Grocery Shopping

Grocery Shopping Plans for December

Swiss Chard in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

Last month I ended up straying from my planned list a little. I know there was a possibility of a .49 cent pasta sale, and I didn’t put it on my list, but when it did end up happening, we bought quite a bit. I also stocked up a fair amount on some items from my list, which meant I had to pass on other items. And some things, like oranges and onions, never did come down to the prices I was hoping to see. I’m hoping oranges and onions will come down this month, especially the week before Christmas.

December is a great month for holiday sales: baking items, hams, and citrus fruits.

Oranges. I’m looking for a price under .33 a pound. Normally they are .97 a pound here, but a sale close to Christmas can bring them down, sometimes as low as .20 a pound. We’ve had a lot of grocery stores closings in this area, so I don’t know if we’ll see prices this low or not, but if we do, I’ll buy half a cart’s worth of oranges. They last several months in the refrigerator (or in a cold, above freezing garage) so we can eat them next month, too.

Onions. I am hoping for under .25 a pound, and then I will buy 50 pounds. So far the lowest price I have seen on yellow onions (yellow are usually the lowest priced option) is .48 a pound. I’m hoping for lower before I stock up.

Clementines The Prudent Homemaker

Clementines and/or mandarins. I buy these on sale for $1.00 a pound. There are occasional coupons for these as well; I used one last month for $0.50 off. They come bagged in 2, 3, and 5 pound bags, and this is the season for them. These are one of my favorites, and my family’s favorites, too. All nine of us can easily eat a 3 pound bag’s worth at the end of a meal, so I’ll buy a fair amount of these.

Potatoes. We bought less than 100 pounds last month–a big change from our usual November purchase of several hundred pounds. My family can easily go through 40-50 pounds a week in the colder months when potatoes are on sale. I’m looking for $0.10 to $0.20 a pound for russets. My plans to dry some have been halted at this point; I’d still like to do it, but physically that is too much for me right now.

Apples. I’ll look for sales at .79 a pound or lower on Galas and/or Fujis. Both are good keepers and will last a long time in the fridge drawers (or even in the cool garage; they store well at 34ºF.

Frozen sweet peas. I thought I would see a sale on this, but I never did. The price I was looking for was $1.00 a pound or lower. Most places sell 10-12 ounce bags. Albertson’s has their brand (which we prefer) in a 16 ounce bag, and it occasionally goes on sale for $1 a bag. These are specifically marked “sweet peas” or “petite peas” and are sweeter and more pleasant than the regular peas. I go through 1 1/2 pounds at a meal, so if I find this price, I’ll buy a large quantity for the freezer.

Pork roasts. Several cuts of pork roasts should be on sale this month. I saw great sales last month on boneless pork loin roast, but I didn’t buy any, since I had spent my money on other items. I’ll look to purchase some this month on sale, including pork shoulder roasts.

Hams. I bought two hams last month and we ate one. I’ll look for another one on sale this month.

Milk. I plan on buying lots of milk this month, both to drink and to make yogurt. Prices have been a bit lower lately; I’ve been paying $2.57 a gallon for whole milk.

Cream cheese. I bought some on sale last month (they were $1 a package when you buy 10). If I see that sale price again, I’ll buy at least another 10 packages, if not more, to last us through next year. Expiration dates are 6 months out, but unopened they will last at least twice as long as that with no change in quality.

Orchids. I didn’t find any great prices on orchids last month, though a reader did mention some prices to me that she saw at Home Depot. I know Trader Joe’s typically has small ones for $8. Grocery stores have great prices on orchids during the winter. Sam’s Club has also had them before.

Marshmallows. Sales should have these at .99 a bag.

Meyer Lemon Tree The Prudent Homemaker

We’re harvesting lots of Meyer lemons from the garden now. We also have Swiss chard, beet greens, beets, green onions, and herbs. A warmer than usual December and January are predicted, which should mean faster growth of our winter seedlings, including beets, lettuce, radishes, turnips, and more.

 

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69 Comments

  1. Two weeks ago here in Colorado Safeway had potatoes for 99 cents for a 10-lb bag. I bought one to assess the quality — they were very good quality — fresh and from a local grower. I bought two more bags to store (there are only two of us, so these should last quite a while.) I’m hoping to snag a pork roast or three on sale and will buy a ham for Christmas. I’d like to add to my butter stores in the freezer — it usually goes on sale this time of year. Thank you for the reminder about peas — I would like to get some more of them as well.

  2. Brandy, I know you did a post quite some time ago about your “buy point” on what you purchase. With prices changing frequently, would you consider doing another post with updated info? I find this really helpful when knowing what to look for. Today’s post was one that I will refer to frequently.. Thanks!

  3. I am always amazed to see that people get milk “on sale,” or at a good price generally. A gallon of milk in PA is nearly $4/gal and never gets reduced or goes on sale.

  4. This summer I used a pack of cream cheese that had an expiry date of 12-2013. It had been in the back of the fridge and it was perfectly fine. Used it to make frosting.

  5. Your posts are so very inspiring for planning my grocery trips and your Meyer Lemon tree is gorgeous!! Thank you for sharing!!

  6. I have gotten some oranges for .48/lb recently, and here, that is the low. We do have lower milk prices, and this week is was 1.69 a gallon. I purchased 40 lb. of potatoes last month for .10/lb, and stocked up on turkey at .79 a pound (which is higher than other years, but the best price this year). I found carrots for .40/lb, apples for .48/lb, cabbage for .33/lb, and got some of all of those.

    This month I’m watching sales on oils, and hoping for a good price on chocolate chips and a few other baking supplies. I’ll likely buy some ham on sale if the price is good too.

  7. Brandy, how do you store onions? Mine always start to sprout before I’ve used up the bag! I just found onions for .89 cents for 3 pounds and would like to stock up but I’m afraid to! I, too, appreciate these shopping posts! Thank you!

  8. I’m so in awe that you get so much out of your garden at this time of year. I usually get some things but with my leg broken, it’s almost completely dead out there! I’ll be able to plant in February though.

    We have been getting lucky with pork shoulders going below $.99 a pound around here. I have three in the freezer. We didn’t get to eat one in time before Thanksgiving and I have only one turkey, a ham, and two whole chickens. I would have loved to have gotten another turkey as we tend to eat lots of pork around here. I’ve been able to get some other good prices on things but mainly we have been eating out of the pantry. Thanks for the motivation!

  9. I agree! Glad to be out of PA when regarding that. In Atlanta now and Miley often is $1 a half gallon on sale or $2 a gallon on sale. Can get it around $2.60 gallon normally which is insanely cheap compared to dealing with the milk prices in PA. I would always do the free milk deals from the grocery stores with their cereal promotions or coupon for almond milk when I lived there.

  10. I’ve finally managed to convince the hubs to buy a second fridge for the garage so I can store things in bulk. I’m also hoping to convince him to build me a pantry in the garage. We had a rat problem in one shed and a bee colony set up in the other this summer. Hopefully the garage will work better for storage. Winco had potatoes 10# for a buck last week but they go bad in the house if I buy too many 🙁 Your post are so inspiring to me each week.

  11. I am going to have 2 NO spend weeks this month on groceries. One this week, we have plenty in the freezer and pantry. The 2nd week will be the week between Christmas and New Year’s day. Our boys will be off with their other grandmother and that leaves just the 2 of us. Cooking for us is so easy it is just silly. Again the pantry and freezer will be our base for food.

    I am going to look for some baking supplies at Sam’s Club. I only have 10 pounds of butter in the freezer and that will not last us 6 months. We use a lot of butter in this house.
    Also going to get 1/4 of a beef. We usually get a 1/2 a beef at a time, but this time I want to cut back a little on the beef and go with more chicken.

  12. Those prices sound great if you can find them.. Hope you do.. with marsh mellows.. I buy the ones after a holiday.. they are usually shaped in the holiday shape and a light amount of color dye.. I can usually get them for like .25 bag. cause who wants Halloween marsh mellows in November? We do !…They melt for rice treats just like the one normal ones.
    Sue in NJ

  13. I am hoping to find hams on sale and a good price to stock up on butter. Otherwise I only plan on buying very good sale priced items in bulk, IF I have any money for food shopping.

  14. I’m with you, Mandy. I’m waiting for those hams to go on sale, so I can cut them up into ham steaks and shave into cold meat slices, then freeze for meals throughout the winter. I’m also hoping for a good sale on butter to use for baking (I’ll freeze it so we can use it as needed). We use margarine otherwise, because it is just cheaper for every day use! I will also be watching the super low sale items we see around Christmas and stocking up on things my family likes. I just bought some snack crackers on sale for $1/box…great for lunch box items as well as cheese and cracker trays during the holidays.

  15. Two questions for you Brandy:
    1. How often do you see limits on your purchases (for us the frozen peas would have a limit of anywhere from 4-10 bags depending on the store – usually limits are 4-6 bags here) and how do you stock up with those limits in place?

    2. What happens if something never drops below your price point but is something that you use regularly (onions, potatoes, etc. for example)?

    Thanks so much!
    Lea

  16. In my cold garage in the winter, which is above freezing and around refrigerator temperature. I have to check them regularly for any that might go, to remove them and prevent all of them from going bad. I usually dry 25 of the 50 pounds in my dehydrator.

  17. I don’t buy above my price points. Those points are based on the lowest sales prices I see in my area, so I know they come to that price. Of course, with inflation, price points may need to be adjusted over time (for example, years ago, I paid $1.59 a gallon for milk, and it went that low every two weeks at a store near me). Last year I had to up my price on potatoes from .10 to .20 a pound. I do occasionally see them go on sale for .10 a pound, but that is much more rare, and there are usually limits.

    As far as limits, it depends. There is a store that my husband can walk to from his office, and he says the store will let him do multiple transactions when there are limits. We’ve done that. Othertimes, I can pick some up and my mom might pick some up when she is out (if it’s not something she also buys and she is planning to go to that store that week).

    If onions never go below .48 a pound this month, I’ll probably end up buying some at that price, but not as many. That would mean that is the lowest they are going to go here, which means adjusting my price point, since I know it won’t go lower. This is the typical month to find them the lowest, and it’s a price I only see once a year, so I try to buy enough for a year when that happens. Hopefully Winco will have them on sale for .25 or even .20 a pound the week of Christmas, like they have before.

  18. Prices must be frightfully high in your area, Brandy. Guess that gives me one more thing to be thankful for. We grow hundreds of pounds of onions and potatoes each year so we don’t have to purchase them, but in our area you can buy a 50 lb sack of potatoes for $5 and 50 lbs. of onions for $8. Here I was envious of you for your lemons and ability to grow lettuce in the winter. Guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Now I can see that your “eat on 40 cents a day” is even more remarkable considering where you live! Do you have an Aldi’s in your area? There cream cheese is always 99 cents a package here. Wonder if the have the same prices out west?

  19. I’ve stoked up on a few baking goods this month. I made plenty of room in the big cupboard and in my kitchen to store all kinds but the prices I wanted just weren’t there, so it’s the same story in the UK too.

  20. I get my powdered milk from Emergency Essentials and freeze in plastic bags after opening. I use that for most everything.

  21. I got butter at Aldi several months ago for $2.50/lb and froze quite a few boxes. A friend said they switched to margarine when doing their Thanksgiving shopping when butter at their grocery store went to $3.99/lb!

  22. Because of having been sick, my husband went to the grocery store with me for a couple weeks. I can now do it on my own–thank goodness! He was willing to spend $4.99 on 12 oz of blueberries (6 oz packages, BOGO) That is way over my price point–in fact, my price point does NOT include buying 6 oz packages. This week they were 4.4 OZ packages!! I did NOT buy any. He has to eat bananas on his cereal, or open a can of peaches.
    I am amazed at your low–or our high–prices on potatoes. I rarely see under 40 cents a pound, and I buy them regularly. I did get an 8 quart basket of yellow onions earlier this fall for $2.99. I don’t know how many pounds that is, but I’m still using them, and I do use onions a lot, but I know that’s as cheap as I have seen. I used to buy 25 or 50 lb bags in fall, but being down to 2 people, that is just too many for us these days. I do use the dried onions from Sam’s Club in some cooking but prefer fresh for most things. And I pay way too much for apples, as 88 Cents a lb has been the absolute low point, and that I only saw once. We grow an enormous variety of apples in this area and I really resent paying more for them than Las Vegas residents!!! I have two great apple farms with in mile or two of my house, and can do no better than 99 cents a pound most weeks. I will buy up to 8 qt baskets at a time, too.

  23. Just playing catch up on your blog Brandy! Thank you for all you do – I really find inspiration in your thoughts, ideas, decorations, et cetera.
    Sorry to hear about your fall – speedy recovery!

  24. Hello Brandy & all from Australia. Brandy I love the picture of your Swiss chard, they look so healthy, mine were getting there until the hail storm shredded them, but alas with trimming I have found that the centres of them are still intact after trimming the outside leaves :D, so they will just take a little bit longer to sprout.

    Last month like you Brandy our grocery shop went a bit awry with specials everywhere on items we had intended to stock up on over our 3 month storage target, so we did and took full advantage of the sales putting our grocery shopping budget over our target. The specials were on things like shampoo & conditioner which rarely come on special & were 33% off usual prices, and meat such as legs of lamb & chicken. Bonus is that our pantries and freezers are fully stocked with meat. Thanks to an abundant season in the garden and us blanching and freezing all our vegetables before the hail storm we also have half a freezer loaded with blanched turnips, green & butter beans, broad beans, greenfeast peas, silverbeet & spinach beet which should get us through till the crops recover & start to sprout and regrow again.

    Our plans for the month of December for groceries are as follows –
    – To shop once a month only in the middle of each month, get basics only & top up on specials that may come up in the month only.
    – Stock up on 8 kg of white flour to up our stocks, this never comes on special here.
    – Keep an eye out for our favourite deodorant to come on special and buy 4 if it does, waiting for 50% off.
    – Stock up on another bulk package of 24 toilet paper from Aldi, again never comes on special but always a low price there.
    – Stock up on vanilla essence if we see it at Aldi again, wasn’t there this week, shop undergoing refit though.
    – Stock up on powdered eggs if we see them come on sale.
    – Stock up on oranges & lemons to make orange & lemon juice cordial & citrus vinegar for cleaning. Lemons are running currently at $1 ea and I won’t pay that as that is beyond our price point. Will keep an eye out when we go to Toowoomba this week on those as they have some great discount fruit shops there.

    So thankful that we have reached a stage now in our food storage that we have sufficient stocks to wait for specials on our more expensive grocery items being personal care, vanilla extract, powdered eggs & things to come on special now. We shop between 3 stores and just keep an eye out with the advertising brochures that come in the post.

    Previously due to having a low budget being on pensions we had waited for items to come on special and bought what we needed and one extra, so it has taken us a while to get to this stage, but as they say the tortoise eventually wins the race by being slow and steady in it’s pace :). We were also blessed to have a good tax refund last year so we were able to stock up our pantries and freezers with that money which got us ahead substantially.

  25. Thanks for the reply, Brandy! I appreciate it!

    Our prices have been going up (we only had two types of apples drop below $1/lb and then for a very short time, for example) and I have been trying to figure out what to do about my price points and how to make up for it when I miss the lowest opportunity because I was hoping it would go lower. Thanks for sharing what you do – definitely food for thought!

    I so appreciate your site! Thanks for everything you do!
    Lea

  26. Lea,

    In that case, you know they go that low, but not as often, so I would wait to buy them, knowing they can get that low, until they go low again if you have a chance in the season. If I really needed it I would buy some at $1 a pound, but I wouldn’t buy as much-I wouldn’t stokc up–to get me through until another possible sale on apples (which should come again, as new crops come in from overseas of Fujis this fall).

  27. Hello one and all from Australia :).

    For our sewers here in Australia and those who blog here from Australia, Spotlight has 40% off most of their sewing fabrics at the moment all week with quilters homespun $4.99 mt along with drill cotton, and a lot of their homewares are on special too, sheets, towels etc. Lincraft fabrics have 30 % off their quilting fabrics as well. Check their websites as on lincraft you can purchase online on special as well.

    I shall for our Australian bloggers here, let others know of specials and special deals I see here too :).

  28. I’m glad to hear that. I just found a cream cheese in my fridge that “EXPIRED” in August and I wondered if it was still good.

  29. With apple orchards in your area, can you buy the apples directly from the farm? We travel down to an area each fall that is well known for having apple orchards and many have roadside stands. We buy a bushel of “C” grade apples for very good prices from the stands. The apples are not “perfect” but are great for canning and baking. We pull the better ones for eating fresh. If you can get the apples that store longer (like the Galas or Fujis that Brandy mentioned), you might be able to keep some fresh ones for a while into winter, then eat canned ones or just buy a few fresh when on sale.

  30. I bought a shank ham for 88 cents a lb. at Aldi. That will be our meat for Christmas. When I eat meat, it is usually chicken bought at 49 cents a lb. to 69 cents a lb. My basic diet consists of various greens (turnip, mustard, dandelion, collards), potatoes and carrots, rice, pasta, tomatoes, all kinds of beans, flour, sugar, cornmeal, peas, eggs, occasionally tuna fish or catfish (this is grown locally), along with the chicken, and bread, foraged pecans and mulberries. It is a very basic diet but easy to prepare with minimum fuss and expense (and hard to mess up since I am not the best cook…..lol). I supplement with mayo from store, since my homemade mayo does not turn out well because I refuse to use any electricity to make it, and homemade ranch dressing. I use powdered milk or evaporated milk, if I a need a milk product and seldom use cheese, except for parm. cheese. I think by limiting meat and cheese, it has brought my grocery bill down significantly. Now if I could just quit drinking diet mt. dews, it would really bring my bill down…lol. You are a blessing Brandy! Love your posts!!!

  31. Louisiana is the same way… We have a grocery store chain that sells the EXACT same milk across the state lines in Arkansas and Texas for less. I realize this regulation is to protect the diary farmers in our state, but when the milk is not produced in our state and is shipped in, it makes it hard to support.

  32. I am pretty well stocked now except for the rest of the baking items we need and I need to up our animal foods stored as well.
    * Salt – I discovered I no longer have ANY in storage – Oops!!
    * flour – at least 50 lbs
    * sugar – another 25 lbs
    * chocolate chips and cocoa
    * butter and margarine – Butter has been staying around $2.50 a pound on sale – I was hoping for some $1.99 sales but it hasn’t happened yet.
    * oil
    * cornmeal
    * yeast
    * baking soda and powder
    * vinegar
    * whatever spices are low – most stores have % off sales on spices this time of year.

    I will also be looking for toilet paper to go on sale as well and will be checking for clearance canning supplies for next canning season.

    Animal food:
    200 lbs of poultry feed – will get me thru til Spring
    50 lbs of rabbit feed
    200 pounds of dog/puppy food
    150 pounds of cat food

    I keep everything in the house until needed by the outside critters where it is stored in metal trash cans. We have far too many rodents in the garage and barn to safely store any feed outside of the cans. With 5 cats and 3 dogs in the house, it is rare we see a mouse in here. I do not store as much in the summer due to the heat making the dog/cat food go rancid fairly quickly and the poultry and rabbits don’t eat as much commercial feed in the summer when everything is growing.

  33. Brandy, Great buying tips! My husband will be retiring the end of Jan 2016. We have always had a stocked pantry but I have made an effort to upgrade and stock the pantry with 6 to 12 months of food. I have done a variety of bulk purchases. I have included freeze dried foods that will have a long shelf life plus updating grains, baking items and canned goods. We invested in a canned goods rotating shelf to control the date rotation. We are in a position to make that kind of financial investment. My plan is to keep a deep pantry and make purchases that will rotate what we eat. We already have a garden spot with a potted orchard on the patio. With the extra money that has come our way we also invested in another refrigerator. This will give us [3 adults and 1 child] the necessary refrigerator space plus the extra freezer space. We already have a freezer. I thought of how you put in place a great pantry of food not knowing that is what you would be eating for a long time. I know our income will drop and I am trying to get set. We have turned the garage [we live in Western Washington State and the garage temps are safe to store food] into a mini warehouse and a large food storage area. It has been fun to establish a family store. I know soon enough I will be stretching every dollar I can so this preparation has been my special task since Aug.

  34. If it is any consolation, out where I am in westernCanada, I usually pay $1.99/lb for apples. Sometimes I get a deal at $1.49, but that doesn’t happen often enough.

  35. My December shopping plans are to buy pantry items. I will buy sugar, all purpose flour, bread flour, spices, potato flakes (used in my bread recipe), etc. And after buying all of that, if I have any money left, I will buy some pork roasts. They are on sale this weekend. I may also buy some butter as we are nearly out. My budget has increased (at the insistence of my dh) to $150 a month. I find that I can manage quite nicely on this amount. We don’t eat frivolously but we do eat. 🙂

  36. We are super blessed when we can get it for 99c for 1/2 gallon–($1.98/gal) here in Oregon. Rob just picked up 5 today, and 1 orange juice for that price. It stores quite a while and Fred Meyers seems to be putting it on for that price every few weeks. That is the absolutely rock bottom price for quite some time around here. I have just been stocking up when it comes on sale, and then stretching it out until the next time.

  37. I’ve used them long past their “expiration” date, as well, and find that they store a long time as long as they were never opened to let any spores or other contaminates get in.

  38. Judy – I started reading Brandy out of interest in gardening and ‘putting by’. I’ve always kept a full pantry but never really tracked it and ended up throwing stuff out or buying stuff I didn’t use. Brandy and all the commenters have really helped get, and keep me, on track. I tried to retire twice but went back to work as I really can’t not work (after working to support myself for most of my life – since I was a teenager) . Then I lost the second job unexpectedly – about three months after I started reading here. What I found was that the “oh, no, didn’t really plan for this quite yet’ stomach ache didn’t occur as it had when I had been layed off twice in the previous twenty years. What I did find is that, even though I now have a 20 hour a week job that I love, I also really, really like our new thrifty/prudent lifestyle. I had to rebuild a professional work wardrobe and did that with thrifting amazing clothes through a couple of great local thrift stores (name brand, in some instances brand new, classic clothing). I now always look for a thrifty alternative before going ‘full price’. And odd thing is – I feel like my life is much lovelier and happier! You are so wise to start now and not be thrown into panic!

  39. I’m hoping to get mini chocolate chips. We use several bags per year, and I just freeze them. For muffins, etc., I can use only a few and it spreads the chocolate flavor all throughout the baked goods. I like them in banana, pumpkin and zucchini breads and muffins, and so do the kids.

    I’m hoping for butter down to around $2/pound. It hasn’t gotten there for a while, I’m waiting to see. I will get cream cheese if it comes on for around $1. I will grab Tillamook cheese if it comes down to a low price (lowest ever is $4/2 lb brick–normal low is $5-2 lb brick–this week is see $5.50-2 lb brick–hope it’s not the new norm) The loaves of cheese last for months in the refrigerator, or can be shredded and frozen.

    We got some milk today for 99c/1/2 gal. and 1 container of orange juice. I probably will buy that combination again before the end of the sale period.

    I hope to get up to Bob’s Red Mill to take advantage of a coupon I have. I will get xanthum gum and 1-1 flour (gluten-free and both expensive) with the buy one, get one free coupon, up to $10. Since a couple of our therapies are near there, I will wait until someone has an appointment, and then go. We do less therapy during the holidays, but I have a couple of chances as long as no one gets sick. There is also a buy a gift card for $5 off when you buy one for $20. I will buy it and have Rob give it to me for Christmas.

    I’m going to eat from the freezers and cupboards and save the rest of the money to re-stock staples when needed. I’m sure I will find I need a few other things as the holidays get nearer, but we have an awful lot of food right now, since we just butchered turkeys, have 1/2 beef, did chickens in the fall and are otherwise well-stocked. (Clearly, we don’t intend to gobble all the meat up right away, it needs to last a long time–it is a big investment we have used quite a bit of time and money on obtaining). We do have baby piglets growing now, though, to replenish that supply, as my pork is all but gone.

    When the lettuce runs out, I will buy more. I will probably get it at Costco or Cash and Carry if we are near there for around $3.50 for the 5-head pack of romaine or iceberg for around $1-$1.25/head at Fred Meyers. We will use more canned and frozen vegetables and fruits this month as my garden is toast. I do have a few tomatoes still ripening in the garage, and 1/2 of the 50 pound bag of red potatoes I got for $10 a while back. There are carrots and cabbage from the garden still in the fridge. I will get a few bananas and clementines or oranges if I see a good deal.

  40. Hi Judy from Australia :), and great to hear that you are getting prepared, we are a family of 2 empty nesters, and my husband was involved in a military accident and had to forcibly retire on a full pay military compensation payment, I too due to the deterioration in his condition had to forcibly retire as well to be his carer at an early age. I made a decision in 2008 during the GFC where I lost my management job fairly much overnight due to a huge downturn in customers, sales and the fact no-one had any money to purchase anything. I took a look at my husband who by this time was barely able to walk and was riddled with osteo arthritis, and knew where my priorities lay.

    Since then we have like you been laying aside food storage and are up to a similar level of storage as yourselves and are as well thinking of investing in another large freezer as well to store our blanched & frozen vegetables from our large gardens. We are working towards having a large freezer for just meat, and one for vegetables. Currently we have one large fridge, and one large freezer.

    When first venturing into food storage it is scary to find out just how much food that your family would use and to maintain your levels on a constant basis. Just a few tips we use is to –
    – write everything we use out of the pantry, freezers, personal care etc on a list on the fridge. This keeps a constant inventory of what we use and what to replace each fortnight or month. No going through cupboards and counting, got to love that.
    – Buy in bulk and compare prices, we order from a company on the other side of Australia from a supplier that supplies restaurants, their prices for a lot of their baking goods, dried fruits etc are half that price of our local supermarkets even with delivery costs.
    – Buy lots of food storage containers, as you will be surprised at just how many you use.
    – Stock up when the specials are on, amazing how much money you can save.
    – And finally if you want a good reference point for food storage go to http://www.lds.org and search food storage and have a read, there is so much valuable information on there too.
    – This is also a helpful food storage calculator as well you can find by clicking on the following link – http://www.family-survival-planning.com/food-storage-calculator.html.

    Above all enjoy the experience of becoming more self sufficient and enjoy and eat what you store and use some of Brandy’s wonderful recipes from the pantry and others. They are all delicious !.

  41. Hi Linda and there is environmental, drought and bug, fungus infections of crops all over the world at the moment.

    Here in Australia they have had Panama disease which has wiped out whole banana plantations in Northern Australia, wide spread drought that has effected grain crops so that their yields are lower and now there is a shortage in most grains putting the prices up around 25% for a 25kg bag, recent hail storms and flooding in the area where I live which has completely wiped out or significantly lowered the amount of food that can be harvested from crops and many more devastating events on poultry bird flu viruses which have caused egg shortages etc.

    We were going past a lot of farms on our drive today where the farmers, who like us, were trying to salvage and harvest what crops they could before all of the crops died due to recent hail storms and flooding. When the leaves are cut off by the hail, the plants stop growing and then rot and the heavy rains of around 1″ to 8″ in one day just decimate them. So sad to see all of the farmers out there trying to save their crops as we are doing currently too.

    So much more the reason to store substantial food stocks and at least 12 months or more to protect us all from rising prices due to environmental conditions, diseases of vegetables & animals and the resulting price rises that can sky rocket and be passed on to us.

  42. Beautiful chard. Fresh from your own garden is the best deal of all! We’ve found that many people don’t realize how much food can be grown at home this time of year. As we transitioned to relying more on food we grow ourselves our food budget fell by more than 2/3. These days we only buy the things we can’t produce ourselves (coffee, sugar, etc.)
    One of my pet peeves is the commonly held false belief that good whole foods are unaffordable. But as your post shows that isn’t true. If people would spend their money on things like potatoes (.10-.20 per pound) rather than potato chips ($5 plus per pound), or flash frozen vegetables ($1/lb), etc. they’d see they can get a lot more for their money than they think!

  43. Hi Bill and yes I agree my husband and I predominantly live off our own organically grown produce that we grow on our 1/2 acre rented property. We are saving currently for our first home together by being frugal. We traditionally dry all our own herbs & sell our vegetables & herbs to friends and on the internet, and use that money to buy more seeds etc and things we don’t produce on the property, and trade with other friends for things we don’t have the space to grow here. I also design and sew home wares and sell them on the internet and that pays for a lot of groceries and also the replacement of fabrics etc.

    There is nothing like going out to your own garden and picking fresh peas and of course eating a few in the process, pulling fresh carrots and beetroot and making your own juices, it tastes so much better and reminds you of just how old and yes I will say stale the vegetables are that you buy in the supermarkets. So blessed also when we have excess produce as well because that gets blanched and frozen for storage for winter as well.

    Going into the supermarkets shopping I too notice so many with a shopping cart full of processed foods rather than basics which are far more cost effective and go far further. However that is their choice to do so and this may just be what they want to do. I have one son who has grown now with two daughters and despite the way they were bought up to cook properly and eat fruit straight from trees growing up, lives totally on take away only, him and his girlfriend never ever cook. May I say I would hate to even estimate what they would spend just on take away in one week for a family of 4.

  44. Greetings from Maryland!

    I stopped by Aldi’s Tuesday night to pick up a couple of things we needed after being out of state for the holiday weekend. I have found that the Aldi’s I shop at tends to markdowns on Tuesday since the new ad starts the next day and they are getting a delivery truck on Wednesday. This trip didn’t disappoint as I found 3 lb. bags of onions for 25¢(4), bags of cranberries for 50¢(4), 1 lb. bags of baby carrots for 49¢(10) and bags of Kraft Caramel Bits at 99¢(4).

    I will dehydrate some of the onions, freeze some chopped, store some in my basement tied in panty hose. I will also chop some and put in the slow cooker with a stick of butter until it’s cooked down and caramelized. It’s wonderful on burgers and can be frozen. Most of the carrots I will pressure can with some OJ. The Caramel bits and the cranberries will be used for holiday baking.

    When we were in Tennessee for Thanksgiving, I found Chocolate Bark coating marked down to $1.69 for 1.5 lb. packages at Kroger so I bought 2. Now I wished I had picked up a few more. I also wish I would have had a way to bring home several dozen eggs since they were only 99¢ there and are $2.49 here at Aldi’s. CVS has eggs for $1.99 this week so I will buy them there. I picked up 2 turkeys for the freezer before we went out of town. One will be served for Christmas. I needed vanilla and my neighbor bought it for me at Sam’s and said it was a gift. We are cat sitting their cats this week for them while they are in the UK so a good trade!

    My goals for the month are to pick up a couple hams, butter if I can find it below 2.50 I will buy 20 lbs., clementines, chocolate chips and possibly sugar. One of the stores has pork roasts on sale for 99¢/ lb. so I will be picking up a few to cook in the crockpot. I also am going to buy 25 lb. of wheat berries as I got a grain mill from a fellow Freecycler so am going to try to grind my flour.

  45. Would you be able to do a post of cold (room or garage)/freezer storage. My family is moving into a house that has space for cold storage and I would like to know how long items would keep and if I have to package items in a certain way. Thank you for the time you put into your posts. I utilize many ideas from all that you share.

  46. I was bad and hardly harvested anything I planted this year. But because of my negligence, I have learned that curly parsley and Swiss chard are very frost hardy and onions appear to be pretty hardy too. The Swiss chard is just now looking like the cold is getting to it…. and we’ve had a foot of snow fall and melt and at least one night into the teens. I learned kale was hardy as a kid and we harvested it after digging into the snow. Now I know of two more greens we’ll be able to grow and eat well into late fall.

  47. All of my citrus trees were heavily poured and sprayed pesticides (30 gallons in the ground and even more sprayed in foliage) this year by the USDA for the Asian Psyllid that was spotted about a half mile from our house. All of the houses within a certain radius had to have the pesticide. We grow so much on our little lot for the fact that it’s organic. We are foregoing eating any citrus from our eight trees…so sad.

  48. Just curious, Brandy, how you are able to store perishables like eggs (you have mentioned buying lots of eggs in the past) and cream cheese. Do you have a second refrigerator, or do you just store things in a cool garage or basement in the winter?

  49. Brandy prices are much different here, but I have found spaghetti at dollar tree for $1 for 24oz. This is our lowest price. They also have a no cook lassanga noodles that I buy from them as well. They have large cans of tomatoe juice sometimes that I stock up on when they get them in since I use those for soups during the winter.

  50. Eve,

    I have a fridge/freezer with the freezer on top. I can fit 12 dozen eggs on one shelf, and next to that I have the meat/cheese drawer, where I can fit 20 or so packages of cream cheese.

    It’s a BIG refrigerator. We bought it because it is so big. It has lots of room on the fridge and freezer doors, too.

    I don’t have a basement. I do keep potatoes and onions in the garage in winter.

    I also have a second fridge, but it is smaller (we just got a hand-me-down one from someone). That one has a lot less space, but I can still fit quite a bit in it. Right now the drawers are filled with apples, and soon I’ll be putting lemons from my trees in it.

    Perhaps the more important question is what I don’t have in my fridge that would take up space on the shelves. Some people have soda, juice, or lots of condiments on the shelves. I don’t have those taking up regular fridge space. I get asked this question a lot and I wonder if that’s part of the equation. Also, a side by side fridge has less space–even the ones marked as big as our fridge. So, that could be the issue too.

  51. Kim – thank you so much for your post about caramilizing onions in a crock pot. I have the opportunity to buy a 50 pound bag of onions from a local farmer for around $10.00! I will store some using the pantyhouse method and I have saved every open weave produce bag for years for use in the pantry. My SO loves caramlized onions and it seems when I want to make them I really don’t have the time to do the job properly. This will save me so much time and effort!

  52. Hi Hilogene and you are most welcome. I hope you got some valuable information on them to help you on your way to being more self reliant and prepared.

  53. tomorrow is the last day but cream cheese is on sale at Walgreens for .99, limit 4. When I was there earlier this week I found a 1# box of brown sugar marked down to .36 with a ‘sell by’ date of 2017

  54. Trying to catch up on all the posts I’ve missed lately! I know you have addressed this before but I can’t remember, do you have more than one refrigerator? I would love to see pics/know how you organize your fridge space to accommodate such massive hauls of produce AND your daily/regular refrigerated items. I have a decent size refrigerator but can’t fathom how I would store so much produce alongside all the other cold items in there. Fridge tour maybe?
    I don’t have as many mouths to feed as you nowadays (but when I had two teenage boys at home it sure felt like it. The tides have turned, they are grown & on their own and I am trying to learn how to NOT cook massive meals and buy too much perishable food—old habits die hard, lol!), now it’s just me & hubby for the most part but I still like to stock up on things I know we will eat/use when the price is right so any advice would be appreciated! ~TJ

  55. It is $4 here in east Tn as well…Our cost of living is as high (I have heard others that have moved into the area say) or higher than the rest of the country, and our wages are minimum wage as there are not a lot of job options here. I feel your pain in PA.

  56. I am amazed at the range of milk prices around the country. Here in Alabama, even the store brand is $4 a gallon for 2%. I actually buy a national brand that $5 a gallon. I buy this because my son will actually drink it. Otherwise, I am very particular about using coupons for other items. I buy most meat at Costco. I love that their prices are normally always the same. I havn’t seen any great prices on apples or the clementines.

  57. Hi Brandy and just curious how many litres your combined fridge/freezer is ?, as in Australia ours appliances and models tend to be very different from what is available in the states.

    We have 1 x 430 lt fridge and 1 x 400 odd litre freezer with drawers, we chose the side by side separates for more room to accommodate storing things. Our fridge sounds very similar in size to yours and would hold a huge amount of fresh produce in the crisper drawers down the bottom, as well I would say the 12 dozen eggs on one shelf as well. Like yourself we do not store condiments on the larger everyday shelves and put them in the compartments on the door of the fridge as they are quite large. We also have compartments for storing butter & or eggs on the doors as well which are handy for multiple other things as well.

    The only problem is that they take up so much space being approximately 172cm high each x 70 cm wide x 60 cm deep each. So when we build our home we are saving for we will have to have a large kitchen made to accommodate them. We are planning on getting another freezer the same same so we can freeze more meat as well. Currently the freezer is holding for a month 2 shelves of frozen whole milk, 2 shelves of meat, and 2 shelves of frozen and blanched vegetables from our 300 sq metres of garden vegetable beds.

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