If you don’t grow your own food or you are just getting started, you might be wondering how to make it through the next eight or nine months as frugally as possible.
Due to not growing our own fruits and veggies the last two summers and only raising our hens for eggs, our pantry is a bit…well empty. We still have a few weeks before we’ll be starting seeds for our garden and many months before our pantry will be full again.
So I had to come up with a plan of what I can do to get our pantry stocked up at least a little bit.
Filling The Pantry In 6 Easy Steps
I don’t know about you, but right now, I have no idea what exactly is in my pantry. I used to keep an ongoing pantry inventory list and this is something I’m working on putting back into effect around here. Click here if you’d like to get a copy of our inventory sheet, you can sign up for our Email Toolbox and get it for free! When we know what items and how many of each we have in our pantry, we get a better idea of what we actually need from the store. This is a huge time saver when making out your grocery list, plus it’ll save you money.
Don’t just stop at the pantry. While you are already on a roll, go ahead and inventory your fridge, freezer, and cabinets. You’ll most likely be shocked by the number of meals you actually have hidden behind all the stuff you don’t use. Use this time to donate food you aren’t using to a local food bank or to a family that you know enjoys what your family doesn’t like.
By now your kitchen counters and possibly your kitchen table is filled with all the items you took out of your pantry. Now is a good time to wipe all your shelves and cans/jars down with a white vinegar/water mixture. Just put an inch or two of vinegar in the bottom of a spray bottle and fill the rest up with warm water. This is a quick and non-toxic way to clean your home. Once everything is dry, you can go ahead and put all your food back in the pantry.
I organize my pantry by type that way it is neat and the kids don’t have to search all over when I send them for a can of beans or a jar of spaghetti sauce.
I also try to organize my freezer space. We only have the top freezer on our fridge right now, so space is tight and limited. We’re hoping that soon we’ll be able to add a stand-up freezer and a chest freezer to go in the pantry to keep all the meat we’re planning on processing this year.
Create a Budget
It is usually at this stage of the game that I just want to quit. It is one of the main factors that pushed me back into homesteading in the first place, among other things. I wince and about cry in pain every time we go to the grocery store. Sadly, for our family, it is one of the few areas where we tend to cut corners. Grocery prices are ridiculously high and for anything that is nutritious and good for you, it will cost you a lot more than purchasing a bag of chips. Considering that we aren’t getting the best quality of food these days, I’d rather leave it on the shelves than take it home with me.
But, we have no choice right now to get our pantry stocked back up so we can get through the next few months before our harvest comes in and preserving season can begin.
First, you’ll need to figure out if you want to do this on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or longer scale. This month we have a bigger budget than other months, so we are taking a good chunk of our funds and going ahead and stocking up. We’ll continue to add as we need to, but the idea here is to try to get to where I only need to purchase flour, sugar, milk, baking ingredients, juice, etc. Consider what you can make homemade and from scratch that you don’t need to buy from the grocery store. Bread and noodle products are the first areas we are cutting out. My hope is to get at the very least my family’s meat, veggies, broths, and sauces stocked for the next 3-5 months. I would recommend shooting for the same to begin.
Make Your List
If you’ve taken inventory, then at least part of the hard work in done for you. Jot down what you need off your inventory lists and then build upon that. Consider what your family is going to eat between now and harvesting/preserving season. For me, I have between seven and nine months before I will be able to say my pantry and freezers are stocked. That is about 41 weeks (yes, I actually counted!). That is a lot of canned/frozen veggies, meat/fish, noodles, sauce, soups, and breakfast meals. We do eat one night a week at the church with our church family, 1-2 nights of leftovers, and 2 nights that we have meatless dinner (eggs, pancakes, french toast, veggie soup, etc.).
Head To The Store
With your shopping list in hand, rally up your grocery shopping helpers, and head to your favorite store. Try to shop locally if you can. Check around and see if anyone is selling eggs or pasture raised chicken/beef/pork that they processed in early Fall. If you can’t, look for the freshest ingredients available. Purchasing organic, and non-gmo foods is a great place to start and although it isn’t as wonderful as growing your own, it will do until your garden is done.
If you have a local butcher shop, check in with them on pricing. We have one here and their meat is fresher, tastes better, and is much cheaper than the grocery store. We purchased two large meat packs from them when we first moved here to Missouri and it was enough meat to feed my family 5 nights a week for 3 months and the total cost came to less than $400.
Come Home and Put It All Away
I know some of you are groaning, but this actually the good part in all of this! When you can stand back and look at your neatly organized pantry and freezer and see that it is full of meals that your family can enjoy, you’ll be thankful.
Do you have any tips or suggestions on helping us get our pantry stocked until the garden harvest comes in? We’d love to hear from you. Share your tips in the comments section below 🙂