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Building Up A Well-Stocked Pantry & Long-Term Food Storage Supply

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Building up a well-stocked and functional food storage system is a key skill and resource anyone should be developing, whether you’re a prepper or a homesteader… or not! Having one month, one year or 25 years of emergency food storage is a good idea for so many reasons.

Canned food arranged on pantry shelves.

Having long-term emergency food supply doesn’t mean you’re buying and storing staple items in bulk, canning your own meat or beans, preserving all your eggs, freezing or freeze drying milk, or even raising and butchering your own meat and growing all your veggies (even though that might be your eventual goal).

Rather, having a long-term food supply available to you means you will save money and time, you’ll have greater food security and create less waste in your household.

Not to mention, as in present times, if/when a crisis arises, you will be prepared and will not need to panic shop when food sources are slim. As we discussed in this post on being prepared for an emergency, a long-term food supply is a significant portion of that preparedness.

In this post we’re sharing both HOW to build up your long term food storage and WHY it’s important to do so. You don’t have to be overwhelmed with preserving your own food.

Watch the two videos below as Josh and Carolyn share their key tips and strategies for how to build up your own food storage system and why. The tips they share are worth hearing whether you’re ready to jump in with both feet, or you want to start slow and steady. They’ll share their best advice and strategies, especially when you’re on a budget.

Whether you just want to lengthen the time in between grocery store trips from one week, to one month, or one month to every few months, these tips will definitely help.

Curious what our long-term food storage supply looks like for a family of 12? Check out our full pantry tour complete with a video for an inside look!

10 Steps to a Well Stocked Pantry

If you’re motivated to build up your pantry and long-term food storage, here are ten steps we suggest you consider BEFORE going out and buying.

  1. Don’t try to stock up all at once. You’ll waste a lot of food, you’ll waste a lot of money and you’ll end up discouraged.
  2. Start with a small goal and build up. Don’t try to stock up a whole year’s worth of food, instead, start with two weeks, then 1 month, 6 months, etc.
  3. Start with items that have a long year shelf life (or more), are inexpensive, and are easy to store such as beans and rice. NOT something you’ll need to bring home and can or preserve yourself.
  4. Get TWO full days of meals on the shelf (non-perishable) that you can just pop open the can and eat it. Make sure these meals don’t need to be cooked or heated (canned stew, crackers & peanut butter,etc.)
  5. Next, build up to having TWO WEEKS of regular meals up on your shelf. It’s like zeroing your bank account when it has $500 in it. You’re now zeroing out your food supply when you’re down to two weeks left.
  6. Before you buy any item, be sure you have a place to store it. When you buy in bulk, you’re taking the responsibility of dividing it up into individual serving sizes, which reduces the cost to you.
  7. Start eating your produce when it’s in season. Produce in season is ALWAYS cheaper than produce that’s out of season needing to be delivered from other regions.
  8. Make relationships with your local growers. Even if the economy goes haywire, your local grower is still going to need to sell their product.
  9. Once your pantry is full, then you can start figuring out how to bulk buy fresh foods and learning to preserve them yourself instead of buying it from the grocery store.
  10. Finally, start growing and preserving all your own food.

Why Should You Stock Up on Food at Home?

  1. Saves money
  2. Saves time
  3. Food security
  4. Less Waste

Buying in Bulk and Stocking Up Saves You Money

When you buy in bulk, you end up saving money because the per-unit amount is less. You save money by NOT driving to the grocery store every few days or once a week. And you won’t spend money on un-planned for/impulse buys at the grocery store.

When we talk about storing up food, we’re talking about food you know your family will eat. Don’t bother buying those emergency preparedness food kits, or freeze-dried foods/survival food like MREs where you just add water.

Sure those foods are great, but you’ll end up spending a fortune on something you really won’t want to eat if an emergency never arises. It’s much better to stock up on food with a long shelf life that you’ll eat throughout the year while continually keeping your stock replenished.

Having a Well-Stocked Pantry Means You’re Saving Time on Weekly Tasks

Fewer trips to and from the grocery store means extra time. You’ll also save time by not having to load and unload the kids to and from the car. Less time creating that weekly grocery list.

Sure some might argue that you’re spending MORE time preparing for storage, but this doesn’t have to be the case. When you get to a place you’re ready to preserve your own food (such as canning, fermenting or dehydrating foods) then the extra time will be welcomed.

Being Prepared in Case of an Emergency or Natural Disaster

Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, etc. Emergency situations can’t always be predicted, so it’s a great idea to be prepared for when the unexpected happens.

The food on the grocery store shelves will go fast in times of emergency, be prepared ahead of time so you don’t miss out or go without. And don’t forget, proper water storage is also essential for emergency preparedness.

This is even great in times of minor emergencies (illness, job loss, financial strain, etc.) when regular grocery store trips aren’t an easy option. Having food rations on hand, whether it’s dried meals, canned goods or frozen food can really help in times of added stress.

Because the dollar is losing its value, something bought today is saving you money on food bought tomorrow (or next year). You get to fight the inflation on food costs by buying in bulk ahead of time.

Less Waste From Packaging

Every bit of the packaging, on smaller quantities of food, has an energy cost, a labor cost, etc., all bumping up the price per unit of the product. 

Less wasted food. We’ve all been there, you only need to cook 2 cups of rice, but your package had 2.5 cups. So you cook up the entire bag, package up that rice in the refrigerator to eat later, and, many times, end up throwing the rice away a few days later. When you buy in bulk, you don’t feel obligated to “use up” the rest of the package, just because it’s there.

5 Rules for Stocking Up Your Long-Term Food Storage.

  1. Stock up on what you WILL and DO actually eat. 
    • If you don’t eat pickled asparagus, don’t stock up on it! It will inevitably sit on your pantry shelf for years to come, never getting consumed (essentially throwing your money away). 
    • Stock up on items you and your family will be excited about eating, this is super important! Think about the foods you enjoy on a regular basis and start there.
  2. Stock up on items that make a quick meal from your pantry. 
    • Things like pasta sauce, dry pasta and canned veggies. These items can quickly be cooked and tossed together to make a complete meal.
    • This will save you money on days you don’t feel like cooking because you won’t run to the grocery store for a quick convenience meal, and you won’t order out from a restaurant. This will free up more money for the following month to keep building your food supply.
  3. Prepare your storage space and/or storage method before you stock up.
    • Know how you’re going to store everything you buy so you have a place to properly store it all. There’s nothing worse than buying 100 pounds of potatoes, only to come home and realize you don’t know where you’re going to store them all.
    • Don’t feel like it has to be the ideal storage space, you can still find places to make long-term storage work, but have a plan.
  4. Change to a producer mindset: Start learning to buy in bulk, and grow and raise your own food.
    • Again, think first about the ingredients you use all the time and start there.
    • For example, don’t buy bread in bulk, instead, bring in wheat and make your own bread. You’ll end up with a better and fresher product and it will save you a lot of money.
    • Buying in bulk really helps prepare you to be a homesteader because so much of your food on the homestead comes in in bulk. You butcher an entire cow and need to preserve it quickly. You harvest all your onions and need to put them up. The plum trees are ripe and you need to preserve them before they go bad, etc.
  5. Know how long what you’re buying is going to last and plan accordingly.
    • For example, dry beans can sit on your shelf, if stored properly, for a very long time and maintain their high quality, so buying more than you’ll consume in a year isn’t an issue. However, olive oil has a short term shelf-life. It just isn’t as shelf-stable and you’ll want to buy only the amount to get you through until you need to replenish your stock. (Try pressing your own seed oil for a sustainable oil source.)

4 Methods for Stocking Up on Long-Term Food Storage

We’ve been building up our food supply for many, many years and we’ve come up with some of our favorite methods. Here’s our countdown to our number one favorite method for stocking up on food.

Method #4 – Buy More Packages

  • When you buy a package of food that will get you through a couple of days or weeks, buy an extra package or two to get yourself ahead.
  • This is a great stepping stone to working up into buying 50lbs bags of food. We can’t always start with such a large investment, but one extra package can be very affordable.
  • If you shop at Costco, or somewhere similar, sometimes you’ll find 6 packages of pasta sold together in a larger pack, but the price per unit will be smaller than if you bought each individual pack by itself. This can really help you get ahead quickly and closer to method #3.

Method #3 – Buy Bulk Packages

  • Buying in bulk saves you money because the price per unit is lower.
  • Oftentimes regular grocery stores will have a bulk-food isle. This is a great starting point.
  • Other options would be to find a bulk buying store, such as Costco or a restaurant supply store. 
  • Check your area for a local co-op store to see if they offer bulk buys.
  • Ask in local Facebook groups where people buy their food in bulk (it usually helps to be specific about what you’re looking for here). 
  • Check out Azure Standard (available nation-wide, some areas may not have deliveries nearby) – this is one of our favorite places to buy items in bulk that we don’t grow ourselves and can’t buy locally.

TIP: Be sure to have your storage method ready – more times than not you can’t just leave the bulk item in the bag for long term storage. These bags are not moisture, dirt or pest-resistant, so you’ll want to have storage bins ready ahead of time.

Method #2 – Buy Bulk From a Local Producer (In Season) and Put it Up Yourself

  • Find a local producer for meats, veggies, grains, dairy, etc. Anything you can’t grow yourself. Buying local will mean your product is fresher, many times healthier, and hasn’t had to travel as far to get to you, lowering the carbon footprint on the food production.
  • Many times entire communities will get together and truck in a large order from a farmer. This may be an option if you’re not ready to buy such a large quantity.
  • This method does, however, mean you need to be ready to preserve the food or to put it up for long-term storage. So be prepared!

Method #1 – Grow Your Own Food

  • Our very favorite method for building up a long-term food supply is to grow and preserve our own. This is the best way to stock up on food at the most affordable price. 
  • Not only will you save the most money with this method, but you’ll get the best nutrition, the best value for your money and you’ll also reap all the wonderful benefits from producing the food like being out in the fresh air!

Make no mistake, in order to make buying in bulk affordable, you have to have a strategy, you have to have a budget and it’s best to start small. As you stock up, you will have one less thing you need to buy each month, which will give you a bit more money to put toward your next bulk item purchase.

Our best advice is to start slow. Just one or two items a month will really add up over a year’s time. Do also consider seasonality when you start buying in bulk. Food is a better quality and tends to be a better price.

And finally, when making your plan to stock up, choose what cycle you’re working toward – having 1 month of food put up, having 6 months of food put up, having 3 years of food put up, etc.

Just be consistent and chip away at it one item at a time!

Josh: Hey guys, this is Josh.

Carolyn: And Carolyn.

Josh: We're Homesteading Family and welcome to this week's episode of the Pantry Chat Food for Thought. This week, we're going to be talking about building up your food storage. So starting to create a larder.

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Josh: This week, we're going to be talking about building up your food storage. So starting to create a larder, a supply of food. And this applies to you not only if you're homesteading, or wherever you're at. Even in a totally urban environment, you can build up food security for cost savings, for being prepared, for better health, a whole lot of things.

Carolyn: Lots of good reasons there.

Josh: So this is a great topic, no matter where you're at. But before we get to that, let's move on.

Carolyn: Hey, if you want to skip out on the chit-chat check the timestamps in the description and you can skip right on ahead to the main topic that you just introduced.

Josh: Absolutely.

Carolyn: So, what's going on? Pumpkins. Pumpkins are going on a lot right now. We are starting to use up some of the pumpkins, we still have quite a few here. We brought in quite a few pumpkins from the garden this year. We have a couple of different varieties of my favorite, favorite pie pumpkins.

Josh: Is that the lecturey pie?

Carolyn: The lecturey pie is one of my [crosstalk 00:02:48] favorite.

Josh: That's one of our long-term, we've stuck with that variety for a very long time, lecturey pie.

Carolyn: If you have not grown your own pie pumpkins and you're used to just seeing those things at the store, buying those little ones at the store, you might be surprised because if you get a really good variety of pie pumpkin for us, lecturey pie has done really well, they can actually be very sweet and you need to decrease the amount of sugar in recipes. So I really like that. Because you can use less of a sweetener and have really good pumpkin pie.

Josh: And that means we get it for breakfast sometimes.

Carolyn: Sometimes we get breakfast-

Josh: I like that.

Carolyn: Yeah. Pumpkin custard for breakfast. That is in that-

Josh: The breakfast casseroles.

Carolyn: ... the breakfast casserole download.

Josh: Yeah, it's a free download [crosstalk 00:03:33].

Carolyn: I hope it's in there. If it's not in there-

Josh: Favorite recipes.

Carolyn: ... kick us.

Josh: Better add it and make it six.

Carolyn: We'll put it in there.

Josh: Yeah, that should be in there.

Carolyn: But look at this, this is going to come out as a how to in the next few weeks. This is a pumpkin spice dehydrator cookie. It's like pumpkin leather but it's pumpkin spice.

Josh: I got to test it but I didn't get it with the, is that coconut?

Carolyn: Coconut on the top and it's like eating a little bit of pumpkin pie, but it's in a healthy leather form, isn't that good? And shelf stable, so you can carry this great snacks for kids and it uses maple syrup instead of any sugar. So we really, really like that. And again, if you're using your own good pumpkins you can decrease even the maple syrup.

Josh: That was really good. Sorry, but that means we have to get the tea out, we got tea brewing today.

Carolyn: Yeah, we got a special one today. This is persnickety peach chai from farmhouse teas. If you guys haven't gotten any of their teas, yet you have to go check that out.

Josh: Yep. Farmhouse, teas CM, this is great.

Carolyn: Really good. Okay. So I've been dealing with pumpkins and cooking on the wood cookstove.

Josh: These go well together.

Carolyn: They go really well together. Really good. So that's me. What have you been doing?

Josh: Winter prep. We are still basically just getting settled in for winter, finishing up some work on the barn, getting in our wood shavings that we'll use for bedding in the barn. And we still have some winter prep on the garden that got put to the side. So we're trying to finish that up, getting all our beds amended and mulched and ready for spring. Hopefully going to get to rebuilding a bean tunnel. Lot of you guys have asked for how to on that, and I actually put them too close together and a couple other technical things since I want to move one and redo it, and I'm hoping to use that opportunity to create a video for that.

Josh: So we'll see if not this fall, this spring. But I'm trying to get to that soon as we're getting the garden ready for spring. And just a lot of really getting ready for winter with that, getting ready for hunting. I'm excited about that. Taking a little bit of break, things are starting to slow down and I'll get out, do a little hunting, hopefully putting some venison in the freezer. Though this is the first year here I'll be hunting, so it's a new area for us. So we'll see.

Carolyn: Good.

Josh: See how we do.

Carolyn: Yeah, you'll do great. That'd be good. Now. I don't think we've talked about how we got new chickens.

Josh: That's right. We've got new baby chicks, egg layers, 50 of them.

Carolyn: It seems a little-

Josh: Counterintuitive?

Carolyn: ... counterintuitive, thank you to be buying your egg laying chicks in the fall. But if you really want to get the best production out of your egg layers, you want them coming into their first lay season, right at the very, very beginning of spring, late winter.

Josh: Especially for those of us in a Northern climate.

Carolyn: Yes, right. So this is to get the best use of our eggs.

Josh: And one thing I'm excited about, I haven't talked about this much, but I'm working on a whole permaculture barn precept of integrating a lot of systems in the barn and the chicken coop is moving into the barn so that they can participate in helping in some of the other systems plus, so that they've got a little better environment. And out of the coop, so these chicks are getting started in the barn.

Carolyn: In the new barn coop.

Josh: Right. So even this winter, I'll get to let them out and they can roam the barn and help us in a few different ways. So I'm really excited about-

Carolyn: That's really neat.

Josh: ... yup, what we're going be doing there. Absolutely. Alrighty, so question of the day, this is actually, we got a whole lot of questions on this topic or several anyways, and it is about Carolyn's journal. We're interested in that journal where you got it and what's in it.

Carolyn: This is my book of secrets. This is my special book. I have been recording my favorite recipes and notes and all sorts of things in here. I've got, Oh wow, I have so many amazing recipes in here. I can't even tell you. I've got years totals of like my canned amounts. I've counted up canning amounts. I have not done that the last year or two. I just canned so much that I kind of lost track. We've got things like Josh's kielbasa recipes and-

Josh: We're going to get back to that and our breakfast sausage.

Carolyn: Breakfast sausage recipes. So one day guys, I am going to get this published for you. So you can see into this. One day, that's a far out project, but I'm still filling it for now with my super special secrets. But the book itself was a gift from Josh. It came from Colonel Littleton in Tennessee. They do fine leather work, and I love it. You can see it's kind of well used and beat up. It's got stains all over it and everything. Really nice. The only drawback I'd say on this is that it doesn't lay flat. If you're in the kitchen, that's a little hard.

Josh: They're internal, we've we've got a couple of these and these booklets are a little tough. Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah. They're very nice, and it'll last a really long time.

Josh: Colonel Littleton's if you look them up, great small leather manufacturing company.

Carolyn: So anyways, that's it.

Josh: Cool, thanks for sharing. I wanted to share one comment by somebody though about your talk a couple of weeks ago, I think it was. On the how to put three homemade meals on the table. And this just summed up something we've talking about efficiency and production a little bit here and there. And chocolate box cottage. It sounds like a fun place, you'd like that.

Carolyn: Oh yeah.

Josh: Chocolate box cottage.

Carolyn: You know who chocolate bucks cottage is, don't you?

Josh: Oh, no, I don't.

Carolyn: You don't know?

Josh: I don't, I'm in the dark.

Carolyn: That is Michelle, who is our moderator. One of our wonderful trustee moderators-

Josh: I did not know that. Hey Michelle, now I know.

Carolyn: ... and our exclusive bread group for a class. In fact, I was going to give her a shout out today because she just started a brand new YouTube channel and she has great content. You guys, getting a YouTube channel started is really hard.

Josh: It's really tough.

Carolyn: So if you guys would do her a favor and jump over, I'll put a link in to her new channel, do her a favor of subscribing to bump up that subscriber count. But you know what? You won't be disappointed because she's putting out great stuff. She's a master preserver, a master gardener and I think a certified nutritionalist. She is an amazing, amazing person. She knows her stuff and you will not be disappointed with her videos. So hop on over and give her a thumbs up. But what did she say?

Josh: No, but that was a great segue.

Carolyn: You don't even know.

Josh: I do, I know. Michelle said, "Turning our kitchen into centers of production is a key strategy." She went on to a few other things, but I just loved that thought of thinking strategically about what we're doing and building skills and building up the homestead and the kitchen really is the start. A lot of people think about homesteading and going out and growing everything, and animals. And then of course it is, that's an integral part of it producing our own. But if you don't have the skills and the strategy in the kitchen, you're going to have problems if you're out here bringing everything in and connecting that loop.

Josh: And so this was also in regards to children and having children in the kitchen and working with them. And so there's an overall strategy there. But I just thought that was a real point and good. Just a good thing, a good thought there, Michelle. It is a key strategy for the life and the things that we are all working towards.

Carolyn: Right. Yeah. And if you don't have your kitchen working, most of the rest of the homestead's not going to work, right? Because most of it comes back into the kitchen one way or another.

Josh: Well, you end up with a lot of waste. You end up with a lot of wasted effort, wasted food if you don't have a good strategy there.

Carolyn: Yeah, it's very good to take that.

Josh: And including the kids and that really adds to that.

Carolyn: It does. Good.

Josh: Cool, all right. Well, I think we can get onto main topic, building up your food storage. And basically this is just some strategy and some tips that we've employed over the years and learned to go from week to week grocery shopping, or even month to month grocery shopping, to long-term storage and security. And that's both a great thing in light of just some of our modern production systems and of an overall homestead lifestyle. It's important. It's really integral.

Carolyn: It is. It really is. And it doesn't mean that you can't go still grab a few fresh things at the store here and there, sometimes that's nice, but it's building up that base supply of food in your home, right? So, okay, first off, why would you want to stock up? Why do you want to do that if you have a grocery store just down there? For us, the grocery store is half an hour away, so that's a great start of a reason why, but for some people, the grocery store' a block over. It doesn't take that long to get there. So why would people want to stock up?

Josh: Well, number one on our list is saving yourself money. Buying in bulk, stocking up saves you money,

Carolyn: It absolutely saves money.

Josh: How?

Carolyn: How?

Josh: A couple of the ways.

Carolyn: Yeah. Well, when you buy in bulk, you end up saving money on that because it drops the per unit amount on whatever you're buying. You know, sometimes as simple as doing something like going to Costco and you can go buy a big bulk package, sometimes that means more thinking behind it, like that, buying 50 pound bags of something.

Josh: Yeah, there's some resource development there in order to do that.

Carolyn: And we'll get into that a little bit more in a minute, but you just end up saving a lot of money on the product itself. But I've got to say you also save a lot of money, there we go, save a lot of money on trips to the grocery store.

Josh: I wasn't thinking that would be [crosstalk 00:13:30].

Carolyn: I don't know if you guys are that way, but especially if I'm shopping with kids, it's like, "Oh, let's grab a snack and let's grab this." And then, "Oh, I needed that thing, I just didn't put it on the list." And wouldn't that be nice to have? It's like the obligatory extra 20 bucks at the grocery store every time I go or whatever it is. If it's Walmart might be a little more or Target or something. We don't even have one of those around here.

Josh: Not really. But thankfully [crosstalk 00:13:52].

Carolyn: Just a big save money.

Josh: Well and that thought of it, not only is it saving you dollars by getting a better price point per pound, per volume, whatever it is, and you're saving money with trips to the store that leads right into saving you time as what's number two and the time spent shopping, right? It's not as many trips to the store and-

Carolyn: Driving.

Josh: ... it's dramatically saves time. Especially if you start factoring in having kids because you're a mom, you got to take the kids with you or dad, I've plenty of times I've taken the kids in the store, whatever it is that just takes time. And you're saving yourself time figuring out your lists and going and actually picking that food up.

Carolyn: Absolutely. Okay. So the number three reason you'd want to stock up on food. is-

Josh: I like this one. Food security.

Carolyn: This is a really good one.

Josh: It really is.

Carolyn: It's really important. And we should all have a base align of food storage in our homes somewhere, just for food security.

Josh: If you've been through hurricanes, if you've been... Gosh, it's been a while it seems like since we've had a major earthquake in this country, that's disrupted, but hurricane certainly tornadoes, even the fires in California, when you start having problems, the food on the shelves go fast-

Carolyn: In the grocery store.

Josh: ... in the grocery store. And so there's just one reason right there to have food security besides just our own being stocked up in the house and the flow of life.

Carolyn: Because even outside of a big disaster like an earthquake or hurricane, we all have those moments of little disaster. We all have those emergencies. We all have job loss and all of a sudden you don't have the income coming in that you expected. There are all sorts of different things, and having that food stocked up can really help buffer the effects of that.

Josh: And here's another one that really ties back to money a little bit that a lot of people don't think about. Our dollar is continually losing value. Inflation is continually degrading the value of the dollar always. Something bought today at a good price that you can bulk up on and you don't have to buy it six months from now, that may seem small, but it's better than money in a savings account. Your money in your savings account doesn't earn anything anymore in your regular savings account. When you make a good purchase at a good price and you can hold onto that and use that out into the future, you're fighting those inflationary effects. And so for me, that's a big one. That is, it's a money saver and it's a security, it's a hedge against that.

Carolyn: Well, and anybody who's been shopping for the last few years has really seen that because the prices are going up and up, especially for good quality food.

Josh: Yep, absolutely.

Carolyn: Number four reason, I really like this one. You waste a lot less. You have a lot less waste. If you're buying in bulk or if you're producing something yourself, you're not getting all the waste from the little packages of things. Years ago, you and I started measuring some amount of our self-sufficiency by how much waste we were producing and trying to decrease that it's a great way to measure whether you're bringing in a lot of stuff or if you're producing it yourself. Because you just have a lot less waste when you produce it yourself or when you buy bulk.

Josh: And we tend to think of using less energy and less waste a lot of times in light bulbs and energy usage, that's true but every bit of that packaging has an energy costs to it. Every bit of it. Just like there's an energy cost to going back and forth to the store more times. And so, it's not only less waste in plastic, it's less waste in energy overall. And of course producing for ourselves ties into this, but the more we can buy in bulk, you're wasting less energy.

Josh: I think another one, and this is probably particular to us in a larger family is that, you can tailor when you buy in bulk and you're therefore taking your food, say your wheat or whatever it is, you can tailor it to the sizes for the meal for that day or for whatever you're cooking. So you have less tendency to over make something and not use it and let it go to waste.

Carolyn: Yeah. I like that thought. I hadn't thought of that one.

Josh: Cool. So those are our key four, there's probably some other ones we could come up with, but good reasons why it's a good idea to start down this journey of stocking up and building up and extended food storage.

Carolyn: So as we get into the particulars of how to do this, how to stock up, we've come up with five different rules that you really need to consider, follow, pay attention to, at least acknowledge before you start stocking up on food. Okay?

Josh: You want me to take it? I'm going to take it.

Carolyn: Yep.

Josh: Okay, rule number one, stock up on what you will and do actually eat.

Carolyn: This seems silly.

Josh: Don't just go buy a bunch of dried goods that are going to go in the back somewhere that you're not interested in.

Carolyn: If you don't eat canned asparagus, don't put a bunch of it on your shelf. You're not going to like it later any more than you like it now. So, just make sure that you are actually filling your shelves with things that you do eat, you want to eat, you like eating, your family will eat all of those things. And that seems so obvious to say, but so many times I've heard from people who are like, "I got all this stuff, I don't like it. What do I do with it now?

Josh: There's one went and bought a bunch of bulk stuff to have some security on the shelf for an emergency or whatever, and then only think about how useful it was. And so I don't know if we talk about it later in here, because when you do that, that fits into a rotation, right? And so you're always using your bulk stuff, just piling it in the corner.

Carolyn: If you're always eating off of your bulk supply, then that's not a problem. That's a good way to go. Okay.

Josh: Rule number two, stock up on ingredients to pantry meals first so you have a backup. Would you explain that?

Carolyn: Okay. All right. That was my note. So pantry meals, something that you can make right out of your pantry because you have all your ingredients. A classic example of that would be spaghetti. You've got your noodles, you've got your spaghetti sauce, you've got a meal. Maybe you have some canned meat ready to go and you have a meal that can come straight out of your pantry. You don't need additional ingredients.

Carolyn: Make sure that as you start stocking up, you think through a few meals that your family would eat normally and make sure you stock up on some of those things first so that you're giving yourself a backup. And this is really important because that means you will save money on going out to take out or buying the convenience meals from the grocery store, things like that at last minute moments. That'll give you more money to get more food supplies next month.

Josh: Right, absolutely. And we'll talk about ways to stock up strategy here in a minute which will help things how to do that, because that can be a challenge.

Carolyn: Yeah, it really can.

Josh: How I enter into that because the purchases are larger. And so that's hard on the budget to get started. Yep. But to keep things moving along here, rule number three, prepare your storage space and or method before you stock up.

Carolyn: Right. We spent a whole pantry chat on that last week. So go watch that one, but make sure you have something to do with the bulk amounts of food you're bringing in. Because it's as simple as that, you know?

Josh: And let me segue, it doesn't have to be perfectly ideal.

Carolyn: No, it doesn't.

Josh: So as a say, you're going to get a bunch of a winter pump, storage squash, sorry, winter pumpkins and you don't really have the ideal place for it. You can still find niches and places to that. You can buy apples in bulk and find places for it. Root crops, there's a lot of things, whether you're growing them or finding a deal and buying in bulk, you don't have to have the ideals, but you do want to plan ahead of what you're going to do. You don't want to go home and go buy 150 pounds of potatoes and then come home and figure out what to do with them

Carolyn: Right, no. Yeah, that'd be forehand. Okay. Rule number four,

Josh: Change to a producer mindset. Start learning to buy bulk and or, and it would be a and grow and raise your own food. So that you can make your own.

Carolyn: Yeah. Mostly your ingredients, right? So if you're buying things or if you're raising them, buy the ingredients to something and make your own.

Josh: And that's where you're going to have a lot of savings.

Carolyn: That's where you're going to have a lot of money savings. Instead of trying to buy bread in bulk, it's a lot more cost-effective to buy in wheat, whole wheat and make your own bread. Not only are you going to end up with a better product, you're going to end up with a fresher product in the end and it's going to be a lot, lot cheaper.

Josh: And you know, I want to say again, and we've talked about this from time to time. Buying in bulk is a great skillset for entering into the homesteading lifestyle. If you're not there yet, and you're working on transitioning and you're thinking about where you put your resources right now, how do you build skills? Buying bulk is huge. Not only does it save you money, it teaches you a skill because things are seasonal. On the farm, your meat comes in all in bulk. Your vegetables come in all in bulk. You want to buy your feed at a certain time of the year, there's so many things that happen in bigger batches and you have to learn how to produce that way and consume that way.

Josh: So even if you're not producing by buying in bulk and getting into that mindset and that skill, you're producing a lot of skills that are very conducive and needed to furthering the homesteading lifestyle.

Carolyn: Right, absolutely.

Josh: Okay, so one more.

Carolyn: Rule number five.

Josh: That's right. Know how long what you're buying is going to last and buy appropriately. Some things are going to last longer than others. So you got to consider that you probably have-

Carolyn: Yeah, if you're buying something like dry beans, those will last just fine in a bucket on your shelf for five years. You can buy a lot of dried beans and have them last a long time.

Josh: As long as they stay dry. In some environments, they may need [crosstalk 00:23:41] to be sealed or something

Carolyn: Right. But if you're buying olive oil, you don't want that sitting on your shelf for five years. It's going to go [crosstalk 00:23:50].

Josh: No matter how it is contained.

Carolyn: You need to be buying that at least every year from a good source, maybe even more often, if your storage area is not ideal. So, know what it is you're buying, know how much of it you are going to consume in it's good period and only get that amount.

Josh: Good.

Carolyn: Good.

Josh: Great. So, okay, there's some how to. Now we want to talk about ways to starting to stock up. Ways to get this going, right?

Carolyn: So this is kind of our countdown to our favorite ways. We have four ways to stock up here. And okay, number four is-

Josh: Buying-

Carolyn: ... the buying more packages.

Josh: Okay, buy more packages.

Carolyn: Buy more packages. That does not mean go buy more packages than you're already buying, but it does mean if you're going to the store to buy something, instead of just getting one of them that will get you through a few days, maybe a week, maybe even a month, buy two, buy three, buy four stock up on your shelf and get ahead a little bit. That way you start always having a rotation where you say, "Oh, I'm down to three of these things, I need to buy a few more." And that just makes sure you always have the supply, you're never running out

Josh: This helps with your budget too, because you have to start budgeting differently when you buy in bulk. And so going out and buying 50 pounds or 100 pounds of something can be challenging all of a sudden. You say, "Okay, I'm going to start buying in bulk." And you start doing it, and go, Whoa, this is a big bill. And it is. And so transitioning the way Carolyn's talking about at first, keep buying the small thing you were buying, but maybe buy double. And then the next time you can afford it, buy a little bit more and you start to condition yourself and your budget. You can start budgeting for that and work up to those larger purchases that are really required to do bulk buying well. By buying those more packages.

Carolyn: Well, and another thing that we, I think we touched on in last week's video a little bit is that when you start bringing in bulk things, your storage systems have to change and sometimes that means you need to purchase containers or something to store large amounts. And so if you do that kind of gradually, it spreads out that cost a little bit, which is a good thing.

Josh: Yeah, and work up to it. Absolutely.

Carolyn: Absolutely.

Josh: Okay I think we're going here.

Carolyn: Yep. So next is...

Josh: To buy bulk packages.

Carolyn: Yeah, move up in size. Now sometimes grocery stores have bulk package aisles and buy bulk packages-

Josh: So like Costco, the Costco idea.

Carolyn: Sometimes Costco has big bags of things. Sometimes they have a bunch of little things packaged together. The little things packaged together kind of counts as the buy more, right? The big bags of things, that's where your real cost saving comes in. That is the bulk packages. Now a place like Costco, Box Stores sometimes has that sort of thing. But you can also into one, your local food co-op. Go to your local health food store and ask about bulk buying opportunities. There may be a group in your town, a lot of places there are groups that order directly from bulk buying companies.

Josh: You got to dig for that sometimes to find that. So don't just take one or two answers and think it doesn't exist. Sometimes it's just not-

Carolyn: Ask on your local Facebook groups. Just start asking around, where can I buy bulk foods? Another one to look into is Azure Standard. We'd love to Azure Standard. And that is a bulk buying opportunity where they deliver to your town. You go meet the truck and get your bulk foods. It's a really, really-

Josh: And it's a wonderful system.

Carolyn: It really is.

Josh: I wish there was more localized suppliers like them, but they've just done it so well. And they're one of the few that do what they do. And so it's a great entry place and we still rely on them from time to time.

Carolyn: We still buy, there's things we don't produce and we buy in from them. So yeah, real good. So those are some great ways to get some bulk packages. And in bulk buying that's one of those places you really have to make sure you have your packaging ready, okay? Don't go buy a bunch of 50 pound bags of-

Josh: You're storage ready.

Carolyn: ... your storage packaging. Yeah, for when it comes in the house, because you can't just leave those things in the bags.

Josh: Especially a lot of your grains. We buy all our grains in bulk, our sugar, our salt, our flour or rice or beans or coffee. You can, but it doesn't work well just leaving them in the bags.

Carolyn: Yeah, you end up with pest problems.

Josh: The past problems and [crosstalk 00:28:10],

Carolyn: There's problems.

Josh: So you need that storage solution first.

Carolyn: Yeah, so look into that before you get going on that. We'll try to put the link to Azure Standard down since we mentioned that.

Josh: Sounds good. Okay, so next would be to buy bulk from a local producer in season and preserve and store.

Carolyn: So this is our second favorite option for bulking up your food supply, right? Find a local producer.

Josh: And this, this can be for meats, vegetables, depending on where you live, grains. Most places today, there's going to be some relatively local producers for quality meats and quality vegetables. That's just growing more and more.

Carolyn: Dairy.

Josh: Dairy, that's growing more and more. And so there's lots of different ways to put that up and store it bulk. And then you have your grains and a lot of those, depending on where you're at, you may or may not. That's very regional. And so that may be harder and you may need even to buy in bulk, Azure standard or some co-op like that.

Carolyn: Yeah, and sometimes communities get together and do a really big order and truck it in from a farmer who's further away. We know that happens here quite a bit and that works out really well if you can get a community together. Now, what comes with that though, is that you do have to preserve food if you're buying fresh food, fresh produce in bulk in season, which is a great way to do. But you do need to learn how to preserve it the food.

Josh: Got to be ready to preserve it, to can it, to dehydrate it, to-

Carolyn: Freeze it, ferment it.

Josh: Yeah. And this is the one people kept talking about freeze drying it. This is something we will get into eventually, but we feel the entry cost at this point is still too high to make it worthwhile for our worthwhile and for most of you. But it's getting there, it's coming down and it's an awesome food preservation method though. It's a little energy intensive, but you want to talk about storing some of those other foods, fresh foods that are hard to store long-term other than canning, which is great.

Carolyn: I want to do avocados freeze dried. There's just no other way to do avocados that are any good. So yeah.

Josh: So for those of you that are thinking of that yes, so that is an excellent option other than the energy consumption and the price points to enter. So we plan to do that eventually, but still waiting for those prices [crosstalk 00:30:20]

Carolyn: To come down a little bit?

Josh: I'm aware of the technology.

Carolyn: Drum roll [crosstalk 00:30:24].

Josh: Can you guys guess it, what's our number one method for stocking up your food storage?

Carolyn: I know, I know.

Josh: You, young lady, pretty young lady.

Carolyn: Grow your own. Grow your own food.

Josh: Yep. Start to grow your own and preserve your own. None of us can do all of that for ourselves, 100% of it, but a lot of us can do-

Carolyn: Something.

Josh: ... something to a lot of it, Absolutely.

Carolyn: Absolutely. You're going to get the best nutrition, the best value for your money put in, the best other benefits, like being out in fresh air. So it's a really good way to go.

Josh: Absolutely. And that's a journey, so just keep hanging with us and we'll keep talking about all that because that's what we like to do.

Carolyn: We really do. Okay, before we wrap this up, we talked about a method, helping people, the economics.

Josh: We talked about why?

Carolyn: We talked about why.

Josh: Yeah, I feel like we're recapping.

Carolyn: Oh, okay. No, I wasn't recapping. I've said we promised to talk about the economics and how to get started on buying bulk. Because sometimes you go to buy that 50 pound bag of beans, it's more expensive than a one pound bag of beans. [crosstalk 00:31:32].

Josh: And it doesn't fit in the budget to start.

Carolyn: Right, it might not. So how do we do that to make that worthwhile?

Josh: Well, you got to have a strategy and you have to start small, right? So I think you who you handle the food budget, so you start to just increase little bit to that food budget. Is that how you've done it?

Carolyn: Yeah. As you stock up, you have one less thing that you have to buy every month. Because that 50 pound bag is going to last you a long time if you're used to buying one pound bags every month. So then all of a sudden you have one less thing you have to buy. So you can roll the money you would've spent on that one pound of beans into buying something else bulk. Doing it that way, starting to bulk up on a new thing every month is a great way to get into it without spending too much money on it. And that's a great entry way for it.

Josh: And you just start to grow that. And another thing I would add is consider seasonality when you're picking what things. You know, start bulking up on certain things in their season. And that just starts to get you into a rhythm and you'll grow into that as you can increase that. And it just means that the other side you have to do is you have to start to save a little bit. You can't roll it just all over. You've started to go up to put a few dollars away every time so that those purchases continue to get larger and larger until you can get to the cycle that you want. We kind of aim for a one-year cycle generally, right?

Josh: But whatever that is for you, six months a year, for some people, maybe it's longer, but you need to be able to save a little bit at the same time as you're increasing other ones so that you can keep growing. And so little steps along. You've heard us say start small, it's a great place to start small and with a good strategy, you will just increase your food storage and your ability to take advantage of better deals and all kinds of stuff.

Carolyn: It really, yeah. It grows really quickly if you can just be consistent, but chip away at it.

Josh: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Pantry Chat Food for Thought. If you've enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review.

Carolyn: To view the show notes and any other resources mentioned on this episode, you can learn more at

Josh: We'll see you soon.

Carolyn: Goodbye.

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