I was asked a while back about how one stocked on a tight budget. This is a very good question. A lot of people have a desire to prepare for their family’s future by putting up needed things. But, as we all know, amidst house payments, car payments and the rising grocery bills, this is a desire that may seem unattainable. Hopefully, there are some ideas in this post that you can use or even better, expand on these ideas and reach those “unattainable places”.
I have always been a stocker of some sort. It started with toiletries and then went to grains during my whole wheat bread baking season of life. As time went on I began stocking other items, such as, nuts, seeds, sweeteners, and all baking goods, etc. I felt like Joseph in the Bible (Genesis 41) of the modern age. I felt upon some catastrophic economic doom this would keep us afloat for a while. Many years into my stocking, I was totally taken off guard when my husband’s business took a turn for a few months back in 2011, and we lived off that stock for about 4 months. If I hadn’t known it previously, I did at that time, preparing for hard times is pertinent. Thank The Lord for preparing us and seeing us through!
All that said, let’s move on to the logistics of what stocking looks like. How does a person stock on a limited budget? What do we stock? Where do we keep this stock? First off, if a person is on a limited budget begin by adding $5 worth of stock items each week into your grocery shopping. This is a good small start. Many cans of tuna, boxes of crackers, dry beans or rice can be bought for $5 a week. Look for deals, such as the BOGO deals. Many of you are avid coupon clippers and this is a great way to build some stock also. Several times a year we tend to have a little extra money come in, whether it be from an income tax return, overtime, a side job, a gift, etc. Use at least a portion of this and put it into your stock.
One thing I do is to make goals. I put on paper things I use over a year’s time. These items include: food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, batteries, lighters or matches, etc. Then over the next 6 months I will divide out how many extra items of different things I will need to add to my weeks’s grocery list to complete my stock for a year’s time. You may just focus for a couple of months on just toiletries, just rice, or just batteries. Putting things in writing is a huge help to me. Sometimes we don’t realize how much of one item we really use over an extended period of time. Begin by evaluating exactly how much toilet paper your family uses per week. How quickly do you empty a bottle of shampoo? Make lists and keep these handy. It’s also a good idea to check things off and know your stock at all times. If you walk into the grocery store and see an unadvertised sale on an item your family uses, don’t just haphazardly begin loading your cart with these things. Have a written plan.
Consider what will you need in a catastrophic event. Power outages are a possibility in a thunderstorm, let alone any major disaster. Consider your heat source. If you don’t have some back up, such as wood or propane, consider making this one of your first purchases. A propane camping stove can do a lot! A chaffing dish is another idea. Buying a chaffing dish and then the sterno heat is a good inexpensive option to heat simple canned vegetables. One needs to have matches and/or lighters on stock also. These are just a couple of ideas for heating food though. What will be your source to stay warm if there is a major power outage in the cold months? A small wood stove is not an outrageous expense and can many times easily be added in a den or basement with not a lot of remodeling. Craigslist is also an excellent source for finding these at a good deal. For food, think about what your family presently eats? As good of a stock item as canned tuna is because of shelf life, expense and nutrient value, if your family dislikes tuna, then this might not be a good option at all!
I mentioned Joseph above, he knew he could feed the people on easily sourced grains for a good long time. Whole brown rice, millet, and quinoa are excellent sources of nutrient value and can be stored in air-tight, rodent free buckets for a long time. These buckets can be stored underneath shelving units in pantries, in closets, or in basements. Many of us have coat closets that just hold a lot of unnecessary stuff. Consider cleaning out and reorganizing to make room for some buckets, or canned foods. If you are canning your own food, basements or a cool closet make a great place for these items. On that topic, canning your own food is a very thrifty option for stocking up on food. You will have an upfront cost of a pressure cooker or canner and jars, but once you’ve spent this money, it will prove to save you lots over the course of time. There are many food co-ops all over the country which offer great sources for bulk grains at affordable costs. Ask around at local health food stores or farmers markets to find these resources. A web search can locate these also. If food co-ops are not an option, a membership to a local Sams Club or Costco is also a great option for bulk items.
These are brief suggestions on preparing for the future but I will be posting more on this topic over the next little while in greater detail. It seems to be a topic in a lot of people’s realm of thinking these days. Hopefully some of these ideas will lead to other ideas for your family to survive should a time come. Proverbs 31 speaks of a good woman as she prepares in many ways for her family, alongside her husband. In unity we can prepare for the future to keep our families warm and nourished. One last comment though, may we not walk in fear but in The Lord’s leading and His Wisdom alone!