Food Storage Idea

There’s a really good conversation about food storage over at MMW and I want to throw one more idea out there, because it hadn’t occurred to me until recently that the best place to do my food storage buying was the most expensive grocery store in town.

In our area, Randall’s is the Fancy, Overpriced Grocery Store. But, like every other Fancy, Overpriced Grocery Store I’ve known, they have a few items each week that are steals. (It is my understanding that these things are actually sold at or below cost to get people in the door.)

So I’ve been running into Randall’s once per week and, exercising immense self control to stay away from the prepared Indian sauces and imported olives, buying whatever they are giving away. Lots of it. Here are some recent items:

cans of pineapple, 25 cents
cans of diced tomatoes, 25 cents
boxes of cereal, one dollar

I usually buy 20-50 of whatever item is on sale. Fortunately, we have lots of room to stow these things in closets. Over the long run, this should save us money (since I buy 20 boxes of cereal for 20$ at once instead of buying a few boxes each week at 2-3$ each), too.

And–best of all–we have food storage that my kids will actually eat! So while some of you are trying to sell your children on the merits of pinto bean fudge that you spent an hour making, I’ll be reading a book while my kids eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch straight out of the box.

26 comments for “Food Storage Idea

  1. Julie M. Smith
    May 14, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    BTW, I know the pinto bean fudge thing at MMW was a joke. (At, least, I sincerely hope it was. . .) But there are merits to storing what you normally eat and cook.

  2. Eric Boysen
    May 14, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    I agree, but what I like to eat does not store well. It sounds like you have found a great way to beat the stores at there own game–as long as everyone doesn’t do it.

  3. Researcher
    May 14, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Most of us don’t have the will power that Julie does. I go into the store for a couple gallons of milk and come out with milk, bread, yogurt, orange juice, lemonade, bananas, a head of lettuce, a roast on sale and carrots to cook with it, a pound of mozzarella, some pepperoni, green peppers, fig bars, a loaf of day old french bread for french toast, chili powder since I just remembered I’m out, a couple new kinds of baby food, brown rice cereal for babies? okay – looks good, a cake mix and frosting and birthday candles since someone has a birthday in June, cupcake papers while I’m at it… I think you get the picture.

    I used to combine coupons with “cherry picking” (shopping the specials) at a store when we lived in San Diego but there aren’t any stores like that where we live now. Oh well, shopping at Aldi makes up for it.

  4. makakona
    May 14, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    i’ve been in two wards who has made the pinto bean fudge for emergency preparedness fairs. :\

  5. makakona
    May 14, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    i’ve been in two wards who have made the pinto bean fudge for emergency preparedness fairs. :\

  6. JKS
    May 14, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Around here all the stores have “specials” and it is twice as much to buy something NOT on sale. So I try to only buy when things are on sale. That is the only way I grocery shop. It is annoying. I have to comb the entire store to buy things only when they are a good price. I feel pressured to go to another grocery store before that sale ends. So I’d like to buy strawberries, broccoli, chicken, milk and bread. But one store has milk and broccoli on sale, and one store has strawberries and chicken on sale. Which do I pick? ANd it KILLS me to pay $4 for milk when I know it is on sale for $2.50 at another grocery store. So I never get everything I need.
    Last night I went to stock up on Cinn. Toast Crunch for $1. They were out. Raincheck. But I did get 10 pack fruit snacks for $1 and good icecream for $3 and boneless chicken breasts for $1.77/lb and the really good Country Time pink lemonade with 1/2 sugar (my new favorite diet drink) for $3 each container (10 qts). I was quite happy.
    It would go so much faster if I could just throw everything in my cart.
    Why do they have to change the prices by 40% every week?

  7. JKS
    May 14, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    BTW, I thought the latest food storage directive was to try to get 3 months extra of food your family eats. So stocking up on stuff you use when it is on sale is the best way to do that.

  8. May 14, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    It takes a while to get into the rhythm, but that’s basically how I do my grocery shopping. I generally get dairy, produce, and a large amount of the two or three things that are on sale (they’re called “loss leaders”). My pantry stays stocked and I save money in the long run. I used to just concentrate on canned goods, pasta, and cereal, but now I also do stuff like shredded cheese in bags–it freezes well–or cream cheese bricks (when they’re on sale for $1.00 I buy at least five or six) that have a later expiration date and can hang out in the fridge for a few months. Sales tend to rotate seasonally, so you can stock up on baked beans and condiments during the summer, baking supplies in December, etc. We have a small apartment and not a big budget, but we usually have pantry stuff for a few months’ worth of meals on hand.

  9. May 14, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    My wife has been shopping this way among several local supermarkets for several years now.

    She’ll occasionally come home with 9 boxes of cheerios, or a whole stack of fruit cups.

  10. May 15, 2008 at 12:30 am

    I was also going to point out that I’ve sometimes found good deals on canned goods, dried fruit, and cereal at my local drugstore. They don’t sell many groceries, but their pantry section often has better prices than the grocery store. Same holds true for stores like K-Mart or Target (the kind that’s not a grocery store)–it’s worth checking out their food sections.

  11. Peter LLC
    May 15, 2008 at 7:07 am

    Where I live the stores all seem to have a more or less explicit policy of “Items for sale in household quantities only,” which, given the size of the average European household, apparently means no more than ten of any one item. I have actually been prevented from buying more than that on a couple of occasions, once when I purchased four three-packs “Because 4×3=12, which is more than ten; please read our policy, thank you very much.” Argh!

  12. MAC
    May 15, 2008 at 8:45 am

    I grew up in the urban northeast in a large family. It was a Saturday morning ritual to get up early and make a round of 6 to 8 supermarkets. My mom had a prepared yellow legal pad list, with a stack of store/sale specific coupons paper clipped to each one. We would hit the door and my mom and each of 3 or 4 kids would grab a cart and a stack of coupons and spread out to collect our items and rendezvous back at checkout. One of us would wait at the door with the carts while she went to get the cart and then we were off to the next store.

    It was like the miracle of the double coupon (plus the store specials, manufacturer coupons and price matching policies). I can still remember one instance of pulling THREE carts of groceries through the checkout line at Pathmark, my mom handing over a $20 bill and waiting for change. We used to joke that she was silently planning the one magical grocery trip where she pulled away from the checkout counter with a full cart and paying nothing or even receiving a refund.

    Now I can’t buy anything at the store without comparing the price per unit weight/volume.

  13. May 15, 2008 at 10:06 am

    That sounds like a great idea, Julie. Unfortunately, where I am, grocery stores (or, at least, ones I’m willing to shop at) don’t have sales, don’t even have loss leaders (although they have amazing imported olives and French dried fruit). And, frankly, I’m not willing to eat a lot of what gets stored.

    My wife did take a trip out of the city recently, and stocked up on cereal at Trader Joes. (Seriously, we have like 10 boxes in our moderate-sized apartment.) I remember, growing up, my mom would clip coupons and look at newspaper ads and hit two or three stores to get all of our food, but, because the grocery stores we frequent don’t have sales or coupons or ads, we don’t do that.

  14. Mark B.
    May 15, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Actually, Fairway has loss leaders–try the good steaks (porterhouse, filet mignon) when they’re on sale at $5.95/lb. That sounds high for you $1.99/lb ground beef folks, but it beats the $19.95/lb (or higher) regular price.

    How much sense does it make to drive around to several grocery stores, burning $4/gallon gasoline, pumping out two pounds of CO2 for every pound of gasoline you burn, just to save a few bucks on groceries?

    Finally, isn’t “$20” read “twenty dollars,” even in Texas? I know it’s not logical, for the cents sign to follow the number and the dollar sign to precede it, but where are we without tradition?

  15. May 15, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Really? Even its 74th Street location? That’s great. I actually do most of my shopping on the southern side of that Fairway, with the vegetables, cheeses, olives, etc. We now do fish and milk from the local farmer’s market (and now that it’s almost summer, we’ll do veggies from the CSA), and try to do meat from the local butcher. But we found that, once we got over our laziness, trekking down to Fairway once a week with a list saved us a ton of money from trudging four blocks to the Gourmet Garage every day or two, and Fairway’s food is at least as good. Even without loss leaders (that I’ve ever noticed), just a list and a once-a-week trip saved us a ton of money.

  16. MAC
    May 15, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Mark B.

    Depends on how far apart the grocery stores are, doesn\’t it?

    \”even in Texas?\” You lost me.

  17. Mark B.
    May 15, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Sam, I don’t know about that Fairway. I shop the one in Red Hook.

  18. Julie M. Smith
    May 15, 2008 at 11:33 am

    “How much sense does it make to drive around to several grocery stores, burning $4/gallon gasoline, pumping out two pounds of CO2 for every pound of gasoline you burn, just to save a few bucks on groceries?”

    Definitely should be a consideration. Fortunately, my Randall’s is three blocks from my house and I can’t go anywhere without passing it. If only there were a Sun Harvest near here . . .

  19. Lei
    May 15, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Pinto bean fudge… lol! YUMMY!

    I am finally catching on to what our family will actually eat in an emergency. I\’ve done a lot of experimenting (and highly recommend that) with the smorgasbord offered at the cannery, so I know what\’s worth my time and money there.

    Thanks for the tip on Randall\’s – I rarely go in there!

  20. May 15, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    “How much sense does it make to drive around to several grocery stores, burning $4/gallon gasoline, pumping out two pounds of CO2 for every pound of gasoline you burn, just to save a few bucks on groceries?”

    Considering that my wife saves our household well over $100 per month and only drives about 3 extra miles… quite a bit of sense, I’d say.

  21. meems
    May 15, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    It’s a great idea, Julie. I’m going to try it.

    My problem is lack of willpower in those highend types of grocery stores, though. And as luck would have it, when we’re home in the States, the store that is most convenient and nearest my house is one of the gorgeous fancy ones. sigh.

  22. Adam Greenwood
    May 15, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    NB, Walmart groceries will usually price match ads. They don’t have everything there, but it does save running around.

  23. Ola Senor
    May 15, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Grocery stores, in our area at least, tend to run a 12 week cycle. So if cereal is on sale this week, it will be again in 3 months. A 3 month supply of an item is not that burdensome to obtain (excepting dairy, meats and veggies).

    Example: Our kids love Capri sun. It is too expensive normally, but every few months it will go on sale for $1 a box. We then buy 20-30 boxes and store it. We get the flavored water kind too, so it can double as an emergency drinking water supply.

    If I go to the grocery store, i don’t really make a meal list first, I just buy what is one sale and figure it out from there. This was bad as a bachelor, where hot dogs at 50 cents a pack led to hot dog spaghetti, hot dog omelets, and hot dog tortilla wraps. Spaghetti sauce on sale? SPaghetti, homemade pizza and Spaghetti sauce with rice!

    My wife doesn’t care for my inventiveness, but I think it is fun (Sale Item A, plus cheap item B, plus a little of extra item C – Bon Appetit!)

  24. Marianne
    May 17, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    When pinto bean fudge was announced as the exciting thing last week at Enrichment I chose to leave early.

    If I’m living on my food storage, I’m probably not going to be wondering how to make fudge out of it.

  25. May 22, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    You know, pinto bean fudge is actually remarkably good. Someone gave me a square recently and asked me if I could guess the ingredients and I couldn’t – it really does taste like regular fudge.

  26. September 1, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    M&M has started a new group blog about food storage topics. Come check us out and participate!

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