Saturday, April 26, 2008

Invest in food

Stockpiling advice peppers the web, but I never thought I'd see it in the Wall Street Journal:

You may make better returns on your money by filling up your pantry than by filling up your short term bank account.

Are you stocking up on food now? What are your strategic purchases?

54 comments:

MommySecrets said...

I always stock up for the very short-term (a few months), but I honestly haven't seriously considered heavy stockpiling. But the thought has been crossing my mind more often lately. Meredith, what are YOU stockpiling?

Ann'Re @ Home said...

I have always been trying to stock my pantry up...especially since my hubby's automotive job is so unstable...and also the fact that I shop once a month because it's an hours drive to the city to shop. I like to have lots of the basics like flour, rice, beans, powdered milk, oil, vinegar, pastas and a good stock of the canned things we eat most like tuna, tomatoes, fruits, soups etc.

Cyndi Lewis said...

I always shop at Costco for most items. (The DH works there.)But I usually buy rice and flour in smaller quantities else where simply because of lack of storage space. I'm thinking that will change. I also plan on canning a lot of fresh fruit and veges this year. I'm starting a garden, even though we are renters and helping a friend with hers. We plan to split and "put up" the bounty.

Momala said...

I have been stockpiling flour and freezing it. I have 25lbs each of AP flour and bread flour, and 15 lbs of wheat flour. I have a large freezer, so storing this hasn't been a problem. I have a Seal-A-Meal, so I freeze the flour in 3 or 4 lb portions. I have heard that wheat product prices are going to increase, so I figure I will at least be able to make our own bread. I am planning on buying more wheat flour because I usually make wholewheat bread.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Yes, I wrote a whole series on my blog about recession proofing (having gone through it in the 70s & 80s... I remember what worked then).

We are on a very limited income so I stock up on two things: the items I use all the time that are on a great sale price, and...

the items I know will continue to go up in price a lot (especially those that must be imported... like coffee).

I try to get those items on sale, too. Just yesterday I was at the grocery store when they were clearancing brown sugar in individual packages (kind of like what Crisco sticks look like).

I bought four or five of them to put back.

Joyce said...

I think we need to be careful here that foresight and frugality don't turn into selfish hoarding. There's a fine line there. I have often bought in bulk, especailly when I see something on sale. But when I hear that there is a shortage of rice, so people are running out to make sure they get "their share", I think that is hoarding. Instead of that attitude, we should be trusting in God to provide what we really need, and He won't do that at the expense of others, because abundance is His to give.

hsgbdmama said...

I've stocked up on some flour and beans, which should get us through a few months. I need to rearrange the freezer a bit to provide for more room to store the flour.

I'm also helping a friend with her garden this year in exchange for food, which I want to learn how to can some and freeze some. I also plan on making a makeshift root cellar in my basement too for storage.

Next year I plan on having a garden here -- later this fall we will dig up a space and get it mulched good so it is ready to go next spring.

We like to have lots of basics on hand too, and it works out well.

Personally I do think it irresponsible for analysts to tell people to start hoarding food as that is more likely to set off a panic than anything else. :-/

Jen said...

All the stock of stockpiling reminds me a bit of Y2K and we all know what a fiasco that turned out to be. I'm just praying for the rapture! :-)

Anonymous said...

just bought 25 pounds of rice at Costco. we also store canned meat, pinto beans, canned tomatoes and other veggies. we are retired seniors on very small income.

Anonymous said...

Having a well-stocked pantry is one of the most important lessons my mother taught me. This is a very lean time for us right now....frankly, I do not know how I would be able to get along if I didn't have my freezer & pantry. That way, sometimes I will go to the store for only things like milk, eggs, some cheese, & maybe a lettuce. Wise stockpiling in the good times means less panic in the bad times. We cannot, any of us, know what the future holds, but we can try to ride out the economic storms that surely happen in our lives.

Now, eventually, I'm going to have to replenish the pantry. It's not Mother Hubbard's cupboard yet, but I've been eyeballing certain things, & I know I have to think toward getting back what I'm using up these past several weeks. I think canned tomatoes are a good thing to have on hand, as well as the basics like flour & sugar, pastas, dried beans, & rice. If your store runs a sale on butter, get as much as they will allow you to buy & freeze it. As far as fresh fruits & veges go, buy the kind that will "keep" (apples, oranges, carrots, potatoes, onions) & then look after them! Put them where they need to be. Read gardening & home-preserving books on the best way to keep produce fresh as long as possible. It's a big job to oversee the food in one's household, but it's not an impossible task.

As a final measure, don't take seconds!

Brenda

momof2girls said...

With the price of fuel skyrocketing, I think that grocery prices (and anything else, for that matter!) are going to continue to increase greatly. I think it's being good stewards of the income we have to make it go further, therefore I am stockpiling items that we use a lot of and won't perish quickly. If you stockpile, you are using less fuel to make grocery store trips, if you are buying it on sale and combined with a coupon that's even better.

Anonymous said...

I have a huge garden every year and can tomatoes, salsa, green beans, pickles, sauerkraut, jellies and I also freeze brocolli, cauliflower, corn, and shredded zuchinni for bread. My husband and I farm in Nebraska and though grain prices are the highest they've been since we started farming, our expenses (i.e. fuel, fertilizers, etc) are through the roof. So, even though our checks for grain we've sold are much bigger, our expenses are so much higher that we aren't really seeing any dramatic increase in our income. With grain prices being so high, I am stockpiling things when they go on sale such as flours, rice, pastas, cereals, sugars, etc.

Kristina

Barb said...

I saw the WSJ article mentioned on the news last night, but didn't have time to look at it until today. It bothers me in that I think that it will create a panic rather than help people. We stockpile food when we find good deals and we'll be getting the most we can out of our homegrown fruits and veggies, but I'm not rushing out stockpile in the way that the article mentions. I really wish that they had talked about the frugal mindset, but that doesn't sell newspapers, does it?

Anonymous said...

We need to do all things in moderation. I remember some folks bought a warehouse and stockpiled for "Y2K" and I heard of another person who even bought presents for future birthdays, "just in case." Every one of us should have a few pounds of beans and rice on hand but, better than that, we need to seek the Lord and entrust our lives to Him who has said of His own, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
Mrs. L.

Kathy said...

Right now we are too broke to stockpile but I will share with you as a farmer's wife what he says to stock pile. Your basic grain products. Flour,sugar,corn meal,coffee,tea,rice of course. Anything that can go will. As he says, "they ain't seen nothing yet." He is talking about the price of food.

It is a complicated issue, I will post on my blog about one day. The bottom line is we as American farmers have been hurting for decades, and it will not be easy for us to make it.

Scribbit said...

Our church has counseled people to maintain an emergency food supply for decades now and it makes so much sense to have a stockpile on hand regardless of food prices. Unemployment, natural disasters, there are plenty of reasons why having a store in the basement is a wise thing. We actually have one year's worth of basics: wheat, sugar, oil, salt, proteins and about three-six months of extras like spices, canned fruit and veggies. And of course chocolate chips. Completely essential.

Janette said...

I have enough for us to live off for a month- nothing more.Veggies and meat in the freezer (which went out in the ice storm), rice and canned meats, veggies and fruits in the pantry. I attempt to not use the car more often than absolutely needed. Since my husband has been disabled for four months- I have come to appreciate what we ARE able to do at home.
If life gets tough we will figure it out. God provides. Maybe my adult children will have to come this way and farm the land :>) Do you think the military will let them out for that?

Anonymous said...

Well, I honestly believe that it is very DIFFERENT now than Y2K. I never stock piled or did anything special because of Y2K. Now, the prices are going through the roof. There has been recall after recall on food. Fuel prices are scary, there is talk of job lay offs, and of coarse the morgtage mess. We are in a 'resession' now and I am not too sure that a DEPRESSION is not going to come. Yes, I do stock pile some things. I do so mainly to get the best price possible for my family. I stock pile dry milk, sugar, flour, dry beans, and some meat. I have enough paper products for my family for a year. Also laundry soap that I have brought using coupons and sales to get for less than $2.00...that is my criteria for laundry soap..less than $2.00.
I always rotate my supplies, using the oldest first...Roxie

Kathryn said...

I stockpile because its the way I was raised to do. I can and freeze as much as I am able to do in the summer, since my garden produce is practically free. I don't like to make emergency runs to the grocery store every time I want to make a dish, so I keep 25 lbs of flour and sugar, etc on hand most of the time. I do what I can to stretch my grocery budget. Every 3 months I also make about 40 - 50 entrees for the freezer, and believe it or not, that save me a lot of $$.

Shannon@Idylwild said...

I used to do a much better job of keeping my pantry stocked than I do now. It's been on my mind quite a bit though lately. I like what Amy D. said in the Twightwad Gazette (I'm paraphrasing) "would you rent out the space beneath your bed for $75 - you could save that much by storing stockpiled groceries under there." :)

Jennifer F. said...

Wow, that article is *really* interesting. Thank you for pointing it out!

Right now I'm focusing more on getting organized. Unfortunately, my efforts to stockpile food have typically resulted in wasting lots of food. I realized that I have to first have a basic level of orderliness to my pantry and cooking routine before I can efficiently use bulk food.

Along similar lines, I've taken a renewed interest in gardening. I always thought of it as something people did as a hobby, but now I see it as an important way to help with the cost of feeding our family.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing that fascinating article. Just linked to it from my links blog.

Meredith said...

I am not sure what or if I'm going to stockpile.

We may very well be moving in the next couple of months. A stuffed pantry does not show well in a house for sale, and I definitely don't want to move 50 lb sacks of grain in a Uhaul!

My Boaz's Ruth said...

I'm actualy trying to cut back on stockpiling at the moment. We're moving to Texas in September and I don't want to ship my stockpile!

SK and Family said...

I am stocking up on food, but only because I have been couponing.

For Americans, rice is not a staple--it is an inexpensive side dish. We have other choices. And, America exports rice--we have plenty of rice!

Maybe people should stop buying rice for now--go on a rice "fast" and let our country send it to the starving countries.

Mrs. Pivec said...

You know, I haven't really stockpiled anything. After dinner I'll have to come back here and read over some of these comments! We do have a certain amount of things in the pantry from last year's hurricane season and we'll refurbish that as it gets closer to June.

Wanted to let you know that I responded to the comment you left at my blog. You may want to take a peek.

Also, I am sweatin' there with you girl. While our van has air, the smaller Saturn's AC - that my dh uses to commute - has been proclaimed officially dead. It's going to be a long, hot summer. :)

LeeAnn said...

Rice is a staple in my house. Without rice, meals would be very monotonous. Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. We can't eat wheat and most other alternative flours are VERY expensive. So my pantry relies heavily on 20 lb bags of rice, 20 lb bags of potatoes and the occasional bag of gluten-free pasta, cornflour tortillas and so on.

Today I went to Costco and they had NO rice except Uncle Ben's and that's not "real" rice in my book. (tongue in cheek) We almost always eat short grain white or brown rice. Don't care for long grain rice so much.

SK: Plenty of Americans rely on rice as a staple, not just us celiacs and gluten-intolerant folk. There are huge immigrant communities that are not going to switch over from rice to wheat just because it's expensive. It would be a huge change in how they cook, what they cook, etc. Rice is plenty American. It's not just for those "other" countries.

I would stock up more now if I had good containers to put things into. I considered buying the 50# bag of sugar today, but I don't yet have an adequate container and in the length of time it would take me to use it all, I'm certain it would either spill, be gotten into by pests, etc.

The average American is waking up to the reality of the effect of high oil prices and our dependence on foreign imports. While people shouldn't engage in panic buying, it's smart to have at least a two or three month food supply in the house.

My general thoughts on stockpiling vs hoarding: If you're buying more than you can use before it spoils, that's hoarding. If you know you will eat it before spoiling and would have bought it anyway, go on and stockpile it.

Tubo Family said...

While I appreciate SK's sentiment to avoid hoarding that may affect other anywhere in the world, I have to second Leeann that rice is a daily staple in our house. I buy it in 20 lb sacks and wish I had stocked up on at least one extra a month ago. But I am grateful that we bought a 1/4 steer this last fall. I stock up on canned goods as I find our favorites on sale and always have a 1-2 week supply on hand in our emergency kit.

Tubo Family said...

What about stockpiling the "Forever" stamp?

Brandy said...

We just did some major stockpiling for the first time. We did it, really, more as part of our family emergency plan than due to the rise in costs, though of course that is a consideration. Our stockpiling was actually all done with only two of our children in mind. This is because they have major food allegies to casein (milk), gluten, and soy. Since these are some of the most readily available foods, we became concerned about how our children would survive emergencies! So we just placed an order for 150 pounds of various gluten-free grains. I have no idea if it'll all fit in my pantry, but we'll figure something out.

SK and Family said...

Rice is not a staple as in you can survive without it.

When I see the footage of crowds of skinny people holding out their rice bowls, crying and starving...I would rather that they have the rice.

chiara said...

I really like corn but due to the increased price, I started buying 3 lb. cans of corn at Costco. I use what I need and store the rest in a vaccuum saver container (we got the Vaccuum Saver for our wedding). :)

Martha A. said...

I am not really stockpiling any more than normal, but I buy things in bulk when I get them for good prices and I still am. We have some basic foods that will be enough for 6 months to a year, but not everything.

Amanda on Maui said...

The problem with saying, "Let's send the rice to people who need it" is: Who is going to pay for it? Are you going to pay for it? The farmers who grow it here in the U.S. and other countries have to get paid by someone or else they'll be the starving families holding out their food bowls.

I am also gluten-free lactose-free and I buy rice in 25lb bags. I have a 25lb bag of brown rice sitting in my pantry for when I finish getting through the 5lb bag I bought recently. I eat a lot of rice. I also am going to be buying some Masa Harina (corn flour) to make tortillas, cookies, and other baked goods with.

I'm just starting to work with dried beans, but I may move into buying those in bulk as well.

I also buy canned tomatoes in bulk, as well as toilet paper (Hawaii has been left short on that one too many times).

I don't usually like to buy meats in bulk, though I did just buy some more chicken at Costco (Foster Farms). I buy my beef from local ranches as it is more fresh, more humanely slaughtered, and the cows actually have a ton of acreage to roam. The power fluctuates a little too much for me to like to store meat in the freezer.

I buy in bulk what I know I will use the most, and what will last the longest without insects and/or power outages destroying it.

Calina said...

We too are stockpiling on the essentials for our family, especially rice.

We normally grow a 1/2 acre garden and put up about 600 quarts of canned goods per year because of our severe food allergies. Another thing we did this year was to purchase heirloom seeds for our garden. By saving these seeds we can have seed to plant every year. It was pricier this year, but it will be cheaper and give us piece of mind for the future.

SK: You just don't get it, there are many out there that depend on rice as a staple. It's not a choice. We simply can not survive with the "normal" choices of food out there. We haven't eaten "normal food" for years, not by choice, but medical neccessity. I have multiple food allergies, (gluten, wheat, yeast, casein, corn, soy, etc). Why would I want to see my own children suffer with abdominal pain, rash, and autism symptoms again, when I have the means to stock up on rice.

Steph said...

Hurricane season starts soon so I need to stock the pantry anyway. Freezer stocking is not a good idea in the summer (I have lost too many freezers full of food after a hurricane, so this time of year we start "eating from the freezer" to get rid of everything in there).

I also have children with food intolerances - I guess we should stock up on the things they eat in case they become prohibitively expensive.

Who would have ever though 4 years ago when I got 2 lattes a day from Starbucks and we were swimming in "fake equity" that I'd be stockpiling rice. Amazing.

Mar said...

For those who are worried that stockpiling is going against God's will, I think it's more like Joseph having the Egyptians stock their warehouses in the 7 good years so they had the means to feed everyone during the 7 years of crop failures. I think it is prudent and each individual needs to decide for themselves when their stockpiling has gone overboard and become hoarding.

Tubo Family said...

SK--you obviously have a big heart but a stubborn mind! I agree with you seeing and knowing others in the world are starving is horrible and seeking a solution is very honorable. But those children holding out rice bowls would be just as nourished to have them filled with cracked wheat, corn or oat porridge--they are asking for rice because that is a local crop or common commodity in their area and perhaps a cultural preference. So we could just as well ask ourselves to forgo buying bread (wheat) or tortilla chips (corn). For my family, rice is a preferred taste and texture and, like some of the other posters here, it is compatible with son's food allergies.

Karen said...

Ooh, I look forward to reading all the comments. We have been thinking about buying a freezer now that we are expecting our third child. I have never given stockpiling food much thought, except for taking advantage of sales on our favorite bread and ice cream. I am interested in some make-ahead cooking as well.

SK and Family said...

LOL~I'll make this short!

The rice shortage is a result of bad weather in Australia. The countries would import their rice from America instead of Australia for now.

I also want to say that the gals who singled me out by name need to have a little grace in reading and responding to comments. Pretend that we are chatting in person--would you be so rude? I hope not...
Thanks,
Katherine

Karen said...

Just a few notes -- We did make cash donations to two international charities last week to hopefully help with the international food shortage, and I hope to make more donations soon. I feel Americans are very fortunate to have the food we do, and I am happy to give to people in places where the lack of food is a grave life and death concern right now. Food riots show the level of hunger and desperation that some people are facing.

Second, I think the difference between stockpiling and hoarding is the difference between practical planning ahead, and acting out of fear. If we become afraid, and let fear drive our actions, that's where we need to actively choose faith instead.

Meredith said...

Let's be nice!

I just thought the WSJ article had an interesting angle on the stockpiling issue--regardless of where you draw the ethical line.

LeeAnn said...

Katharine, I don't think anyone meant to be (or is being) particularly rude to you. Maybe it's that "hard to read my tone of voice over the internet" thing going on.

But to me, at least, it seems like you are suggesting that Americans should stop buying rice to feed the world's poor. OK.

What I and several others have said is that rice is the food we can eat (because of allergies) and therefore there are few options out there besides potatoes and cornflour that are as affordable and edible as rice. And some can't even eat corn products!

So I do not see any acknowledgement by you that buying rice in bulk might be OK with you--not that I need your permission--but it's nice to be approved of by others, as you might have noticed.

When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I had to go through my entire kitchen and pantry. I gave away every food item that had gluten in it, much of it unopened nonperishable goods. I was happy to give the unopened food away to the food bank and the opened items to dear friends.

So I think it's fine to suggest that Americans have plenty of food relative to the rest of the world, so let's all give some more. But it seems a little unfair to pick on us rice-lovers. A staple food is a food you generally rely on to form the bulk of your meals and keep a good supply of in your pantry. It drives me a little bonkers that you don't seem willing to acknowledge that rice can be a staple for Americans.

Another little funny quirk of the internet. I'll get over it, I'm sure. :)

SK and Family said...

Picking on rice-lovers? Wait, does that make me a ricist? :)

3beansalad said...

I linked to the same article on my blog! I'm getting ready to move in a few months, so I've been trying to "eat down" my stockpile!

Amy said...

Just a thought here,

Is this maybe part of the 'buy for the sake of the country' kind of thing? Yes, prices are definately going up and stocking a pantry ahead of a price hike is great, but do articles and talk of this nature become a self fufilling prophecy? I mean, it's not like we think we can stock up for a time and then prices will fall. When they go up, they'll stay up.

I mean, most of us are about to get that rebate which govt wants us to use to stimulate the economy. And since the amount of goods actually made in this country seem to be dwindling fast, how better to ensure that the money we spend in this coutry stays here than to encourage us to spend on food-- not to mention most folks feel better about spending on a necessity like food than foreign made consumer goods. Most food that we do import usually gets processed here or is perishable.

Plus I think the folks who are likely to stock up on food (like us) are probably the ones more likely to save the rebate or use it to pay off debt---encouraging them to spend in order to save may be the best way to get folks to spend it.

Just a thought. I'm all for stocking up at good prices. If you can buy from a farmer that's even better, cause you know they won't see any increases after all the middle men get their chunk. I heard a few days ago from a small farmer friend of mine that a small slaughterhouse operation was soliciting farmers and their 'deal' is that the farmer gets one third, the processor gets one third, and the marketer gets another third. Burns me up. But I guess it's more than most farmers get as the national average is farmers get maybe 10% of each dollar spent on food.

Kathy said...

When we raised hogs we would sell about a 10% of what we saw in the store. We would sell directly to customers that wanted to freeze the meat. Processing can be done professionally too. Our cattle are not doing as bad with the profit margin. The corn we have yet to know how we will do this year.

I should add my Hubby is very much knowledgable about hog profit, he saw many go in and out of the hog business. We sold our meat to Bryan Meat, they are picky about the feed and the treatment of the animals. Our pork was the top of heap.

I encourage anyone to buy fresh produce from a local farmer, just hard to find real farmers these days.

Rice and soybeans are both not planted in big areas of Texas. Our climate is not suited to them.

Mar said...

The author of this article was on the Glenn Beck radio show this morning and will be on his TV show on CNN Headline News Tonight. Here's a link to the transcript from the radio interview: http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/196/9251/

Amiyrah said...

I have been stockpiling since January and am now very glad that I decided to start that. With the rise in, well, everything, I'm so happy I can look in my pantry, fridge and freezer and know that if worst came to worst, we would be fine on food and toiletries for months.

Frugalicious said...

The only reason I am stocking food is because I am trying to switch to the pantry method created by Amy Dacyczyn in the Tightwad Gazette. This weekend my husband and I cleaned out the garage to make better use of shelves for storing food. We are doing it to save money not because of a food scare.

I will say it is amazing how much food prices have increased. By watching the price per ounce and using the food I purchased better we saved on average $75 a month. Keeping everything the same we are up $60 from last year! Bleh! Hopefully purchasing more in bulk and starting a pricebook will help.

Anonymous said...

Let's remember to try and keep some extra on hand to share with those who are not able to stock up right now. There may come a time when we will be able to bless them with what the Lord has provided for us right now. Like Joseph. :)
Mrs. L.

Ahorros y cupones en EspaƱol said...

Sad but true...

Sarah Halter said...

I'm with Katherine. Having lived in rural Africa, I definitely see the impact that our buying actions have on people in other countries, particularly poor people in developing countries.

As demand increases and there are supply issues, the prices go up for everybody. The rising food prices affect the poorest people the most. I know many of us are on a very tight budget and understand this VERY well, but I would still propose that most of us will not starve if we have to pay more. We may not eat as well, but we will not go from eating one bowl of staple grain (rice, wheat, corn, etc) a day to eating nothing.

I also see the impact in the low income urban neighborhood where I live right now. Many people are just trying to get some food on the table every day. They don't have the resources to travel to get good deals on large quantities. They don't have enough money to buy more
than a few days worth of food at a time. They can't buy more food at a time than they can carry on the bus. And they don't often don't have the knowledge, training, time and energy to shop for the best deals. Now, as prices go up, people are going hungry (literally) even more often than they used to.

Obviously there are deeper issues in both these situations that need to be addressed (that’s part of my calling in life ☺) but stockpiling food only contributes to making these problems worse.

In my opinion, as several other people have said, stocking up on certain things when you find a good deal is one thing, but hoarding is another, especially when our hoarding contributes to raising prices for everyone. I agree with the person who suggested there are aspects of self-fulfilling prophecy to this situation.

I understand that everyone has their own needs and their own situation. I understand that you might benefit from getting food at a slightly cheaper price. I understand that some of us not stockpiling food will not make a huge difference because everyone else is still doing it. But I would encourage you to think about the bigger picture before you make decisions on whether and what to stockpile.

Personally, I am shopping carefully every week and have a reasonably stocked pantry and freezer. I still buy or pick produce from local farmers to freeze. In other words, I'm not doing much differently, but my food purchases are more limited because the grocery money just doesn't go as far right now. That’s okay with me, though, because I see the longer term, bigger picture and I know that these volatile prices might result in addressing some of the deeper problems in our modern food system.

And hopefully, after this absurdly long post, I’ll still be allowed to comment!!

Unsinkable Kristen said...

SK - "ricist" was probably the funniest thing I've read all day - LOL!!!

Carrien said...

I have 75+ pounds of rice in my pantry, but I always buy the 50 pound bag. I just know that this time I may not be able to get more for a while when this is gone. India and Thailand, where I buy rice from, have stopped exporting to keep local prices stable.

Since most of what we eat is fresh, perishable, and grown locally, CA, I don't imagine it will affect us much in the long run.

How 'bout we stop using bio diesel and pressure government to pressure car companies to start making more fuel efficient cars. The technology exists to make cars that run on fossil fuels that get 40 miles to the gallon. The patents are owned by car manufacturers, but they prefer planned obsolescence to efficiency.

Did you know it takes enough calories to make one litre of biofuel that 100 people could be fed for at least a month with what it takes to make one litre of fuel. IS it really worth it?