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Help please. Where/How to start....meal planning,"stock-piling", oh my!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
So, we spend too much money on food. I have cut expenses, by cutting out most organic food, as we don't live near a Whole Foods or Costco-just our little ole co-op. For health reasons, I really should be eating only organic animal products.

We do not have a deep freeze, though I want one! I have been looking at sales and craigslist, but am leary about buying a used freezer due to energy usage.

I hate to cook. Dh is a much better cook, but currently, I am the one with more time to do it. Dh isn't fond of meal planning,and thinks stockpiling is only for people in rural areas(generally-if I tried to engage him more, I'm sure he would give me a more educated opinion).

I want to tackle a lot....what would you do...how would you start?

Thank you!!
post #2 of 15
On mealplanning -- I know, it's sooo not fun, but it really does make a difference. When I have a meal plan, I am so much more likely to stick with it than grab something convenient at the grocery store or takeout.

I usually sit down to meal plan, and feel very daunted, and here are a few things that have helped.

1) Type out all your meal plans, so you can look over what you've planned before.

2) Set a night for a type of meal -- like Monday's crockpot night, Tuesday's pasta night, Wednesday's stir fry night. I try to do a slow cooker meal on Wednesday's because I have class, and then if I am running late at least I know dinner is made.

3) Harness the power of roast chicken! It's great, because it can be roast w/ sides one night, soup the next, and pot pie the next.

Oops, DS just woke up

HTH!
post #3 of 15
Blessed Mommy,

Good luck with your plans. You may want to check out this thread about food storage http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1020179 as a place to start. There are many threads here at MDC about food storage. Each one has it's own "flavor". The link above has a post in it that has links to some other food storage threads on MDC.

The one I mentioned is one I started. I tend to call it "food storage" instead of "stock piling". Stock piling has a bit of a negative connotation because you rarely hear about stock piling in the news unless it is associated with the most recent Davidian Branch mass murder or whatever.

I've talked to alot of people about food storage, and sometimes people roll their eyes, or make comments to indicate it is weird. But most people recognize that with our economy the way it is, that food storage, stock piling or whatever you call it, is necessary as a way to protect ourselves from serious economic crisis. It is normal human nature to protect yourself and your family, so you should talk to your husband from that perspective, and see if you can get him on board for a certain number of months worth of food. Some people have 3, 6, 9, 12, and many more months worth of food.
Do what you can afford, and what you can to get your husband hooked into. From there he will get it when you have an ice storm, tornado or major power outage in your city for any length of time. From there he may be interested in preparing even more, and may take some of the burden from you.

Good luck!
post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed mommy View Post
So, we spend too much money on food. I have cut expenses, by cutting out most organic food, as we don't live near a Whole Foods or Costco-just our little ole co-op. For health reasons, I really should be eating only organic animal products.

We do not have a deep freeze, though I want one! I have been looking at sales and craigslist, but am leary about buying a used freezer due to energy usage.

I hate to cook. Dh is a much better cook, but currently, I am the one with more time to do it. Dh isn't fond of meal planning,and thinks stockpiling is only for people in rural areas(generally-if I tried to engage him more, I'm sure he would give me a more educated opinion).

I want to tackle a lot....what would you do...how would you start?

Thank you!!
I would start out by hanging out in the Meal Planning forum here at MDC for a bit to learn about meal planning. Before you can start successfully stockpiling (and I mean to not waste money and food and time), you have to know exactly what a typical month of eating looks like. It doesn't have to be the same thing every month, but you need to know what you *really* consume. A lot of people just start stockpiling because they are panicked or because they think it's the next cool thing. It's serious business and you can end up wasting a *lot* more money unless you plan.

I would spend a month writing down everything you eat. I would also spend it writing down everything you waste or throw away. Then you set a goal to have a certain supply in your pantry and work toward that slowly as you can afford it. Keep in mind that one of the costs of stockpiling is buying appropriate storage for those items. Once you have met that goal (including the proper storage of it), then you set a new goal and work toward it.

I would never go out and buy a supply of just one ingredient. Think of them as packaged deals. That is, don't go buy a year's worth of rice... think about how you use rice over the course of a month (pilaf, plain, pudding, etc.) and work on a month's supply to make all the types of rice you make. That might include broth, dehydrated veggies, spices, frozen veggies, etc. Once you have a month's supply of that, move on. Perhaps you like spaghetti and meat sauce. Work on getting all the supplies for that dish for a month, then move on. See what I mean? A year's worth of flour will do you no good if you don't have ALL the supplies that you need on hand. A month's worth of canned tomatoes is worthless unless you have all of the ingredients for what it is used.

We have a stockpiling tribe here and lots of threads in F&F on stockpiling. Do a search on F&F on stockpiling and join in the discussion. Good luck!
post #5 of 15
If your hubby isn't really on board yet, why not start with just buying a couple extra items each week. Instead of one bag of flour, buy 2 and store the second, for example. Oil, sugar, spices, pastas, rice, frozen veggies,e tc. (especially if you find a sale or a coupon) Start with showing him how nice it is to not suddenly be out of something that you need.

Maybe you can build from there if he sees what a smart idea it is.
post #6 of 15
Velochic has great advice. However, if you happen to find something on sale, that you know you use (tomatoes, mac and cheese, ect) there is no reason why you shouldn't buy enough for 1 month.

Meal planning is the best idea. If you already eat certain types of food, you may be able to short cut this a bit. We eat certain foods on certain days, with a 2 week rotating schedule, so that means we will eat the exact same thing every 2 weeks. The vegetables and fruits may be different, based on what is in season, but the meals remain the same pretty much.

Certain foods are almost always the same (oatmeal, almonds, raisins and milk in the mornings). Again, if there is a sale on almonds, why not take advantage of that? It just depends on how well you know your eating style.

And you may want to do some reading by people like Sharon Astyk http://sharonastyk.com/ who writes about depletion and abundance (aka food storage). She also has online classes going on right now. Food Storage covers accessing and starting your food storage, getting containers, talking with friends, family and community.
Adapting in Place covers just as it says, concentrates on helping people find a way through coming events where they are now - or perhaps at a family site that they are familiar with. Sharon puts up blog posts on her site which have to do with her classes, so everyone can take advantage. So if you can't take her classes, you can still absorb some of her informtion.

I took a food storage class, and I am at the beginning of learning to store food, but I really learned quite a bit from Sharon. I recommend her site to everyone I know who is starting on the road to food storage.

Good luck!
post #7 of 15
And many hours later, I'm back to finish my post.

I really had no idea that stockpiling was at all controversial until MDC. I've stockpiled for about a year and half now, simply because I really got into using coupons. I buy a bunch of coupons every week, save them, and use them when something is on sale. For example: shampoo goes on sale B1G1 free. It's $4/ bottle. If I have 6 @1.50/1 coupons, I'll buy 6 bottles, and up paying $3 for 6 bottles of shampoo.

I only stockpile stuff I've used regularly, unless I can get it free w/ Qs (happens quite a bit), then I get it and donate it to the Food Pantry.

A new way I'm trying to stockpile this year is from my garden. Last year was our first year with a garden, so we didn't store much, but this year I'm really hoping to freeze/store a good supply of tomatoes, onions, herbs, carrots, green beans, broccoli, and peas.

We're certainly not rural, solidly suburban. Our stockpile hardly takes up much room -- one 6' x 9' my husband built and one 6' x 3' we purchased. We also have a deep freezer we got off freecycle. I too was worried about electricity consumption, but it really didn't seem to add much to our bill. I think that is because we keep it filled (if not with food than with containers filled with ice) and open it no more than once per day.

And, I meant to add more meals you with can do with a roast chicken:

chicken tacos/burritos/enchalidas
buffalo chicken dip
chicken cesear salad
chicken stir fry
-
post #8 of 15
About getting your husband on board... well, you don't really have to. I'm not saying to deceive him - I'm saying that meal planning doesn't have to be lock-step we're having this Monday, this Tuesday etc. Putting the breaks on buying what you want, when you want is a difficult mental jump for many people. If you look in the fridge and see what you have, then check out the sale fliers and come up with a rough idea of what you'll eat that week, that is meal planning too and it doesn't make anyone feel deprived, which leads to the bad feelings and resentment that comes with "budgeting" "cutting back" or yes, even "meal planning."

As for starting to stockpile, if something is on sale and you use it, buy two (or four, or whatever). You might as well. You don't have to call it your stockpile or food storage or zombie defense strategy , just call it food. Like I sort of hinted in the last paragraph, people get hung up on labels because labels come with baggage. So don't use labels.
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamayarn View Post
As for starting to stockpile, if something is on sale and you use it, buy two (or four, or whatever). You might as well. You don't have to call it your stockpile or food storage or zombie defense strategy , just call it food. Like I sort of hinted in the last paragraph, people get hung up on labels because labels come with baggage. So don't use labels.
I always think of it as smart shopping. Most EVERYTHING I buy is on sale and hopefully combined with a coupon. So when a product I use is on sale I get out my coupons and load up. That way I always have a supply of the item and I never have to pay full price. I have saved tons of $$ that way and always have a nice full pantry and deep freezer. Although I do like the idea of calling it my zombie defense strategy. It has a nice ring to it.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zach'smom View Post
I always think of it as smart shopping. Most EVERYTHING I buy is on sale and hopefully combined with a coupon. So when a product I use is on sale I get out my coupons and load up. That way I always have a supply of the item and I never have to pay full price. I have saved tons of $$ that way and always have a nice full pantry and deep freezer. Although I do like the idea of calling it my zombie defense strategy. It has a nice ring to it.
:
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you, thank you,thank you!!!

I so appreciate the tips, links, and perspective you've all given me. All very helpful!

Question about coupons....how does one "buy coupons?" Are there coupons available for health food? I have usually only used coupons for non-food items. Is there a whole cool coupon world out there, that I am totally clueless about? Do please fill me in!

Again, thanks!
post #12 of 15
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post #14 of 15
me three!! :
post #15 of 15
I'm new to this too - but I agree with the idea of not getting locked in. I write down the 5-6 meals for which we have all the ingredients and post it on the fridge.

That way we are not locked in to "chicken tonight, beef on Sunday." Just knowing what the options are makes dinner so much easier! And we can pick whichever meal sounds good each night.

I include the starch and veggies too. Sometimes the sides get switched between meals, but that's ok. I cross them off through the week.
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