Economic common sense is lacking in most people. While they dislike paying high prices for things (in the context of this blog things = food or related items), most have no idea how to avoid doing it. They may accidentally ‘stumble’ on a good sale and smile to themselves, but that is luck not skill. They may even be astute enough to read the ads and go to the store and buy an item at a reduced price. However, even while that is very good, it still is not efficient or sufficient.
The answer lies in the development of a HOME FOOD PANTRY. This is not a new concept as the pioneers of old all had a food pantry or food cellar. Their need for one came from necessity in that stores were often large distances away and they had to preserve their home grown food products so they would last until next year when they were available again. I remember reading about a man from that period who said he never ate an apple that was not going bad, because the better apples could still be kept longer and they only ate those at the end of their storage life.
Now in ‘modern’ times with food products available year round and easily accessible from local stores, the use of the home food pantry has gone by the way. DOES THAT MEAN THEY ARE OBSOLETE? The answer is ‘no’, but the justification has changed. The real benefit of a home food pantry today is to save money and secondarily to have food stores in case of a natural disaster or worse.
The bottom line is that in order to reduce your food costs you must BUY IN QUANTITY – ON SALE. This principle also applies to items that are preserved at home, in that you must go through the preservation process when the food item is at its lowest price or when it is available from your own garden.
The other aspect of a home food pantry is managing what is in it. As with the apple story, food items will not keep indefinitely. However there are items, like paper products, that can last indefinitely if stored properly. The ‘first in - first out’ rule will apply, but also restraint is required. You should only stock items that you will use in a designated time frame. Over stocking is costly, takes more work, and valuable space may be taken up. I keep an inventory sheet and mark off items as they are used, and I have a restocking point where I begin to look for the next big sale on that item. In a larger home pantry, the shelf life of an item will come into play and rotation of stock is required.
Funding a home pantry must be a consideration. The larger the pantry the more it will cost to establish. You must set aside funds for this purpose. The buying of home pantry items cannot be taken from your weekly/monthly food allowance; because you still are consuming food will you are stocking the pantry. However once the pantry is stocked, you can use your food allowance to facilitate stock rotation by eating the older stock when replacing it with newer stock.
There are two final issues. What is a good price for an item? Do you have to know the prices of everything? That would be a difficult task. Actually you only need to be familiar with the prices of items you and your family use or plan to store; and with experience you will learn what is a good price and what is a GREAT price and buy accordingly. The other issue is do you have to buy inferior quality items because they cost less? My philosophy is to only purchase items my family finds acceptable. We will always try the store brand or off brand, and many times they are acceptable and we continue to use that brand. However, other times the quality is inferior for our needs and the brand names are the item of choice. BUT we still can buy the brand name item IN QUANTITY – ON SALE.
Everything I have discussed is really just economic common sense. If you don’t feel you have that skill, it doesn’t mean you cannot learn it. In all aspects of life, some people have a natural talent and some don’t. Some have economic common sense and some don’t. Those that don’t just have to work harder and they can be successful. As a wise person once said, “It’s your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude”.