Benefits of a Well Stocked Pantry

Dear Home-ec 101:

I hate going to the grocery store each week and spending so much money. I’ve heard that I need to have a stocked pantry, but I don’t understand how that will help me. If I buy twice as much food so that I have some in the pantry for next week, won’t that just cost even more?

Signed,
Going pantry-less

Have a question? Send it in!Heather says:

Going pantry-less is just asking to get caught with your pants down! Having a well stocked pantry can be life-saving when money gets tight.  However, building a pantry is not necessarily an all or nothing proposition. It can be stocked in relatively painless steps.  First, take a look at your average menu. What are the non-perishable foods you find yourself buying on a regular basis? Make a list and find your store’s current sales flyer. Many stores even list them online. Most chain supermarkets offer “loss leaders” in their flyers as a lure to bring you to their store. Loss leaders are items often priced near or at cost. The store owners are willing to take a profit hit on some items as most people will purchase other items at their normal cost. Loss leaders are usually offered in a rotation and smart consumers stock up when they know they are getting a good price. The goal is to build up your pantry enough to make it until your item is on sale again.

Are any of your staples on sale? There are some who believe they should stock up on everything, even if they don’t eat the item on a regular basis. If you hate tuna, save that space (and money!) for something you do like.

Don’t forget your freezer is an important extension of the pantry, especially for meat and vegetables. Recent studies have shown that frozen vegetables retain more nutrition than those that are picked too early, artificially ripened, and shipped hundreds of miles to be sold “fresh.”

With a little practice and planning, it is possible to buy most of your needs only when they are discounted. Fresh produce is a notable exception, but there are ways to save even in this category. When possible peruse Farmers’ Markets and produce stands to take advantage of local crops. At the peak of the season you may find some deep discounts. If you have the space consider freezing or canning your finds.

blueberriesLast summer we picked blueberries and froze them in one cup portions. I can now laugh at the price in the produce department and still enjoy blueberry waffles and the occasional cobbler.blueberry cobbler For my family, another great buy is the bags of bananas that are on the verge of being overripe. I peel them, portion, and freeze in ziplock bags to use for smoothies or baking. A little forethought and creativity can really stretch your grocery dollars.

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.



7 Comments

  1. Home Ec 101 » Blog Archive » Bulking up? on April 14, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    […] coupons and “loss leaders” can generate great savings over time.   Merchants count on consumers to be in a hurry and […]



  2. Busy Mom on March 6, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Pantry Raid!!!



  3. Angela on March 5, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    I do not have a pantry either, but I have cabnets that are assigned what goes in them. One for spices, flour, sugar…one for canned foods…one for boxed and dry foods. In exchange for this I have to keep my small appl. out of the kichen, but it works well.



  4. sista smiff on March 5, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    I really don’t have a “pantry.” One of my many gripes about this house.



  5. Badbadivy on March 5, 2007 at 11:05 am

    @sista

    Quick! Run around screaming until you pass out!



  6. sista smiff on March 5, 2007 at 11:04 am

    I don’t have a pantry. Whatever will I do?



  7. malia on March 5, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Rachael Ray’s cookbook, “Express Lane Meals” has really good tips for creating a well stocked pantry. If you’re an RR fan and use a lot of her recipes, stocking her suggestions makes shopping for meals fairly easy. And you can shop for a week or two of meals instead of going through the Express Lane every other day. A lot of the fresh things she suggests will keep several days or can be frozen for later use.