The Pantry Principle and Other Prudent Ways to Stock Up and Save Money on Food « Frugal Café Blog Zone

The Pantry Principle and Other Prudent Ways to Stock Up and Save Money on Food

Posted By on March 4, 2009

By Vicki McClure Davidson * Frugal Café Blog Zone

If you’re becoming increasingly concerned about the potential financial demise of our nation or the possibility that you could be housebound for days or weeks due to hurricanes or blizzards, what can you do to protect yourself and your family?

If America’s economy were to crash, and stores run out of bottled water or canned goods or batteries or light bulbs or toilet paper, are you prepared to weather the maelstrom that would be sure to follow? Do you have any provisions stashed away as a safety measure?

If not, take action now. There are a host of websites out there that address those concerns. There is a rule of thumb that, to err on the side of caution, a 6-month supply on hand of basic consumables is a wise idea.

A friend of mine, when he lived in California, had his “earthquake emergency provisions.” Just to be safe and to have complete peace of mind, he had 150 1-gallon jugs of purified water stored in his garage and several large moving boxes filled with canned meats and vegetables, light bulbs, candles and matches, flashlights, spices, and non-fat dry milk stashed away in a closet (when telling me his story, he really emphasized having a lot of spices on hand). He never has had to use them, but it’s a prudent precaution. And he slept better at night, knowing that his family had backup provisions.

At our favorite conservative blog, Michelle Malkin’s blog, there are a wealth of ideas posted by readers on how to be prepared: “I hope to hasten the inevitable collapse”. The blog title refers to a “wealth producer’s manifesto” from Laura at the site Pursuing Holiness.

While most of the ideas and anecdotes posted in the Comments section on stocking up on food and supplies and starting a garden are helpful, we felt the following response from reader CJ about the “pantry principle” was particularly valuable and prudent. The first quote below is what CJ is responding to; CJ’s response follows:

So they always kept the basement full of food, and bought extra things when times were good. For example, if there was a sale, my mother bought 3 of what she needed, not one.

On March 4th, 2009 at 7:52 am, CJ said:
It actually has a name: the pantry principle. Stores (particularly grocery stores) offer sales called “loss leaders.” Those are the better-than-half-price items on the front page of their advertising flyers that the store offers at a loss in the hopes of attracting you to the store. They figure they will make up the loss on the non-sale items you’ll pick up while you’re at their store (milk, eggs, etc).

The idea of the pantry principle is that you buy enough of the loss leaders to last you until the next time they go on sale. Rule of thumb is 6 weeks worth, although some items tend to be cyclical. (Hamburger tends to get heavy markdowns around Memorial Day and Labor Day, ham around Christmas.)

When my kids were little and money was tight, I used to put a cooler in the car. There were 3 grocery stores in close proximity, and I shopped them all. One store had overall lower prices, but the sales weren’t as good. One store had great sales, but overall prices were higher — that one probably lost money on me since the only things I bought there were the loss leaders.

As always, be wise… be frugal.

Also check out Bob Pritts, WilsonCountyNews: The Death of Farmers’ Markets, CSA’s, and Local Food Production

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About the author

I'm a conservative frugalist. My priorities: Watchdogging the government, making sure our tax dollars are spent wisely, living within our budgets (at home and in Washington, DC), and adhering to our Constitution and the conservative principles upon which it was developed by our founding fathers. Also, loving God, my family, and my country. Be wise, be frugal. God bless America!      

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