Late summer and fall harvests are still to come, so there are still lots of chances to get good produce at the best prices and the best flavor. I get local food at the fruit and vegetable stands, plus flea markets and roadside vendors. I didn’t get into canning this year due to being pulled out of town several times, and it’s about to happen again, but I’m sure I’ll do some freezing before the season is over.
Then it is time to gear up for stockpiling at sale prices again. I learned a lot this year. There were several things I did well at, and several where I fell short. Good to learn for real instead of guessing. Here’s what I didn’t get enough of this year:
- Toilet paper
- Socks – like I said before, I think my youngster’s feet are made of teeth…
- Artificial sweetener/sugar substitute
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Convenience foods (granola bars, single-serve frozen stuff)
- Ketchup, mustard, tartar sauce, pickles, sandwich spreads
I can think of why I fell short on several of those, and it was mostly due to plans gone wrong. For the past few years I haven’t bought much convenience food because I’m home and I prefer to cook meals and I make most things from scratch, which I find to be cheaper and healthier, so I hadn’t bought many things that were grab-and-go. However, due to the nature of the challenges we had this year, I was out of the house a lot and those left behind had to fend for themselves. They would have rather had single-serve meals and snacks available for them at home, instead of eating out and at drive-thrus as much as they did while I was gone. That was kind of why we ran out of peanut butter and jelly and other sandwich stuff too – I usually kept some on hand, but not much since I fixed most meals under normal circumstances, but that didn’t work out this year. Same with the condiments, sweeteners, those were used a lot more with take-out food and I normally don’t keep much on hand.
Socks, tissues, and toilet paper – well, you just can’t have too much, so I’ll just keep buying them.
Here’s where I had way too much, although since we have good storage and these don’t spoil, it’s not “too much”, but it was more than we planned on using in a year:
- Deodorant, body wash, shampoo
- Salad dressing
- Canned goods
- Laundry detergents and laundry products
- Baking items – baking soda (which actually can be used for cleaning, deodorizing, first aid, other uses), corn starch, salt
It doesn’t bother me at all that we had extras of these. These are the sorts of things that you can get for pennies or free, so if they keep for a year or more, keep stocking them. Also, these things were PERFECT for giving away when someone was in need – I could easily put together a few full grocery bags of these things and give them away when the chance arose. Just because I overbought for my particular family’s needs, other people were often under-stocked on these things and it made good care packages. So again, I keep buying them, if I’m getting them for free or pennies. In the case of the pasta and rice, often the sales were so good that I was making money on the purchases – coming out ahead of the coupon amount – and the overage applied to other items I was buying to reduce my overall grocery cost.
Again, I have to go out of town for several days for a relative who lives several hundred miles away, so I’m going to miss about a week of planning. In the meantime, I have these steps to consider and can make these suggestions:
- Start with an inventory of what you DO have.
- If you haven’t done this already, save your receipts from what you purchase so that you will know where you are spending the most money and what items you buy most often. You might be surprised. I know I was.
- Keep track of the “budget busters” … things that cost more than what you will usually spend in a regular shopping trip but that you don’t get all the time. Such as, clothes for the kids, makeup or special beauty products, yard work products. Once you know this, you can plan for these expenses and not be as caught off-guard and not have to spend full price.
- Develop clean and orderly storage.
I have several how-to entries, and also would be willing to talk to any of you one-on-one, if you have any further questions. This entry is just an overview, with my examples, so we can all get started and get ready!