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*
at 6:00 AM