The first thought that came to my mind when I heard people talk about keeping stocked pantries and freezers was; How can they afford it?
Now that I have been building up/stocking my freezer and pantry for about six months, I can answer that question.
My method involved starting out slow. I didn't just go out and buy a bunch of food so my pantry would be full. Instead, I looked for coupons, made lists of the meals we regularly eat, and started shopping at Aldi.
Now that I have been shopping at Aldi, I don't know why I waited so long. I have to tell you though, make sure you price check to insure you are getting the best deal. I find that I can usually get canned goods the cheapest at Aldi, as well as produce, oatmeal, eggs (only .49 cents a dozen) and some freezer items. Other items I find cheaper at Sam's Club. When figuring out what is cheaper, try to go by a price per measurement. For instance, I buy a 2 lb bag of powdered sugar at Aldi for $1.49. Sam's Club sells a 15 lb bag for around $17.50. Aldi ends up being cheaper per pound.
I clip coupons of products I know we will use. I don't do the drug store game. I don't have time. I know there are people out there who say it is worth it, but to me it is not. If I have coupons that are .50 cents or less, I will use them at Kroger because then they are doubled. If I have a coupon that is .55 cents or higher, I look for whatever store is having the best deal.
Some of my pantry staples are:
Rice (brown, white, seasoned)
Beans (blk, northern, chili, refried)
Soups (cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, tomato, chicken noodle)
Flour (wheat, white, bread)
Sugar (white, powdered, brown)
Pasta (elbow, thin spaghetti, lasagna, fettuccine)
Cereal (only when I can get it for under $1.50 per box)
Chocolate Chips (semi-sweet and dark chocolate)
Hershey Baking Cocoa
Now onto stocking my freezer. Whenever I go to the store, I look in the meat section to see if there are any markdowns. If there are, and I think they are reasonable, I will buy it and put it in my freezer. I also buy quite a bit of our meat at Sam's Club. Again, I look first for the marked down meat. I especially look around Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Last year I bought a 12 lb turkey around Christmas for under $7.00. I kept it in the freezer and that was what we had for Thanksgiving. Around this past Thanksgiving, I found another 12 lb turkey for under $7.00, so that is what we will have for next Thanksgiving.
In my freezer, I also have prepared meals. When I make a lasagna, spaghetti, oven baked tacos (I freeze only the filler), southwest burritos, tater tot casserole, etc., I make double. I cook one and put the other one in the freezer. The prep time is the same, but I end up with two meals.
Some staples I keep in my freezer are:
Cooked shredded chicken
Bread (I look on the almost expired/baked too much bread cart)
When I make banana bread, breakfast cookies, muffins, etc., I always try to double the recipe and freeze the majority. The kids know that if they want a muffin or breakfast cookie for snack later in the day, they just take one of the freezer when they get up and it will be thawed when they are ready to eat it.
This year we are going to plant a garden. I am hoping that it goes well and I am able to can or freeze fresh fruits and vegetables from our garden. I am also going to attempt to make my own beans so I don't have to buy canned anymore.
Also, I just signed up to received emails from Bulk Natural Foods. You can order fresh fruits, dry goods, coconut oil, etc. I pick up my first order of organic oranges next week. I am excited to make fresh orange juice and freeze some too!
It has taken me about six months, but now we have about at least a full months worth of food in our pantry and freezer. I could stretch it out further if needed. When planning out my meals for the month, I just look in my freezer and pantry. I always have easy-to-prepare or already-made meals on hand. This makes eating out less tempting, which in turn saves us money.