Sunday, 4 September 2011

Storecupboards and pantries

One of the two wardrobes we have moved into the garage for pantry storage. The FH has re-jigged it since I took this picture, but it gives you an idea of what we are doing. Lots of Branston beans bought on the buy-one-get-two-free offer at Tesco recently, UHT milk, etc.
This is a work in progress and I will add more up to date photos when we are nearer completion.

Do you shop often or are you a once a month kind of person? Do you live near a supermarket, or perhaps you have to travel miles to a shop? Have you tried supermarket home delivery, or maybe they won't even deliver to your postcode? And do you menu-plan or fly by the seat of your pants?

All these things might affect your attitude to keeping stocks of food in the house, and your economic circumstances probably affect it more than anything.

There are various blogs and websites which take opposing views on this - you just have to google "stockpiling" and you will easily find hundreds of pictures of vast pantries and piles of tins and packets. There are similarly websites which advocate buying only what you need each week. I really like this blog at Grocery Cart Challenge where Gayle attempts to feed her family of 6 on only $60 a week at the grocery stores. She gives lots of recipes and thrifty ideas, as well as a weekly menu plan and pictures of what she buys. I like to check out her menu plans now and again for new ideas!

I stand somewhere between the two extremes, although as we are heading towards winter, I am veering over to the stockpiling side. As I said in an earlier post, I really hate driving in snow, so if I think there will be any, I'm staying home until the cold snap passes, and we live on what we have in the house - so I want to be sure that we have some decent stocks in hand.

On the other hand, regular and long time readers will know that I have done Challenges where I spend £100 in a month on essentials and use up what we have in stock - this is going over to the other side of the coin.

There are definitely pros and cons to each method, and I do like the pros of the stockpiling! It means that when things that we use weekly are on sale, I can stock up, knowing that the items will get used because they are part of our regular shopping. Things that will bear long term storage are best for this - tins, bottled and dry goods, for example. Just make sure you rotate the stocks so that the oldest stuff is used first!

The biggest benefit to the other method is money in the bank! It allows me to save for something I need by not shopping. When we wanted to buy the woodburner a year or two back, we simply stopped shopping for anything other than what was essential - and we soon had the money we needed, because we had the stocks put aside of what we needed. Most of what I bought those months was fresh fruit and veg and dairy products.

Amy Daczczyn in her Tightwad Gazette books (I have all three - bought at the beginning of our frugal life and well worth it!) talks about a Pantry Principle. Instead of menu planning and then shopping for what you need to make those items for the week, you go shopping and buy only what is on sale, keeping a price book so that you know you are getting the best deal on most stuff. You then plan your meals from what you have in stock. It does work out cheaper in the long run, I believe, but it also means that some items may be absent from your diet until they come on sale again! If you can manage with that, it works.

There is an Australian website called Simple Savings whose owners have written a book, the $21 challenge in which they give chapter and verse on how to do a challenge week, now and again, to use up what you have in stock, and spend only $21 to supplement your stores. There are some great recipes in this book, and I am going to be trying some of them out soon. This idea is similar to my £100 month challenges.


Lesley said...

We live a few minutes from a huge Tesco, and it is very easy to pop in for something and come out £30 worse off! I try to counteract this by planning my menus to use up what's in the store cupboard, and always making a list, (in supermarket aisle order, of course!) If there is a good deal on something we use, I will stockpile and use it up in subsequent menu plans. It seems to work for me. I try and buy value brands, as I cook from scratch a lot and one tin of chopped tomatoes is not much different to another tin of chopped tomatoes.

Wannabe Sybil said...

This is really interesting - I hope you don't mind if I cover similar musings on my blog. I think it is really useful as well - we all need to think about it these days! WSx