Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stocking the Pantry with Loss Leaders

Here's an idea if you are having a difficult time stocking up on emergency food supplies. Each week when the store ads come out, you will see some cheaply priced items called loss leaders--sometimes requiring a coupon found in the ad flyer and other times requiring a "shopper's club card" to get the sale price--which stores use just to get you in the door. Take those non-perishable loss leaders and stock up on them when they are at bargain-basement prices and put them with your stored emergency food supply. Here is an example of what I found at one local store today:
  • Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice 2/$3
  • Chunky Soup $1 each
  • Store brand 18 ounce peanut butter $1 each
  • Store brand jam $1 each

So for $16 I was able to add an assortment of items that will make at least a dozen meals if you add in a little bread for the peanut butter and jelly. Yesterday on a run to Costco I picked up a giant box of oatmeal for $6.59 and a 25 pound bag of rice for $16. The oatmeal could provide more than a couple of month's worth of breakfasts for an average person, and the rice could last an average person more than a couple of months as well.

Stocking your emergency food pantry doesn't need to be expensive if you take the time to gather stuff up slowly as it comes on sale. Here's some of the things I consider when looking at loss leaders:

  • The food needs to be easy to prepare. Since the food will be used in an emergency when time/water/facilities may be scarce, I don't want to have to put together a bunch of complicated ingredients to make a meal. I want to be able to pop a top and eat!
  • The food needs to be non-perishable, since it will be stored for months with your emergency stuff.
  • The food needs to be relatively nutritious. Soup, peanut butter, juice, canned fish, and items like these are more nutritious than, say soda pop, crackers that are orange and look like fish, cookies, etc.
  • The food has to be things that we will eat and can therefore be rotated into our usual food supply. Granted we only eat canned soup as a last minute fill in, preferring homemade soup, and granted I have a preference for natural peanut butter and fresh squeezed juices, these items can still be used in baking, when putting together a big meal for a group, or as an emergency fill in when we run out of the items that we normally eat.
  • The food has to be professionally canned or preserved. Many people can their own foods to hold them over the winter which is great, but the reason I choose professionally canned foods is because some of the food in our emergency supply gets rotated to the food banks in the city (which do not accept home canned items). I also don't want anything stored in glass that we will be relying on in a disaster, and some of these things end up in dishes that we cook for community/work/church potlucks so we don't want to take a risk of providing food that could have been poorly preserved (and known forever for making friends, co-workers, and community residents sick).
  • The food has to be cheap. "On sale" isn't good enough. The price has to be at least half, or even lower, of what the normal retail price for the item would be. You need to know your prices because you can't always trust what certain stores put on the tags as their "regular" price, but loss leaders are usually highly discounted which encourages you to come into the store to do your shopping (where many other things you need may be higher priced...thus the need for a shopping strategy).

Starting, or adding to your emergency food reserves doesn't need to be difficult or expensive. Adding just a couple of inexpensive cans of food each week, purchased out of your regular shopping budget, will eventually provide you a big batch of emergency food--which you will be ever grateful for when, not if, a disaster happens.

No comments:

Post a Comment