The following post is from Melissa Batai
Financial insecurity can unfortunately hit at any time of life. Maybe you’re living on a low income, paying down debt, coping with medical bills, or dealing with any number of problems. The most common advice to handle this precarious financial situation is to have an emergency fund.
While putting money away for an emergency fund is important, if you’re living on the financial edge, another step you should take is to build up your pantry.
By building up your own food storage, you create yet another safety net for yourself in times of crisis.
How to Build Up Your Pantry
Stock Up on Foods Your Family Already Uses. The key to building up your pantry is to stock up on foods that your family already uses. For instance, if you eat oatmeal a few times a week, rather than buying a little canister of oatmeal, buy it in bulk. Depending on your family size, that may be a 25 or 50-pound bag. You can do the same for dry beans, flour, sugar, and canned goods. Another bonus is that when you buy in bulk, you’ll likely see significant savings per pound versus buying in smaller amounts.
Set Aside $15 to $50 for Food Storage. Creating a well-supplied pantry doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Just do it little by little. If your weekly grocery budget is $150, set aside as little as $15 each week to add to your pantry. In less than six months, you’ll have $350 invested in your food storage.
How to Care for Your Pantry
Now that you’ve invested money in pantry items, you don’t want to risk losing the food to insects or spoilage. There are a few steps you can take to prevent this.
Buy Mostly Dry Goods. Many people who create an ample pantry do so with dry goods—grains, beans, canned fruits and vegetables, etc. To keep the food fresh, you’ll want to invest in good, sealed storage containers or simply place the food in the freezer. A few months ago, I bought a 50-pound bag of oatmeal for my family. I divided it into gallon freezer bags and store it in our deep freezer because I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in plastic storage containers.
Have a Variety of Food. Obviously, you’ll want a variety of food, but most importantly, you should have food that is stored in a variety of ways. You should have meat, veggies and fruit in the freezer, but you don’t want that to be the only place where your food storage is. Imagine if you live in a hurricane vulnerable state, and your power goes out for days thanks to a hurricane. Unless you have access to dry ice, you could lose hundreds of dollars in food storage. Instead, make sure your food pantry is made up of dry goods, freezer foods, and canned goods.
Rotate Your Foods. Another way to avoid waste is to make sure to rotate your food and keep an eye on expiration dates. If you have canned fruit that will expire soon, make sure to eat that up and buy some fresh cans. If you’re buying foods that your family regularly eats, this isn’t hard to do.
When I was young, my dad lost his job and was unemployed for nearly two years. In the beginning, my parents were able to save the money they did have by eating all the items from our pantry instead of going grocery shopping. A full pantry just gives you another safety net in the event of the unexpected.
Do you keep a full pantry? If so, what do you keep in it?