Sunday, April 3, 2011

Getting Started/ Getting the Job done

In less than 6 weeks during the summer of 2010 I felt like we had accumulated enough food to keep us alive for three months - if meagerly.  For the remaining 6 weeks I would be saving money to buy a hand grinder, and adding more variety to the menu.  The first week we pretented to not have anything on our shelves.  I bought household cleaners, personal  hygene items, spices, and a few staples: rice, flour, and wheat.  a few chicken breasts were the only meat I had for a week.  We made a big pot of chicken soup with rice and made it through the week.  Even this exercise was valuable because hungry children can be fed for very little with a savory soup that has very little meat in it.

Some lessons I learned:

1)  Dedicate a percentage of your meal budget to fresh milk, eggs, and produce.  The rest of your food money goes to  buying shelf stable items and supplies.   Some people who tried to buy a months supply of shelf stable food last summer, found they were lacking fresh foods and by the end of the month they were disenfranchised.

2)  The more money available to buy groceries at once the better.  Our food storage drastically improved when the pay check began coming once a month instead of every two weeks.  The purchasing power of $400 is better than $100.  More foods can be purchased in bulk and at the best price per ounce.

3)  Share and co-opt to get the best price then divide it if you are single or have a small family.

4)  Buy what you eat.  One man I know will not eat anything but a frozen burrito.  He is perfectly happy with those.  I would encourage him to buy frozen burritos and hope the electricity doesn't go with his job.  Storing 90-270 burritos (planning on 1 a day to 3 a day) is not prohibitive.  It would fit in a small freezer and he would be prepared.  Then I would work on learning how to make burritos from flour and beans.  These are long term storage items, the basic ingredients of a bean burrito.  The long term storage items require no freezing and could be cooked over a fire if in dire straights.

Which brings me to tomorrow's post - building a fire and cooking on it.


  1. do you guys have 'bountiful baskets' in your area? what do you think of that idea? Part of me likes the idea of being surprised w/what produce you get (20-25 lbs for $15), but part of me thinks I should just stick w/the grocery store & choosing my own produce.

  2. The percentage formula, you provided my family, has worked really well. We have a family of three and a budget of $225 for the month. $125 is set aside for staples, household goods, etc. and $25 per week is set aside for sale and fresh items. In the beginning, it was a little tough buying in bulk and staying within budget. Not to be swayed, I kept with the formula and within three months of setting aside the budgeted amount, it has worked beautifully. Now we have a little to tuck away in savings each month! Thanks so much for your guidance.

  3. See the Bountiful Baskets post. Marseille, if you are afraid you cannot use all the produce, find a friend to divide the produce and the cost. It may not always be better than the grocery store loss leader items but over the long run it will probably provide more variety at a cheaper price than grocery store produce.