Friday, March 4, 2016

How to build a food stockpile without breaking the bank - an experiment





It is very rare that we come in at the end of the month with a little extra in our food budget. I always try, but there are often times when I think we're going to come in under, and events come up or I don't plan well enough and suddenly we have hardly anything in the refrigerator.

Many months, I have tried to stockpile when I see things on sale, but the problem was, it often threw the rest of our food budget off. I finally resigned myself to buying only what we needed for the next week, even if it meant paying slightly more for some foods, and soon I found my food budget coming back under my control.

This past month, however, we managed to come in about $55 under, and we also received a $100 check to put toward groceries from my mother-in-law thanking us for hosting them when they visited. I was excited to see this, not because I want to put the money toward debt, but because I have a little plan. You see, I'd like to experiment with these dollars to see how I can leverage them or grow them into more food dollars for us as the year goes on.

The idea is this: if I put all of this surplus food budget money toward celebrating with shrimp and steak, it wouldn't grow at all. It would be tasty, but fleeting. If I put it toward paying off debt, we'd get a return of about 7.9%, the interest rate on the highest loan we have right now.

That's not bad, but if I stocked up on a food item that is on sale for much more than 7.9% off, I'm getting more of a return.

So then the math nerd in me was compelled to actually make a list of foods that I can buy in bulk or on sale and the savings they offer compared to the normal prices I pay. Care to indulge me as I share them?

Tuna - 28%
Oatmeal in bulk - 34%
Rice - 35%
Potatoes - 60%
Black beans - 50%
Frozen chicken - 23%
Pork - 40%
Eggs - 31.5%
Mozzarella - 44.5%
Pepperoni - 48%
Jam (on sale for $.99 in the fall) - 45%
Peanut butter (also on sale at same time) - 50%
Pasta - 33%
Sugar - 50%
Ground beef - 33%
Apples - 37%

The average savings coming from purchasing these food items in bulk or when they are at their lowest prices is 40%. This doesn't even include putting food dollars into starting a garden. In my estimation, it's possible to grow $100 worth of produce in a 4x4 raised bed which can cost only $35, so this would roughly be a return of almost 300%.

I'd like to see what I can do with these dollars, so my plan is to chronicle what I do with some of my extra food dollars each month, share what I purchased and how it saved us money, and hopefully build up our food supply over the year, while maintaining a "bulk purchases fund" to further increase our food supply. I don't want to go crazy, though, so I probably won't spend the entire $155 this coming month.

So far this month, I have "invested" in peanut butter, pepperoni, apples, and rice. At Dillons, which is our local Kroger chain, they had all-natural peanut butter on sale for $.99 per 15 ounce jar. We go through about a jar a week, and there is usually another sale of this kind around back-to-school time, so I purchased 25 jars, or enough to get us through August. Normally I would pay around $1.59-$1.79 per jar, so the savings rate is quite significant from this purchase.

I used to buy pepperoni at Aldi, but then I began to notice their portion size dropping while the price rose. Comparing price per ounce with the Sam's Club 3 lb bag of pepperoni, I discovered that I could save about 48% buy purchasing in bulk. The only thing I do after this is to make sure to freeze the pepperoni in smaller portions (and hide the non-frozen portions from secret snackers :)).

What are your favorite things to buy in bulk?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, Disease Called Debt and Dream Beyond Debt*

6 comments:

  1. I buy things by the case when they are a good deal, such as ketchup, mandarin oranges, pineapple, mushrooms. I shop at Costco, Cash and Carry, Azure Standard, Grocery Outlet and traditional stores as well. I buy 1/2 beef from a farmer. We may be going down to 1/4 this year. Recently, my husband brought home a 25 lb. bag of sugar after hearing I was running out. It was $12 or $13. (I can't remember.) Anytime I can get sugar for 50cents a lb., I am doing well. We buy almost everything in bulk, and store it in glass gallon jars, the freezer, old ice cream buckets, leftover tins from vacation Bible school curriculum....you name it. It saves us so much money! I buy at rock bottom prices and then shop from my garage, cellar and freezers.

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    1. You know, I've been seeing sugar here for $1.69/4 lb bag at Aldi, and I should just buy a few bags since that is a good price. I love Azure standard too, especially for their gluten-free flours and oatmeal. I would love to purchase a side of beef one day too!

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    2. You know, I've been seeing sugar here for $1.69/4 lb bag at Aldi, and I should just buy a few bags since that is a good price. I love Azure standard too, especially for their gluten-free flours and oatmeal. I would love to purchase a side of beef one day too!

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  2. I just found you tonight, and am tired so have only read this far, but I'm liking your blog so far! I love the grocery idea, and am curious to see how you do. I might try similar, it's a fantastic idea.

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  3. Thanks Sarah. I am planning on posting at the end of each month a result on what I did with my extra spending money and how much I saved from my regular food budget to add to the "stock-up" fund. Hopefully it will result in a better-stocked pantry and a lower food budget overall. :)

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  4. Try Krazy Coupon Lady.com they have some great deals for stockpiling (and help trying to afford it)

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