Tuesday, February 3, 2015

This is Why! part 4

Parts 1, 2, and 3 can be found here.

In the last entry we talked about how to use leftovers to help stock our pantries. This week we’re going shopping.  Of course, we stock our pantries by shopping but are we just filling our grocery cart or are we SHOPPING to fill our pantries? 

Here are some ways I shop to fill my pantry ...

16.       I pray about my pantry.  I pray before I shop, while I shop and for pantry stocking wisdom.  Yes, I really do this! 

17.       I make a grocery list and menu before I go shopping.   When I plan my menu before I go shopping my grocery list is a lot smaller.  When I shop from my pantry before I go shopping my grocery list is a lot smaller. You know what this means?  Menu planning and shopping from my pantry leaves more money in my food budget to use on the great deals that I find as I shop! 

18.       I scrutinize grocery store flyers.  I take a marker and circle the items that I’m interested in then I transfer the circled items to my grocery list.  Before I head to the store I check to see if there are any coupons available. 

19.       I use a price book/price sheet.  In order to get the best deals I have to know what a good price is.  My price book/sheet gives me that information.   

20.      I use coupons IF and ONLY IF it’s for something we use or IF it’s for something new we want to try.  If we won’t use it, I don’t need it in my house!   

  21.     I take advantage of clearance food sales.  

22.       I use the 1 + 1 rule whenever possible.  When I purchase a food item, if possible, I buy an extra one and add it to my pantry. 

23.       I check unit prices.  Sometimes a lower price seems like something really great until you compare unit prices.  Yikes, I want to keep my pantry well-stocked but at the most economical prices, don’t you? 

24.       I ‘know’ the stores I shop at … meaning I know when they usually mark their meat down, where their clearance food is located, what their coupon policy is, whether or not they have a rain check policy and if so what it is and when their sales start and when they end each week.  I make it my business to know everything about their marketing that I can.  See this post on Shopping at Sam’s Club as an example of ‘knowing’ the stores you shop at. 

25.       I shop seasonal sales.  Turkey in November; ground beef and chicken in the summer especially around Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day; ham at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas; cranberries, canned soups, canned vegetables, celery, spices and baking supplies in November and December. 

26.       I buy marked down candy after the holidays.  I bring it home and vacuum seal it in quart or pint jars for later use.  Some examples are:  red hot cinnamons after Valentine’s Day, chocolate after Valentine’s Day/Easter/Halloween/Christmas and candy canes after Christmas. 

27.       I watch for items to go on sale that my family uses on a regular basis.  When I find a sale, I buy as much as my budget will allow using coupons if I have them. 

28.      I buy in bulk.  Some examples are toilet paper, paper towels, all kinds of dried beans, a variety of teas and cooking oils. 

29.       I add items to my grocery list as soon as I open the last one of any item.  This gives me time to restock the item before I need it. 

  30.    I take advantage of Amazon’s subscribe and save program.  

31.       We have grocery stores, etc that we stop in and check for great deals at when we’re out and about running errands … if time permits and we have any money. 

 32.      I shop at farmers markets and road side stands. 

33.       I shop at Mennonite/Amish non-electric stores.  Twice a year I get to shop at a non-electric Mennonite country store.  I absolutely love it.  This is when I restock my spices as well as other things that are considerably cheaper than main stream grocery stores. 

34.       I shop at Asian markets.  I get to do this about once every couple of months. 

35.       I shop at warehouse type stores.  The bulk of our grocery shopping is done at Sam’s Club.   

 36.      I shop at dollar stores.   

37.       I shop at discount grocery stores such as Aldi’s and Save-a-lot. 

Okay, I’ve shared with you how I shop to keep my pantry filled, how about you?  What tips do you have that will help us all stretch our food budget and fill our pantries at the same time?

Your comments are what will make this series more helpful so please share your wisdom.

To see how I incorporate all these ways in my daily life, join me at A Working Pantry.

A Working Pantry
My Other Blog ... She Hath Done What She Could


  1. Dear Patsy,
    This is so wonderful I posted it to Bluebirds face book page to try and direct more people here.It is such good advice. And you brought back a major good memory for me. Laine Letters. She always prayed before grocery shopping! And she had her lists and she knew where and when to strike. This is what we need to be doing. Not rush in and out. Allow time to look properly and go at the best times. I found out some of the best times in my main supermarket by asking the staff what time do they mark down this or that. They were happy to tell me. Also where to look.
    There are some things I go to cheap shop/dollar stores for only. And here toothpaste is cheaper in the chemist (pharmacy) than in the supermarket and things like that.
    Can you please tell me once you have sealed chocolate how long do you think it will keep? I have been blogging about shortages and chocolate is something that is predicted to rise greatly in price and run short of. So knowing how long it will keep would be great.
    Next week Helen is blogging for me on the subject of where to keep supplies. She has been de cluttering and re arranging in her home. Also another friend has a huge laundry cupboard she uses as a pantry as her kitchen doesnt have one or much cupboard space at all. So I am thinking this is a good point. We need to stock up and be prepared and we need to make the space to do it. Getting rid of junk is one way and clearing cupboards for more important things like good specials on things we always need.
    I also love farmers gate sales and farmers markets. Many times I have found great deals there.
    Many thanks for another very helpful post. I am loving these! xxx

    1. Thank you Annabel! You are such an encouragement! I have had chocolate vacuum sealed in jars for 2 years and when I opened a jar of it at Christmas, it was still good. I love chocolate and even though we've pretty much eliminated sugar from our diets I still have some every now and then ... and of course I use it when baking for others. Chocolate is a staple in my pantry! I'll be looking forward to Helen's post on where to keep supplies. I love your blog and read every post. I didn't know you had a facebook page, but I do now ... I'm off to join it!

  2. Oh yes, praying before going in is a must. Also, pray as I walk thru the store for the Lord to show me good deals we could use. All what you mentioned above I try and do. We have a thrift store that give bread and produce out for free. They just are sitting on shelves or in boxes next to the shelves for anyone to take. I am planning this summer to go to a produce auction with a friend I pray this works out. Big Lots will have markdowns and a 20% off everything ever so often. I order my spices, salts, nutritional yeast, and other bulk items online. Our farmers market is small so it hasn't panned out for us. Patsy you are such an encourager I so enjoy reading what you post. I pray for your finances, you are such a Proverbs 31 example.

    1. Hi Lisa! You shared some great tips! You have paid me the highest compliment ... that of being a Proverbs 31 woman ... thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  3. Hi Patsy! Another wonderful post! I have really enjoyed all of them. I do all the above except I don't have a price book. I set a budgeted amount that I am willing to pay for things and will wait until I get them at price or less and then stock up. With the way prices are going up I have had to refigure my price limits though. Also bartering is a good way to add to your pantry or gleaning. I have to say that I don't like to see anything go to waste unless it is for sure bad so people who know that I make most of my dogs food or that I have chickens will send stuff when they clean out pantries or freezers and a lot of stuff is still good like the pork loin last week. I hope you don't think I'm gross! Some people just don't see the value of their food I guess. Don't get me wrong the doggies don't get old yucky food though they could get sick too, but for example they can't eat a lot of corn. I have told a few younger ladies who are just starting out about your blog so they can learn too!
    Happy Day To You!

    1. Hi Vicky, I don't like to see anything go to waste either, and if it's still good, my husband and I are going to get first use of it. I too, am constantly having to reset my price limits on items we purchase. It seems that prices do just keep going up. Thanks for commenting!

  4. We shop mainly at 2 stores, Aldi and Sam's club. I know the base price of almost everything we purchase so when another store offers a better deal then I stock up. I purchased large cans of pasta sauce for .58/can and I use them for everything including soup bases. It makes a rich sauce for even the basic veggie soups. I am disabled so traveling to many stores is out of the question. I don't hesitate to ask my husband though as he loves to grocery shop. We plant a garden in the summer in our back yard. There is nothing like fresh tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

    1. That's a good tip about using the pasta sauce as a base for soup. Great price too! Thanks for commenting!

  5. Dear Patsy

    Great Post and one that has given me food for thought. I found my way here from a link on Annabel's blog "The Bluebirds are Nesting" I have discovered that prayer for guidance on many everyday and rather mundane decisions finds me with a clarity of thought and reminds me of my goals throughout the day. I always find guidance and sometimes in the most obscure places sometimes.

    In our household it is now just me and my two teenage daughters.
    I take note of meals that are "hits" with the girls and then plan to have them more often. I know the prices of pantry items we use most and look for the sale cycle, then I know when to shop. I check the catalogues weekly.

    Since I have been stocking up my pantry for a little while I do not have to buy staples weekly and so that frees up money for bulk buys from the alloted budget. I have also begun by cutting back a small amount of expensive ingredients from meals I make. So instead of opening a can of pineapple using half and giving the other half to the girls to eat I am using a third of a can in the recipe and freezing the rest immediately in another two lots so that I save 66% of this one ingredient for future use. I also freeze leftovers straight away even if it is only enough for a snack for one child. It saves unnecessary calories being eaten just because it is there and can make an after school snack or even a lunch for myself at work.

    At the moment chicken breast fillets are at a very low (low for us) price of $6-95 a kilo so I will buy 10 kilos and freeze them in single breast portions. this saves me $3 per kilo on the normal "sale" price and up to $6 per kilo on the "regular price". It frees up some money for more sales.

    I look forward to reading your blog from now on

    1. Welcome Melissa! I really like your comments about not wasting food and stretching the more expensive ingredients in recipes. Thank you for commenting!

  6. Such great ideas! For coupon information, check out the Deal Seeking Mom website http://dealseekingmom.com/2015-coupon-insert-schedule/ for a weekly schedule of what inserts are scheduled to be in the Sunday papers. If you go back on Saturday, you can se a list of every individual coupon that will be in the inserts. This helps me decide whether to buy the paper at all, or to get an extra. Also, if you come across a fantastic deal for a product you don't use (with us this is usually cereal and toothpaste), consider purchasing it and donating to a local food pantry.

    1. Great tip about the coupon insert schedule. Thanks! We usually take the' great deals/things we don't use' stuff to church and let others take it if they want it. I don't think we have a local food pantry but that is a great idea if you do. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I have been checking unit prices for a few years now, (excepting last year when my husband did all the grocery shopping as I could not go into shopping centres). I have always used a grocery list and have been weekly menu planning for a few years. I have just started (only in the last couple of weeks) checking out the grocery store flyers to see what is on special. I do what you do, circle the item then add it to my shopping list. My shopping receipt showed savings of $40 this week and $70 the week before – all due to buying the specials from the flyers. I bought multiples of the items on special.
    Next on my list of things to save money is fruit and veg shopping from road side stands and farm shops. We have a farm shop about 7 minute’s drive from home that my husband and I keep meaning to visit. And to remember to keep the chicken bones from future roast chicken dinners and put them in the freezer for making stock and soup.

    1. I love the way you're adding one new thing at a time to the things you do to save money and stock your pantry! Great savings too!

  8. Great tips! I always try to meal plan, and I second the Asian markets and farmers markets as places for great deals. Thanks so much for sharing your tips on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday :)

  9. This was a great article! I've been doing many of these things for years, but you've given me several great ideas!
    Thank you so much for being so generous.

  10. When I make the 5 hour drive to visit my sister in another state, I also go grocery shopping before I head home. They have a lower cost of living or maybe its the increased competion between grocery stores but I can usually save 10-30% on staples and there isn't sales tax on nonfood items like toothpaste and bath tissue. Late summer they also have case lot sales that make stocking up on things not in my pantry yet really easy. Sometimes veggies are as little as 30 cents a can. Or a case of pasta for half price! So if you have room and you are traveling, check on the grocery prices when visiting lower cost housing areas, they might just surprise you!

  11. Often times, when the grocery store has put a limit on loss-leader sale items, HH will stop daily at the grocery store on his way to work to buy the limited items (and only those items) until we have enough. Sometimes, one store in our area will usually end up short of the sale items and will write rain checks that are good for 2 month. It's a good way to spread the cost over more than one budgeting period.

  12. So happy to read this post and know that I'm not the only one to menu plan around what's on sale, check inventory, and shop the sales. I like to have candies set out around the holidays, especially if I have guests coming. I traditionally pick up Holiday M&Ms during the Christmas sales and separate them by color and seal in vacuum bags / jars -- red ones will go out for Valentine's Day and the greet ones are saved for St. Pat's.


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