Na Na pinches her pennies

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.

Just in time food

Have you ever heard of the just in time food distribution system?  It’s the way empty store shelves are refilled just in time for new shoppers.  Produce is picked, processed, and shipped over hundreds of miles just in time to fill those recently emptied store shelves.  Animals are slaughtered, packaged, and show up in the store just in time to refill emptied refrigerated bins.


Most consumers don’t buy food for long term storage because they are able to find fruits and vegetables from all parts of the world in stores at any time of the year despite the limited shelf life.  All goods sold are available in every city or small town in every month of the year thanks to quick shipping and a balance between demand and supply.  No longer do you need to wait for a fruit to be in season.  You can buy them any time of year from someplace around the world.

Instead of long term storage most people choose to pick up a few items on the way home from work or to shop weekly.  My SIL chooses to shop monthly.  She buys only enough to last a month and then will go once a week for a few extras she forgot.  I do my shopping on her monthly schedule because I’m the driver for that day.  I don’t do the extra weekly trips as she does.  In this area there is only one food bank day a month that’s accessible by bus.  I can, freeze, or dehydrate as much as I’m able for long term storage.  When I do buy from a grocery I’m purchasing staples and other items never given out in a food bank line.


The just in time store strategy is all well and good until some major disaster disrupts the delicate balance between demand and supply.  That would include the disruption of the supply of raw goods to food processing plants.  What would disrupt that chain of food processing and store shelves?  Well there are many possibilities.  Suppose there is a flood or fire and the crop is destroyed so it can’t be gathered from the fields.   Suppose there is an explosion at a gasoline distribution center and gas is not available for the long haul trucks.  Suppose the cost of gas rises sharply which causes a slow down of distribution.

Suppose Trump puts the US into a trade war with China, Mexico, and India.  Suppose those countries suddenly decided to impose sanctions on the US.  Have you ever really noticed how many foods come from those three countries? Stores would sell out and the US manufacturers would not be able to keep up with demand.  Foreign supplied items. if you could find them, would be very expensive.   So much of what we buy is produced in other countries and relatively few from the USA that the sudden cut-off from those places would create a huge imbalance of that just in time strategy.


We all know how quickly store shelves go completely bare when there is the mere mention of snow.  Say the word snow during a weather report and store shelves quickly run out of milk, bread, and snack foods.  The same for a hurricane.

Our economy is in such a turmoil these days that at some point people must start anticipating their own needs and begin storing things to last through an interruption of the just in time economics.  We must understand how our ancestors stocked a pantry to last from one growing season until the next growing season and go back to those basics.


I have no magic insight in to the future.  All I can do is hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  No matter what that “worst” might be.



12 comments on “Just in time food

  1. LISA B
    February 11, 2017

    Very thoughtful post. I really enjoy your blog, I’ve been trying to read your archives to catch up. I grew up in rural Maine, my mother grew our veg, and canned or froze most of it. We had chickens and ducks laying eggs, apple and pear trees, wild raspberry and blueberry patches. I always thought we had lots of food. Now living near Boston the last 30 yrs, I still have it ingrained in me to keep a good stockpile of essentials on hand. We eat an ancestral type diet due to my autoimmune disease, so we have a lot of canned tuna and salmon, dried beans and rice stocked up. I have lots of frozen veg in case of a supply chain interruption like you mention, but it could run out if something happened. I’m going to try planting kale, radishes, and learning more about perennial plants that can be low maintenance, and that the squirrels won’t eat. I’ve been fermenting sauerkraut and gingered carrots, which would be a source of vit c if there were no citrus fruits available, is affordable, and can keep for a long time . I agree, if we all keep in mind what our ancestors did to live, there would be a lot less anxiety, less food waste, and more food for people that need it.

    Here is a link to a like minded person I think you will like. GDONNA and her husband have been living like it’s the 1940s to keep their budget down and live with intention . Hope you enjoy.
    Lisa B.


    • Anita
      February 12, 2017

      Thanks Lisa. I’m hoping to grow a few things this year too. I really like fresh fruit and veggies to eat but the cost is often more than I can afford. Its only been three or four years since I had a small garden but I’ve forgotten alot of what I knew. I’m sure it will come back to me once I get started. This new place has a couple of challenges to work out before I can start to grow anything. Lots of shade and ground hogs.

      Yes, I’ve come across Donna’s blog a couple of times when researching a recipe. Very interesting blog. I sometimes wonder if they are serious re-enactors having some fun or just a couple trying to be frugal. These days many people are researching the old ways of frugal living and eating. Some go the extra step like Donna and her husband are doing.


  2. Margie in Toronto
    February 10, 2017

    There is a bit of a flap on in the UK at the moment because of the lack of salad ingredients. Apparently it is due to bad weather in Spain which has affected the crops – therefore shortages in the countries that import as Spaniards are keeping what is available for themselves! Just one little thing in one country can seriously impact so many others right down the line!
    Canadians are encouraged to have at least a 72hr emergency kit ready at all times – and these days to keep a 2 to 4 week supply of basics on hand. I try to keep 1 to 2 months worth of food on hand (if I had to eat only from my own supplies) and I am presently looking at restocking as items go on sale and depending upon what gaps I see in my pantry. My financial situation will change radically once I am retired (no option) so I am trying to be pro-active while I still have some extra money on hand.
    These past couple of weeks I’ve been concentrating on canned items plus cleaning supplies and toiletries (I am aiming to have at least a 6 month supply of cleaners & toiletries, laundry supplies – that sort of thing) as these items can be rather expensive to replace.
    We are expecting an “Alberta Clipper” to roll in this afternoon and dump a lot of snow on us – we can cope but sometimes I just don’t want to go out in that kind of weather so it’s always comforting to know that I don’t have to!
    However, my friends laugh at me – but I’m not the one running out of toilet paper or milk or teabags at the most inconvenient time – and I can always cook or bake something so I always think I get the last laugh.
    And I know that people complain about a lack of space – but I live in a 1 bedroom apt. in a large city and I don’t drive – all my shopping is done using my trolley or simply carrying it myself and I either walk or use the subway. My pantry is built into what was my coat closet so it’s not large (I have a free standing wardrobe for all the coats) so it can be done. I don’t wish hardship on anyone but I do think we have to be responsible for ourselves. And if I never face that emergency situation then at least I have the convenience of not HAVING to shop for something plus I’ve saved money because I only buy an item when it is on sale – WIN – WIN!


  3. boblosan
    February 9, 2017

    Thank you for writing about this.I’m learning a lot from you and I long to incorporate it into my household. My hubby has an aversion to planning ahead. He doesn’t see the reason for buying and preserving food. He dislikes that I buy from Farm Markets or try to buy the buy 1 get 2 free or buy 3 for $1 fruits or veggies so I can freeze them or preserve them another way. I am still trying, but it seems it’s too little, too late often.


    • Anita
      February 9, 2017

      At least you are doing what you can do. Some people simply can’t be persuaded to something else. I asked my brother why he didn’t want his wife stocking more than a few foods and he said it was his responsibility to provide for her. If he didn’t then he failed. Nothing I’ve said to him has changed his mind. She is just the same. She says the most food preserving she will ever do is shove a package in the freezer. Sigh.


    February 9, 2017

    I was going through business school, when “just in time” was the new buzzword in inventory thinking. Our professor stressed that in Japan, their culture & industries were tightly interwoven so that it was possible to do it that way…
    Decades later, the USA has become much more interwoven, eg think of Amazon which handles 80%+ deliveries of consumer goods!!
    How could anyone deal with even a few days interruption of that??
    My parents didn’t survive the original Great Depression by having only a little bit set aside. Why should I doubt their wisdom??


    • Anita
      February 9, 2017

      Absolutely, our parents and grandparents knew how to survive anything.


    • T
      February 9, 2017

      Amazon and the postal services between them messed up about a third of my orders in 2016, I had been trying to use them more now I don’t get out as much but needless to say I would not now rely on them for essentials!

      Emergencies often mean loss of power so fridge and freezer food can quickly become inedible in warmer climates.

      Modern medicines many need to be stored in the fridge so an alternative worked out ahead of time; this is very important in USA where to deteriorate say a month’s supply might simply not be covered again on insurance and be subsequently unaffordable…

      If people don’t have a few hundred spare dollars to evacuate ahead of a disaster they are trapped; if they don’t pay an insurance to cover flood or ‘uninsured losses/deductible’…

      Well, there’s a ‘plan ahead’ pattern to survival.

      It’s not that I think every circumstance is even reasonable ( terrible US health insurance or FEMA for example ) and we can protect against every eventuality, just that being paralyzed with fear of bills we can’t afford or no place to go, well people die from that.

      I just love this website, you have been through a lot of things personally and practically Anita, I am working on your low carbohydrate diet to control diabetes that worked for you, and the first thing I do now is toss the Kroger coupons that are for processed goods away.

      I am looking for alternative low-carb low additive foods for everything!

      Got caught out on double priced cauliflower the other day though despite you writing about pricing techniques a few months ago- 98 c a lb was up against signs of 98 c each, the definition of what the 98 c being for in smaller fainter print….it made a tasty cauliflower mash but frozen would have worked out way cheaper.


  5. Leslie Saunders
    February 9, 2017

    I am not a doomsdayer, but I do think we need to be prepared to do as much for ourselves as we can. The present political and social climate tells me anything is possible. Thanks for your reminder on how it is out there.


    • Anita
      February 9, 2017

      You are so right Leslie. I’m with you. Anything is possible. Then again, Even Mother Nature has a way of reminding all of us who really is in charge. She tells us to be prepared for anything.


  6. Jen
    February 9, 2017

    I have been thinking about this, too. Especially with foods like avocado which are a major element for some restaurants like Chipotle. If Trump aggravates out trading partners, we will feel the effects really quick.


    • Anita
      February 9, 2017

      This was on my mind because I had been reading how the food supply ships to England were destroyed during WW1 & 2 and I had just earlier watched Trump talk about taxing goods imported from Mexico. Geeze, doesn’t he know that when imported goods have a tax added, its not the country selling it that pays the tax, the consumer does. Just like going to the store to buy something, who pays the tax? If he taxes all imported goods we are all gonna suffer.

      Liked by 1 person

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