Last week’s discussion about coupons leads me to a discussion on how to make the best use of your new stock pile of groceries in your pantry – and in my case under my bed and in my closet. I call this the ability to shop from my pantry. The kids use up the last of the ketchup? No problem, there are three more bottles on the top shelf of the pantry along with mustard and mayonnaise.
I have made the mistake of buying items because they were cheap, only to have them go bad before we could use them. I’m a little wiser when stocking up and check the best by date. If that bottle of ketchup is best before next summer, how many bottles will we use before then? I also need to have an idea of how many bottles are already in the pantry and buy accordingly. If it’s an amazing deal, I still may buy more than we need and pass them on to my family or food banks.
By matching coupons with sale items, I stock up on items we use at their lowest price. The ability to shop from my pantry allows me to use that stock pile until the item goes on sale again.
As food prices rise, I stop seeing those “really good prices”. For example, I used to stock up on flour every November or December because it would go on sale for 50 cents for a five pound bag. I haven’t seen that in a long time. It still goes on sale at that time of the year, but more like $1.50 for the same bag, but it seems to go on sale for that price more often. I also don’t see as many coupons for flour. Consequently, I buy fewer bags of flour throughout the year. One strategy to offset my flour purchases is to grind whole wheat to make my own flour, which is also healthier. I’m still using white flour for much of our cookie baking, but it works for us.
What strategies do you use to keep your food costs down?