Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stocking up when you don't have a lot of space or money

OK, so you have decided that you'd like to stock up but you don't have a lot of space and you don't have the money to go and buy the store out.  I'll tell you how I did it over time.  Please do not beat yourself up if your circumstances are different.  I know that some people have marginal housing and/or very little resources or space for storage (or freezer space)--other circumstances can also make this a hassle or not very doable.  If you've managed to get around those obstacles, I'd love to hear about it because honestly, I don't know what I would do.  (Unlike some PF bloggers, I'm not good at the "you should just" advice.  I'm good at the "this is what I did/what worked for you?" thing.)

First, I didn't fill my pantry shelves overnight, or even over the course of a month or two.  It took a while.  So please don't think that you need a lot of extra cash to do this and that it has to be done ASAP.  You don't and it doesn't, double-pinky swear.

Basically, I watch the sales.  If things that I like to eat and that I use go on sale, I buy as many as I can (within reason--if I can afford a hundred of them, I won't get that many.  First, it's rude to the other customers and second, even though I have a couple of pantry areas I just don't have that kind of room).  I don't aim to get everything I need, just the things that go on sale or that are at a very good price.  So, for example, a few months ago the store near me had 28-oz. cans of tomatoes (diced, crushed, whole, you name it) on sale for 44 cents.  I have never seen the prices that low--they are often on sale for 10 for $10.  So I got about 30 of various kinds.  If cheese goes on sale or I find a very good price, I'll buy it.  If it's a block of cheese, I'll shred it at home, put it in a freezer bag, and freeze it.  It's ready to use whenever I need it for cooking.  (If I keep blocks of sharp cheddar in the fridge, they don't last the day so I tend to shred and freeze what I buy and use it for things like chili or tacos or omelettes or other things.  Eventually, my pantry and freezer are fully stocked.

Another thing I do is use up everything I have and turn it into something else.  If I make a roast chicken, I take the bones and make stock and either can it or freeze it.  I make vegetable stock from the ends and peelings of fresh vegetables and herbs I have.  I'll freeze my leftovers or turn them into something else to eat later and freeze it (soup, casserole, sauce, etc.).  Stretch your supplies and you don't need to replenish them.

I don't go hog wild--with the exception of the 45 cent cans of tomatoes, I usually get enough to last me until the next sale.

I have a second bedroom and no roommates, so I have a set of metal wire shelves set up in my second bedroom for my pantry/canning supplies area.  I also have a pantry cabinet in my kitchen.  I keep a deep freeze in my second bedroom as well.  If I had a roommate, I'd re-purpose the linen closets as a pantry--you can keep towels and sheets in storage boxes under the bed.  Look for space that is not used and that is reasonably accessible (if it's a pain to get to, you'll never use the stuff).

As I said, I don't go overbard, jokes my friends make about my being ready for the apocalypse not withstanding. (I'm not ready for the apocalypse.  I'm ready for last-minute dinner parties and the odd nor'easter.)  I eat what I stock up on (don't hoard--even canned goods will go off and not taste that good if you keep them for too long) and I stock up gradually when things go on sale or when I get a bunch of things from the CSA, from my garden (ha! right) or a friend or relative's garden.


  1. I keep forgetting that you can freeze cheese!! Durrr!

    I think I will keep some basic dry/canned staples in the house when I live by my onesies. As a student, there were times when I ate everything in the cupboard to save money. I did get a bit of a reputation for eating weird combinations of food, but hey, saves buying extras when you don't have the spare cash!!

    Getting while it's cheap is the key. Also, make sure you know WHAT you have so that you don't buy more than you can use before it goes off!

  2. Ive never frozen cheese but I may freeze a little and see how it comes out x

  3. I don't 30 of something like tomato products is extreme. Cheese doesn't last long in my refrigerator either. I live alone but cannot imagine where it goes! That is how I started stocking up, often as little as two extra cans.

    Like Bryallen, I have eaten strange combinations. Sometimes, I am just finishing off a few things in the refrigerator or have a taste for the odd combination.

    I write the date on the top with an indelible marker and on the front so I don't accidentally shuffle something to the back. Plus, the print is soooo small.

  4. Im definitely going to have to do this when we move into our house. With so many other expenses, it will probably be via the slow and steady method (although wouldn't it be great to have $1000 just to go shopping and totally fill the pantry?). Great post!

  5. Great post! I'll stock up on sale items as well, but I think, like you, there's a BIG difference between stocking up and hoarding. lol! When the spaghetti sauce we use goes on sale, i'll buy 10, same as pasta, etc... all within reason. You have a great blog, forget how I found you but i've added you to my blogroll! :)

  6. Thanks, Carla--I'm glad you like it. I checked out your blog and it's great--I added you to the blogroll. :)