deep Pantry/ Food storage when money is super tight can be a little daunting to say the least. First off, don’t get discouraged. When you see where someone is, who has been working on a deep pantry/ food storage for years, believe me they started with nothing and had to work at it to get where they are. It takes lots of little baby steps. It also takes determination and the willingness to make a few sacrifices. Remember this will not happen overnight it takes time. But it can be done. Here are some ideas to help.

Just a note I reference City Market (Kroger) most of the time. It is the grocery store in my area that I mostly use. I know a lot of you don’t have one where you are so just look for the store in your area that is cheapest, I have heard that Aldi is great so just go with what you have.

1. Figure out a budget, and keep track of every penny you spend. This will help you see where you spend and where you can cut.

2. You can go here for 201 ways to save money, some that maybe you hadn’t thought of.( I have done and still do most every one of these). Every penny, every dime, you save is a little more you can put towards your deep pantry/ food storage.

3. Learn to cook from scratch. I cannot stress enough how important this is, you save a ton of money, it’s way more healthy, and it cuts down what you need in your food storage. (You don’t need boxed dinners, mixes, ect. You can make your own). If you work try and do the majority of your cooking on the weekend. If you do this you can just pull something from the freezer and not be so tempted to pick up something on the way home. Make a menu and try to follow it.

4. Learn skills. If you can sew just a little you can mend or make some of your clothes (esp. children’s clothes). Make your own soap ect. The more skills you have the less money you need to spend on these things, the more money for your deep pantry/ storage. If there is something you want to learn to do, ask around generally there is someone out there that would love to teach you. If not u tube has a ton of how to videos.

5. Do not cater to picky eaters. I have a rule in my house I cook for my Husband if the kids do not like it they go hungry, or learn to eat it. (I know harsh) It doesn’t really take that long for them to come around to eating what I am cooking. Like they say picky eaters are made not born. In my daycare I can tell which kids have to eat what is given to them at home and the ones that look at something and say they don’t like it and don’t have to eat it. The ones that have to eat what is given them will eat whatever I give them. The ones that don’t are very hard to feed. Having to learn to eat these foods during a crisis situation is going to be a whole lot harder on them then learning to eat them now.

6. Grow as much as you can. If space is tight there are a lot of ideas on the internet for small space gardening. If water is an issue use drip systems, container gardening, collect your rain water, use water that you save in the house from waiting on hot water, there are lots of ways to save water so you have water for your garden. (I will be doing a post soon on water, water storage and saving on water.)

7. Buy on sale and in season. When something comes on sale buy as much as you possible can. Even if it isn’t on your list for that week put whatever was on the list in the place of what you just bought (say soup is on sale this week but the list says flour, buy the soup and when soup is on the list buy flour). Buy in season it general is much cheaper when in season. Don’t forget after holiday and end of season sales.

8. Yard sales, auctions and second hand stores, always be on the lookout for things you need. Just be careful not to over pay and don’t get things you really don’t need. Have a list with you of things you are looking for.

9. Think outside the box. You just found a whole stack of sheets at the second hand store for next to nothing. Do you look at them and think well I have enough sheets, these are the wrong size. Or do you think what I could use these for. Make curtains, dresses for your  daughter, shirts for your son, cut in do dish rags, backing for a quilt, cut into cloth paper towels, so many things you can do with that stack of sheets if you are always thinking outside the box.

10. Barter, If someone has an excess of fruit or vegetables or anything that you can use for that matter, try to trade them for something you have or trade for work.

11. Know your prices.  I made a list of all the things that I buy (We have 3 stores in our town one is Safeway which for what buy is way too expensive and they always seem to have a limit on the sales. That leaves City Market and Wal-mart.)Then I went to Wal-mart with my list and wrote down the price of everything I buy. I now had a base for prices, when something came on sale at city Market I could compare prices. If the sale was cheaper I would go and buy as much as I could afford. City Market (Krogrer) is real good at ordering cases if you want a couple cases of something. Be sure to check your unit price also sometimes the larger container isn’t always the cheaper.

12. On my Food Storage Challenge I have two Items, the first is the most important, it is for two people so if you have four people in your house you will need to double that. This will get you your basic basics so if money is real tight this is what to get. The second is extras that would be nice to have so if you have a little extra money try to get some of these. I also have skills to learn every month and things to get or make if you can.

13. When storing water you do not need to go and buy all bottled water. Use containers you have around the house, ask friends and family for their soda bottles, Gatorade bottles, juice bottles, even bleach bottles,(when I was  a kid and my Dad always had a bleach bottle filled with drinking water.)  Fill them with tap water. You can use laundry soap bottles for non-potable (non drinking water) to use for washing dishes, flushing etc. water. I don’t recommend milk jugs but if they are all you have then use them just be sure to wash them very well and  watch them for leaking.

14. Put away as much extra money as you can even if it is only a couple dollars at a time (it all adds up). This has two purposes, one you are building a little nest egg, and second you have a few extra dollars if something comes on sale you may be able to get a little more.

15. Can, freeze, and dehydrate as much as you can. If you don’t have a dehydrator look on the internet for ways to make your own, or do it the old fashion way in the sun. If your oven goes low enough you can dehydrate in it. This way when things are in season and on sale you can put some back.

16. Buy and use store brands, most store brands are as good as name brand (a couple are better). They are a lot cheaper, I know city market runs their store brands on sale pretty often.(I know that there are a couple store brands that are nasty and name brand is way better, just use your own judgment)

17. You can also use coupons I know a few people that save a ton with them. I don’t have the time that you need to use them effectively, so I don’t use them much. But if I do see one for something that I use I will use it.

Food storage when money is tight is a struggle I know. But if you are determined you can do it. Even if it is picking up a pound of beans here and a bag of rice there.  Something is better than nothing.

If you have any other ideas please feel free to share. Also if you would like personal help I would be more then glad to help, or answer any questions you might have. Just e-mail me at frugallivingontheranch@yahoo.com

17 Replies to “A Deep Pantry /Food Storage on a Tight Budget.”

  1. Rose

    I have my own homemade “Hamburger Helper” mix that I use to make quick meals. Also, I have meals in jars made with freeze dried food that are quick and easy to make. I also used to make a lot of “mixes” when the kids were at home that were easy to whip up- bisquick, cake mixes, etc. I still make all my own taco seasoning, dressing mixes etc. They are cheaper and SO much better (and without additives and fillers) than store bought.

    1. watkinsranches@yahoo.com Post author

      It is so nice to have mixes already mixed and ready to go. And as you said so much cheaper and better for you.
      Have a great day,

  2. Teri S

    I, too, cook from scratch. I make my own mixes and use powdered milk daily. When our kids were growing up, I made one meal, and it was a rule to eat what was cooked. Sometimes that meant just eating one thing but our kids grew up eating almost everything especially eating veggies and fruit. We have used our pantry/food storage for everyday meals. It gets rotated and then replace when low and on sale. Gradually adding, like you suggest, is the way to get a “deep pantry”. Thank you for all your posts! I’m always learning. I wish I would have known the “secret” about sheets when our kids were young. I made most of their clothes and fabric was expensive then(as it is now). Great way to make curtains also! We also can, dehyrate our own food (year around since I bottle broth, beans, soups, etc. in winter). I just cooked turkey bones from the holidays this week and canned 17 quarts of broth. This is so good and so convenient. I do this with chicken bones, beef, ham and pork bones also. I know what it’s like to not be able to grocery shop and just use what’s in the pantry. So may good lessons and skills I have learned. Thank you, again, for all you do! Teri S

    1. watkinsranches@yahoo.com Post author

      Thank you, I to can all year around seems like my canners permanent home is on the stove lol.I love being able to make most of our food this way I know what is in it.
      Have a great day,

  3. Vicky in Ky

    Very good information. It’s amazing to me how many things can be made from just a few basic ingredients…flour, sugar, milk, eggs etc. within the last 2-3 years I have become a canning fanatic. By last fall I had a wonderful deep pantry full of home canned stuff. It’s been a big help thru the winter months keeping grocery costs down for the last few months. Thanks for sharing.

    1. watkinsranches@yahoo.com Post author

      Thank you, It is surprising how many things can be made from a handful of basic ingredients. It is such a great feeling to look in your pantry and see all the jars of home canned foods. It really does help keep grocery cost down to buy in season and can or freeze and it taste so much better.
      Have a great day.

  4. Pingback: Week 18 Deep Pantry/ Food Storage Challenge | Frugal Living on the Ranch

  5. Elizabeth Brico

    These are good tips. We’ve had to rely on food banks/Food Not Bombs more than once and likely will again. With both my husband and I struggling with PTSD, money can be an issue…often. I already cook from scratch and don’t cater to my daughter’s super picky diet beyond trying to include stuff she’ll eat. But I don’t make things that are special for her if she won’t eat, for example. I’ll have to try to incorporate some more of these, for sure. We use Kroger too, but ours is QFC!

    1. watkinsranches@yahoo.com Post author

      I have had to use the food bank a few times and they are a God send. I am so sorry about you and your Husband suffering from PTSD I know that it can be extremely difficult. Hope all goes well. I haven’t heard of QFC, It still surprises me how many different store that Kroger has.
      Have a great day

  6. Pingback: Week 19 Deep Pantry/Food Storage Challenge | Frugal Living on the Ranch

  7. Carol L

    Hi all, and THANK YOU so much for all of this wonderful information in this series on a deep pantry.
    This might be a bit off topic, and, as I am new to this blog, forgive if it has been asked and answered: I just met a lovely woman who is trying to become self sufficient, and begin storing foods and items in case of a SHTF scenario. BUT her husband is NOT on board, and has made her begin to sell off things for a move. How do you prep when a spouse is NOT helpful, and actually AGAINST it all? I’d love to hear from others who have had the same problem and could give insights into how to get them on board with it.
    Thanks again for this great blog!!!

  8. At Rivercrest Cottage

    Enjoyed your post and pinned it. You make it sound so practical and easy to do. I like the idea of a little here and there. In 1969, I was in Hurricane Camille in Mississippi. It wiped the town out. On the Air Force Base, we had no electricity or clean water for 2 weeks so they brought in big tanks of water and poured jugs of bleach in it for us to drink. I thought your idea to use bleach jugs was a great idea when I thought back to how they purified our water back then! Will be following.

    1. watkinsranches@yahoo.com Post author

      Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the ideas. Like I say every little bit helps and adds up. lol.
      Have a great day,

  9. Mary Hill

    Thank you for sharing your resources and thoughts on building a deep pantry;. Also thanks for your support with the #LMMLinkup each week.

  10. Jann Olson

    I have never been in that position. I can only imagine how terrible it would be. I have always believed in and saved for food storage. Thanks for sharing with SYC.