Bank Your Foods

Strategy One:  Bank Your Foods

A profitable business knows hot to buy commodities at the lowest prices and properly store (sometimes in warehouses) to use as needed through out the timeline of their process. If you’re running a household or raising a family, you’re producing a product, too. Human life.

We can all dream can't we?
We can all dream can’t we?

No business would would keep a week or two’s worth of supplies to produce a product that takes 18 years to grow. It defies all logic. Think ahead, think long term and “bank” enough food on hand in your pantry and freezer to be able to to “shop” sales prices from your own home and the freedom to buy at the lowest prices.

A “bank” of foods keeps you from being at the mercy of the supplier. If you can do this, you will always eat better and for less than you did in the past. You’ll be eating sales priced foods even when the same items cost more at the store. You’ll also have a hedge against rising prices.

When butter jumped from $2.99 on sale in my city to $5.09, I had several month’s worth in my freezer bought at the lower price. When Chicken breast jumped from a 99 cent sales price to $1.99, I enjoyed my cheap chicken for a long time before I had to pay the higher price. Think about these types of savings multiplied across every food item that comes into your home.

There are several ways to “bank” your foods, but the two most important are a well stocked pantry and freezer. Canning is another which can be very profitable, but will only get a mention, here.

You must buy well, properly manage, store & rotate food:

  • To be profitable you must buy at the lowest prices. It makes little sense to buy a lot of a product and store it when you can pick it up for the same price anytime.
  • Properly store and rotate your food and never buy more than you need or allow food to spoil – which could contaminate other food. Give away or donate your food before this happens.
  • Keep your cupboards well organized and refer to the information under “Know and Control Costs.” If you don’t have adequate storage in your kitchen consider converting a nearby closet with shelves.
  • Lack of organization and inability to find what you need wastes your time, is frustrating and may cause you to buy duplicates at non sales prices.
  • Think carefully about easy access and how that affects your time, energy and frustration level. If you have to dig around and shuffle items, cooking becomes difficult. More expensive options (eating out, fast food, take out) begin to look more appealing.
  • Know what the dates on food are – they are not “expiration dates.” Know the difference between a deterioration in quality and food safety issues.
  • Always avoid stockpiling large quantities of things you bought because they were “cheap” or free. Time and energy devoted into extreme shopping, couponing and hoarding is never free!

A freezer is one of the best ways to bank your foods:

  • Invest in a home freezer and fill it with sale priced proteins, vegetables and made ahead meals. It will pay off in no time, maximizing your dollar and your time. Especially when you count the times you’ve had to resort to higher and less healthy options because of time restrictions. 
  • A home freezer can save literally thousands of dollars a year, each and every year, even if you have a small family, and yes, even if you’re single. The amounts depend on your eating habits.
  • The average the cost of running a home freezer is less than buying one Big Mac a month. Around 5 bucks.
  • Shop around very well for a freezer, prices, sizes and cost to run varies.
  • A freezer is an investment that will pay for itself: factor out the cost over a year: I recently noticed a 14 cubic foot freezer for $399. Over a year, this is $33.25 a month. That’s a pizza and tip that might have been avoided if you could pull a meal from the freezer!  
  • Factor in savings. If your family of four eats 6 ounces each of chicken 2x a week, it will total to 156 pounds a year. Chicken breast, at it’s low is $.99 cents a pound, regularly on sale for $1.99 and normally priced at $3.49.  A freezer, set properly will keep chicken at its peak for at least a year. Here are the cost scenarios:  At  the lowest price, you’d pay $154.44, on the normal sale price, $310.44, and at full price you’d pay $544.44. A savings of $390.00 on one item only, the protein for one meal a week. (2013 pricing but the concept remains the same.)
  • Savings are greater if there is a jump in price on the item – when chicken rose across all the pricing points by about a dollar in area, I was still eating 99 cent chicken for nearly a year. What I saved over if I had to buy it was $546, just on chicen, one meal a week.
  • If you have a freezer, though, it’s not unreasonable to assume that you might very well be able to procure an even better pricing by buying in bulk, and those items may be already wrapped and portioned. Think about proteins from butchers and farmers. Even if the pricing is similar the quality may be better.
  • Even if all you buy is frozen dinners, pizzas and ice-cream, you will still save money, and maybe even a greater percentage if you buy on sale with a coupon – junk food ALWAYS has lots of coupons!
  • Be sure you know what’s in your freezer – do a freezer inventory now and then, or if you’re really organized, every month or quarter. While it can be kept on the freezer, consider keeping it where you plan for shopping for easy access.
  • Knowing exactly what you have saves money and time. You’ll know exactly what sales to look for on items running low and won’t be picking up items you are already have well stocked. 
  • You’ll save yourself time looking for things while thinking “I’m sure I have such and such in here.”
  • Avoid loss by rotating, storing properly and wrapping  to protect.

 Banking your foods without a home freezer:

  • If you don’t have a home freezer, and can’t buy one, (don’t use credit!) think of your refrigerator’s freezer in a new way, as more than just a place to store ice cream. 
  • Maximize the space, break down large items into compact packages, for instance, debone your chicken, make a concentrated broth to store, and put the meat into zip bags for storage in quantities you use for recipes such as casseroles. 
  • Double up on items like meat loaves, etc., just be very conscious of how long items are stored and how well your packages fit. Freezing is never the place to skimp on storage wrappers and containers.
  • It’s even more important to use good quality storage in the refrigerator/freezer. It’s not as cold as a deep freeze and the door is opening/closing more often.  Think shorter term storage to preserve quality.

Stocking your Pantry:

  • There really is no reason to pay regular prices on items that store well. 
  • Keep a price book so you know the rock bottom prices for your stores and stock up when these items hit their lows. 
  • When you keep a price book, you can readily identify these trends in your own area and take advantage of the drops when they happen.
  • You should be thinking in terms of quarters because most pantry items go on sale at a rock bottom price every quarter, and generally those sales are incented by discounts or coupons from the manufacturers or producers.
  • There are certain many items you’ll want to think about stocking up on in enough quantity to last you for longer than a quarter:  There are Cyclic Changes in the market you’ll want to pay attention to. Seasonality and holiday pricing means some items are at their lowest once a year.
  • A serious issue in the storage of foods in the pantry is loss, and one easily preventable loss is what’s referred to as “flour bugs.” Freeze grains, pastas, etc. that come into the home for three days or refrigerate for 30.
  • Rotate, seal and organize your pantry. First in, first out.

Consider some light canning as a family project:  It’s a great way to control your quality.

  • Speaking of value and quality, it may sound old-fashioned, but some light canning as a family project can be a fun, cost-effective way to store when fruits and vegetables are inexpensive in the summer. 
  • I’ve noticed lately there seems to be a resurgence of interest in some of these lost arts. 
  • I’ve found “specialty” products seem to make the most sense for me in this day and age, since most the basics you can buy for so little in the stores.  Think your ‘special’ barbecue sauce, homemade jellies and jams, hot pickled beans, etc. 
  • Any homemade specialty items are always welcome for holiday, house warming and hostess gifts.
  • Hot water bath canning (for items with a higher acidic content) is easy and straight forward, and even pressure canning isn’t difficult – it just needs more equipment.  Small batches of items are quick and take very little time. 
  • Of course, a full out canning to preserve a harvest is a whole ‘nuther animal in terms of time and effort and is beyond the scope of my site.

Strategy Two:  Pay Attention to the Bottom Line

Links for The Twelve Strategies: 

3 thoughts on “Bank Your Foods”

  1. This is such great advice. I just got a 7 cubic foot chest freezer for $150 on sale after my kitchen freezer had become so unruly due to me trying to do what you are describing…plus, I was limited in how much I could buy when I did find a great sale, which was always a bummer. I live in a small apartment, and had to put the chest freezer in the bedroom! Ha! Totally worth it! I’m looking forward to it saving me plenty of money as time passes!

    1. I couldn’t live without mine, so kudos for you for makng it work! Plus, a lot of healthy foods are “slow” foods to make, so it makes a lot of sense to double or triple recipes. I also like to freeze all my nuts and some of my grains. Especially my homemade Muesli.

      Plus, you now have an extra space to pile your clothes~!

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Fabulously Frugal Cooking & Shopping

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