Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Realistic stockpiling

Many people write about their hugh stockpile of things for “just in case”.  Some preparedness websites have calculators to help you with what to have stored away.  Heck, even the CDC has information about preparing for a zombie apocalypse among all it’s other emergency prepping information.

So what items and how many should you have in your stockpile?  Hmm…..    Are you preparing for a possible job loss, a natural disaster, a zombie apocalypse, or just a hedge against inflation?  When you are planning your emergency prepping do you use one of the online prepper calculators?  Do you guesstimate?  Do you just get as many as possible and hope to rotate it fast enough?  Do you have enough room in your house for 450 bottles of shampoo, 12,000 rolls of tissue, fifteen years worth of bottled soda, and a 20 year supply of food you don’t even like to eat?  Just how does someone decide what is a good amount of any item to stockpile?  What should you stock up on and what should you leave behind for other people?

Organizing 2014 073

Have you ever watched an episode of extreme couponing and wondered why the people have so much stuff and they are still wanting more?  Gee whiz it would take me several lifetimes to use the amount of STUFF stored in some of those houses.

Have you ever gone to youtube and watched videos of “prepper” storage areas with years and years worth of food items?  Do you have a storage area capable of storing that much food?  Can you afford to store so much STUFF?   I watched one guy demonstrate how he vacuum packed 500 pounds of rice for two people.  Really? Five hundred pounds of rice for two people?  Gee whiz, how long would it take two people to eat that much rice?  If I ate rice everyday for my whole life I don’t think I’d eat my way through a fraction of that much rice.

Food and kitchen 2014 091

Now seriously, I can’t be the judge of other people’s food storage.  If they have that kind of money, and that much room, then I say more power to them.  Store as much as they want.  Store enough for theirself and several future generations if they want.  Store for their whole neighborhood and the neighbors families too if that’s their choice. It’s their house and their food and their money.

Personally, I don’t have that much money or that much storage space.  I have a very small house.  My house does not have actual storage space.  I don’t have a basement, attic, garage, or shed.  If I keep too much stuff in my house it becomes a “hoarder” house.  I begin to feel like I’m suffocating from all the STUFF.  Then I go on a tossing spree getting rid of all the STUFF I spent hard earned money to buy.  Which is crazy.  Why go buy STUFF in the first place if it’s just going to be tossed out?  Then I feel guilty about throwing away money like that.

SO…. I guess you are wondering by now, how does someone decide what and how many to keep in a pantry?  Let me ask you this, what size is the pantry?  You do know you can’t fit two hundred pounds of food in a fourty pound space, right?  You only have the space you have.  Make the best use of it you are able.

Organizing 2014 062

There are many ways to decide on a storage amount.  Here is the way I came up with the number of  items to stockpile in my own storage.  The first thing I needed to know was exactly what items I use all the time.  Brand name is important only when it’s the only one on the market.  Until a cheaper store brand or off brand is available I’ll use the name brand.  Otherwise brand doesn’t matter, just product type.

I simply needed to know how long something lasts once its opened.  If I open a bottle of dish liquid how long will I be using it before I need to purchase another?  What I do is write the date, right on the container, the day it’s opened.  Here’s an example:

Date item when opened

Date item when opened

The dawn is nearly empty.  There is just a tiny bit left.  I opened it on March 1st.  So now I know the dawn has lasted almost four months.  For a year supply I’d need 3 bottles this size.  The bottle size is 48 ounces.  If I find a smaller bottle on sale I would buy enough bottles to equal the same amount.

I date items of food when opened too.  I don’t buy my food in a single serving size.  Some do but not me.  Anyway, items like flour, sugar, pasta, mustard, ketsup, spices, coffee, jelly, and stuff like that are dated the day they are opened too.  So some of my food items have two dates on them.  One is an expiration date so I know to rotate it.  The other date is the opening date.  My home canned (bottled) foods are dated with the day and batch number of when it’s processed.  I try to use the food up within a year.  I keep track of how many I canned on which day.  The following year if there are jars left unused then I know I had too many.

Food and kitchen 2014 018

Heck, I even date things like light bulbs and batteries.  By keeping track of what I used, and how long it lasted, I soon had an estimation of what to keep in my stockpile.  A stockpile list can be a simple sheet of paper or it can be more elaborate.  My stockpile guide is actually a part of my grocery price book.

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