My parents greatly blessed us this past week by purchasing a 25 pound bag of rice from local health food store on our behalf.
Isn't that the best gift ever?
I am in love with this rice for two reasons:
1. It came from my parents, which makes me think of home, which makes me very happy
and 2. It is less than a quarter of the price per pound that it is in small bags at the local grocery store.
For 25 pounds of this organic, short-grain, gluten-free, non-GMO rice we paid $38. What incredible savings from having to buy the 1 lb. bags at the store!
Sometimes, I just really enjoy buying in bulk. Though not always, sometimes it really doesn't make a lot of sense.
When we made the trek down south almost two months ago, I brought our three-gallon buckets of grains and rapadura with us. We've been very blessed to have them. As I tell Stu often, if I've got meat, grains, and cheese I can make anything in the world.
Because we've been working so fervently on getting our debt and budget in order through the Dave Ramsey program, I've been thinking a lot about these bulk food purchases and how they can be a real struggle to save up for throughout the year. And because we only get paid on a monthly basis, we really can't blow a big chunk of our grocery budget to restock one of our bulk foods when we run out (or at the end of the month we'd be pretty hungry).
That being said, we still have a few options when it comes to stocking up.
1. It's possible to spend, say, $10 less every week on groceries. That would leave us about $40 at the end of the month to save in an envelope for when it's time to order wheat, or oats, or rapadura, or olive oil, etc. While this seems like it'd be an easy way to save for such purchases, I've found it hard to keep to our already restricted food budget – it always seems like ‘something' comes up that pushes us right up to the line. Like buying dog food or something. And without our gardens and free sources of fruit this year, we are completely reliant on purchasing all our produce from local market. Let's just say, it's tight.
2. Another option would be to find a way to make a little bit of extra month. Any extra brought in could be used to save for these purchases. I am favoring this option, mostly because it would allow us to have a bit of breathing room in the food budget. I would love to have $100 or $200 extra per month that could be exclusively used to stock our pantry and freezer, especially for months where the budget is tighter than normal (ahem, giant electricty bill, ahem). We're currently working on ways that this could be a viable option for us.
3. Lastly, we've been ‘blessed' enough to get a pretty significant tax return the past few years, since Stu has been a full time student. While we've already decided to primarily use this for debt payoff (it's not easy to be obedient to Dave's financial plan), I do feel it's important to reserve a certain amount of this money for large food purchases, such as our annual quarter-steer that we purchase. We had to sell off our last quarter before we made the giant move and I have been missing it like crazy. Not only is it a far more economical way to buy quality beef, but it's also so much easier to always have meat accessible. I very much look forward to when we can make another purchase. Using a larger sum of money, whenever you happen to come across one, can be a great way for the annual stock up of products.
I'm currently working on putting together a spreadsheet of what foods (and how much of them) we use every year. This will help me to price them from local suppliers and calculate exactly how much money we need to reserve each year. While I am not including produce, eggs & milk (which we get from local suppliers) or various grocery store items, I will include all the products we purchase in bulk, such as:
– Soft white wheat
– Hard white wheat
– Rapadura (whole cane sugar)
– Olive oil
– Vinegar (rice, balsamic, and apple cider)
– Baking soda
– Coconut oil
– Whole fryer chickens
– Raw cheese
– Sea salt
Am I forgetting stuff? Most definitely. But it's a start. And it's my goal this week to finish the spreadsheet.
As soon as I do, I'll share it with you. If I can be tech-savvy enough to figure out how to do that.
And speaking of bulk foods and giant electricity bills, we shut off the small window unit that was in the sun room where we keep the buckets of grains. It is now approximately 100 degrees in there at all times. I was worried that critters would get into the buckets (hey, I'm not paranoid, have you seen Alabama bugs?!) so I decided (for the meantime) to store the buckets in our large chest freezer. I can't imagine anything more sad than finding fifty pounds of wheat have been compromised by bugs. I also decided to store the new bag of rice in the freezer (in smaller ziplocs), just in case the humidity or bugs could cause damage.
Okay, fine, I may be paranoid.
And on a side-note, I think it's important to point out that security (be it financial, emotional, or food-storage-oriented) can be found nowhere else but in our Heavenly Father. While it may be encouraging to have a freezer full of beef or a large savings account, truthfully all is of the Lord and all of these ‘securities' are temporal. I'm slowly learning this lesson, as I've had to let go of so many these past few months. It's a painful process.
Do any of you readers have a wonderful way that YOU save up for your bulk food purchases? How do you make it work with your budget?