I know many of you were readers or at least familiar with The Tightwad Gazette, either the original newsletter or the compilation books published once the newsletter wrapped up. I learned about her back in the early 90's, when my older kids were still quite young. Money was tight and I looked wherever I could to find ways to stretch our income. The one thing that stood out was the Pantry Principle, basically not shopping every week for the weeks groceries, but rather building a stocked up food stores of food purchased at the lowest possible prices. Some time later, I also learned about The Non-Consumer Advocate, who basically recycled the same principle. Now, it's just DH and me, we've got different financial motivators than making sure there was not more month than money. Still, with my month of competitions I have been wondering how to do a Pantry Principle like strategy for two and would a modified version help me whittle down funds now and ongoing?.
We're no longer going through boxes of cereal and an 18 ounce jar of peanut butter can last us more than month. DH get's bored with the same meals and boredom for him is a sure sign that our take out and eating out budget will skyrocket, so I need variety on hand. My strategy will to have on hand a basic pantry, freezer, and long fridge life food that I can easily pull a meal together on the fly. With that in mind, I approached my shop last Saturday. beyond fresh food, I didn't buy for meals, but to restock. Other weeks this will look different.
- Black Beans
- Chili beans
- Diced Tomatoes
- Baking mix
- Soft large Tortillas
- Canned vegetables-corn, peas, green beans
- Frozen vegetables-broccoli, chopped spinach
- Family pack boneless chicken (to cook 1/2 for two meals this week and freeze other 1/2 in two packages)
Over the next few weeks, different pantry (generic for all stock) items will be bought depending on what we use up. I'll hope to build back other items that are used and if I hit a great sale, buy a spare. I don't want cases of the stuff though. I don't have room, or interest right now with other urging and reorganizing going on. As I found though with a couple weeks of menu planning, we easily have food that could be turned into meals for weeks if not a month even if I was prevented from getting to a store or shelves were bare, though some might be quite creative. This approach, while adding fresh food, should get me in and out of a store in 30 minutes or less as I'll know exactly what will go in my cart. If this reworked version of The Pantry Principle works, I might keep it going and squirrel away more of my grocery budget in October and early November before buying holiday food, and be ahead of my annual $5,000 grocery budget.
What's on the list for this coming week? Well, I realized with all the attention on getting a basic spice/basics kit for my college kid's kitchen, I am at the bottom of many things myself. Running out of garlic and onion powder would throw my whole cooking game off. Are you weekly shoppers or do you do some form of a pantry principle? Has your shopping changed as you've added or lessened your household count?
Edit: Thanks for all the great comments o this post. I see that managing pantry's is a tool so many of you use both for organizing your life as well as managing your grocery budget. Thanks for participating!