Monday, August 9, 2010

3 Keys To A Successful Food System

There are numerous ways to stretch your hard earned dollars but today I'm going to focus on one easy method.  Food.  There are several key components to successfully cooking at home to help you apply your money to either paying down bills or putting that money into savings.

1. Pantry
2. Menu Planning
3. Stocking up

1.  My pantry is vital to my menu planning.
The pantry we have in our house is a closet that my husband built sturdy shelving on to hold heavy canned goods and jars.  I have canned goods, bake goods, my jelly's and things I have canned are hidden from the light behind the canned goods to keep them longer.  On the floor are bakers tubs that hold rice, beans, and wheat berries for baking.  I also have paper goods that looks untidy on top of the tubs at the floor level.  The thing that helps me above all else is that I have things organized in sections like you would a supermarket.  I can open the doors and at a glance know if I have what I need for a recipe.  We try to write down when we have used the last of something or are low.  My husband is really good about letting me know that we are low as he knows I count on my pantry for my  meal planning.  Your pantry doesn't have to be like mine.  ANY space that you have will work.  Start small, when you find that you need more space see what you can move around in your home to create more storage.  You can use a folding table with tubs underneath with food, throw some fabric on the top and you have a hidden pantry that serves as a buffet table!  Try recycled bookshelves.  You can place this in your dinning room as it is or if you don't like seeing the items use fabric as a "door" to your shelving.  There are many options.  Think outside the box, don't limit yourself.  Your pantry is saving you money and letting you put that money in other places and savings!  Don't be shy about it.  I started with very clumsy metal shelving out in the open.  The shelves tended to sag but it worked and we were able to store a lot of food on those shelves.

2. Menu Planning.  This is just as important as the other two key's to saving money on food.  When I don't have a menu, I have a failed system.  I get into trouble when it's dinner time and I don't have a plan.  If we are in town that's when we eat out.  Or if we are home that's when we start scrambling for "something" to eat.  This is not detailed, I can devote an entire post to menu planning later.  I gather my recipes and pick several  out that I want to make for the month.  Then I check the pantry and kitchen cabinets and make a grocery list for the remaining ingredients I do not have.  I plan on leftovers so I do not need to make meals each and every day.  I am planning for my main meals when making my menu.  I usually have simple food on hand for lunches or we eat leftovers at lunch or a sandwich or something.

3. Stocking Up.  There is more to having a pantry than simply purchasing a bunch of food and putting it in your shelves to overflowing.  Yes, it's nice to have plenty in case of emergency, guests, and not having to run to town to go to the supermarket for forgotten items.  However, watching for sales will make the most of your pantry.  Watch the prices in the supermarket you frequent.  Visit other markets in your area.  You might be surprised to learn another market has better prices and by driving a little further it is worth your while.  At any rate.  Watch the prices on items you frequently purchase.  When you see those things go on sale and you feel it warrants stocking up on to save you money in the future that is when you would purchase in bulk and your pantry will come in handy!  Over time you will add more and more items that you have purchased in bulk and stocked  up on for later when there is no sale.  Some people choose to use coupons instead of sales.  They wait until they have coupons and stock up on items.  With careful planning you may even be able to use a coupon during a sale for additional savings.  Whatever method works best for you and your family that helps you save money at the supermarket is the method you should use.

These three key components help me save money on food, and provide a nourishing meal at home.


Riverswamp said...

pretty pretty!

prairieharmony said...

Thank you Riverswamp!

Anonymous said...

Another place to revamp for use is the linen cupboard. Take the extra set of sheets you use on a bed and put it under that mattress till you need to use it. The room you now have can be used for you food or paper storage. Some people store an extra blanket in a pillow case and put it on the day bed along with the other pillows and no one is the wiser that it is actually holding a blanket. As you said, think outside the box. thank you for all the ideas and info ration. Sarah