I was asked how I built my stockpile to this level. I realized it was an answer for a post, not a comment, because it was a little too involved.
I love having a stockpile, and have always kept one on hand for many reasons. The main reasons is that it saves me money and time. I have usually lived in the country and trips to town are a project, so I like to keep a lot of things on hand. It also comes in handy during times when money is scarce–it’s like another form of savings in my “bank.” I also love the freedom of being able to cook almost any recipe I feel like cooking, at any time (notice I said “almost?”)
Here’s how I grew mine:
1) I buy in bulk. Rob really buys in bulk. For instance, a while back, he saw a 50 pound bag of white rice for around $21. Yes, 50 pounds! It does not go bad quickly, so is still fine, and we are eating from it often. I buy 25 pound bags of pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, split peas, sugar, brown sugar, and popcorn. I repackage these items into glass gallon jars, plastic ice cream buckets, ziplocks, etc. Things that go rancid sooner, such as brown rice, I usually buy in 5 or 10 pound sizes, although I have bought that in the 25’s once or twice.
I buy cases of things I cannot can or freeze myself, such as mandarin oranges and mushrooms, when they are on a good sale.
I even buy produce in bulk, during the winter. For instance, a 6-pack bag of romaine at Costco or Cash and Carry is a lot less expensive than buying the heads singly at the store most of the time.
2) We grow as much as possible ourselves and store it. Rob has raised turkeys, chickens and pigs to butcher. We raise chickens for eggs and usually do not have to buy any for years at a time. We don’t get a lot of them during the winter, but I think I’ve only bought 2 cartons during the last 5 years or so, except for recently.
We grow a very large garden, which includes berries, and can and freeze a lot of it, and also eat as much as we can fresh. I can hundreds of jars of fruits and vegetables each year, and we currently have 4 freezers full of meat and produce. I process produce early in the morning and late at night during the peak of the season. By the time I plant, weed, water, pick and process, I have many, many hours into my end product, but it’s worth it to me. I know what’s in it, and where it came from . The home-canned tuna is some we bought from a fisherman at Newport, Oregon. I also got some salmon this past year from the Indians at Cascade Locks, but we froze that.
We are moving this year, so I anticipate using up the excess and going back to bulk canning and freezing next year. I do not know if we will have property to raise meat or not, until we see what we get for our next home. We sold the chickens for the same reason.
3) What I cannot grow, I usually scrounge from friends and family. For example, my sister has a peach farm, and gives me all I can use. I am willing to drop my daily plans and scurry over to someone’s house to pick the produce myself. I am willing to go whenever is convenient for them, even if it means changing my plans. That’s a big one. I cannot tell you how many people would love to have some of my excess garden produce, IF I deliver it to them, which usually means picking it on an already busy day and driving a distance to deliver it. (I’m not talking about when I’ve offered to drop something by someone’s house–If I offer, I have time) Very few are willing to come get it, but that’s why I’m an easy person for others to offer the extra produce to.
On the rare occasion that I cannot grow or scrounge something, I u-pick it or buy it at a farm stand for a low price. The area of Oregon that we live in is very fertile, and things grow well so are quite reasonable in price when in season. Pears and Gravestein apples are 2 things I usually buy, and I buy them by the bushel for around $20-$25 a bushel.
4)I watch the sales carefully and buy a lot of things we use frequently when they come on sale for a low price. Cheese and butter are good examples of this. I have purchased 8 bricks of cheese before during a week, if the price is low enough. They store well. I may have to go back a lot, or send Rob, but–hey, Lovana works at a store–we are there a lot picking her up.
If I can’t afford a lot of something, and it’s a great price, I buy 2. One for the current meal, and one to store.
5) If I have extra money, I often buy a bunch of things from Grocery Outlet, Wheeler Dealer (scratch and dent store), or other places that may have high-quality products for cheap that are close to date, or they are changing the label on, etc. I especially get items to pack lunches and organic or gluten-free items that way.
6) I go to Bob’s Red Mill and buy my gluten-free flours and whole grains, or order them on-line. Anything from Bob’s is high quality, and lasts a long time. Things like millet, etc. last for a long time. They swell up when you cook them. You get a lot of bang for your buck with whole grains. I look for clearance items, such as some gluten free pancake mix I recently picked up at Fred Meyers. I only got 2, since I’m not supposed to be stockpiling right now:)
Last, but not least, I use my stockpile. I store things I use, and I use what I’ve stored. I look at what I have before I plan menus and plan the meals around what’s in the freezer, cupboard, and garden, and go from there. I rotate things and clean and sort and organize it every year, usually late spring so the freezers are ready for the new crop of garden veggies.