Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sustainability and Self-Reliance

“The world is busy with its own cares, sorrows and joys, and pays little heed to
you. There is but one great pass-word to success,—self-reliance.”
William George Jordan
(1864 - 1928)

I am an admitted LDS blog stalker. LDS or Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) have been teaching their members about self reliance for over 100 years. I became interested in becoming self reliant once I began expanding the family. Living on the outskirts of town, we tend to be the first ones without power during an ice storm, or wind storm, or breeze for that matter. We have been without power for up to four days. This may not seem like a significant amount of time to you, but consider our circumstances; there are eight or ten people and two dogs that would need shelter from the freezing temperatures; finding food for ten people is not an easy task when the grocery stores are empty due the rush on food prior to the storm, and, although I have some good friends, I doubt they like me well enough to have all of us weather the storm in their house. So, for this reason, I felt that the responsible thing to do for this family was to plan for the worst. Today I am opening up my doors to you in order to share what our food storage looks like and why we couldn't live without it..

The name for such a plan is called stockpiling, and we have become very good at it. Until now I have been hesitant to share about my stockpile publicly. For those who are not familiar with the practice it may look more like hoarding. Trust me though, it is nothing like that. I regularly weed out things that our family is not likely to use and give it away to those who can use it. 

I save quite a bit on groceries by shopping and storing food that I purchase at it's rock bottom price and then stack that with a coupon or two. I try to achieve a 50%+ savings off my bill at each grocery shopping trip. Here is an example of how I might do that. Let's say Kellogg's cereal is on sale at Shaw's for $2.00 a box, I have 6 coupons for $1.50 off two boxes, and there is a store Catalina of $5.00 back when you buy ten boxes. On a deal like this I will buy 12 boxes. This makes the price of the cereal, originally priced at $3.29, only .96 a box. At this price it only makes sense to buy several and store them. Cereal goes fast around here so I look for deals like this often.

Other things we stock up on are pasta, peanut butter, soups, beans, vegetables, fruits, spaghetti sauce, oil, condiments, coffee creamer, coffee, juice, gravy, jams and jellies, some convenience foods, salad dressing, syrup, spices, powdered milk, toiletries, bathroom supplies, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products, water, baking supplies, rice. These are things we use on a regular basis. The key to making this a money saver is to keep an inventory of what you have on hand, and rotate your stock. After a while you will only shop for fresh milk, produce and bread as well as the things you are getting low on, and then only when they are on sale and you have coupons for them. Our budget for 8 was usually around $250 a week or more. Now it is $100 a week and that includes dog food, cleaning products, and over the counter drug store products. I try to only shop twice a month unless there is a really good deal. Then I will only shop for that item in bulk and not stray from the list.

There are other good reasons to stockpile in your home. One of the easiest to relate to is the ability to have all of the ingredients you need for a meal right in your pantry. I used to live in town and a five minute jaunt to the grocery store was no big deal. Now that we live on the outskirts, that is not such an easy thing to do. I've also learned that those last minute dashes to the grocery store, especially on my way home from work, are extremely expensive. I go in and shop aimlessly and, at that time of day, EVERYTHING looks good. I have no impulse filter when I shop like that. 

Another reason that having extra food and other necessities on hand includes a sudden unexpected loss of income or a medical emergency that prohibits you from getting to the store. Two years ago I experienced both at the same time. I was so grateful to have my stockpile to turn to and it sustained us for weeks. 

If you would like the peace of mind that owning a stockpile can give you, and are thinking that you should get serious about stockpiling things for an emergency, here are some guidelines you should consider.

  1. Make sure you have the room to dedicate to your stockpile. You may have more room than you think. Ours is in the kitchen, hall closet, bathrooms, and down cellar. You may find space under beds, in closets, or in the garage. You want to take care of your storage space, making certain that it is vermin and bug free, things won't freeze etc. Don't start stockpiling until you have a dedicated space for it or your family will be tripping over your great deals.
  2. Start off slowly. This isn't something most people can afford to do in a hurry. Make a list of things you know you use, and run out of, frequently. Start looking for sales and coupons for those items. Dedicate 10% of your grocery budget to add to your stockpile. This will get you started and you should be able to have a healthy stockpile within 6 months. 
  3. Have control over your stockpile. If your kids or husband are anything like mine they could go through a stockpile of cereal in a week. Either find a storage spot that the most tempting things can be hidden away in or keep them on the top shelves of your pantry so that they are out of view and less accessible. 
  4. Keep track of expiration dates. Many things can last a long time on the shelf, but others, like flour, and baking mixes can go bad and actually make you sick. Don't take chances with those things.
  5. Rotate your stock. Watch how the stock boys do it at your grocery store. They are continually emptying the shelf, putting the newer dates in back and returning the older dates to the front. If you find you have several things that are close to expiring, and you know you can't use them soon enough, box them up and take them to your local food pantry.
  6. Keep an inventory of your items. When you are running low on an item make a mental note that you can start looking to replace it soon with a sale item. Once you get really good at couponing you will find that you won't pay more than $1 for a bottle of detergent, canned vegetables will cost less than 50 cents, toothpaste and toothbrushes will be free. Learning to shop well with coupons will help get the stockpile growing and is essential to making sure you have what you need, when you need it
Here are a few of my favorite food storage blogs

I hope that by revealing  sharing this information with you, it will inspire you to think about how your family would fare in the event of a natural or personal disaster. Being prepared is not just a motto. It is the first step towards living your life with planful intention. Having enough available; enough money on hand, enough emergency supplies, enough food is like having money in the bank. It may not be the way you live now, but consider the benefits if crisis were to hit your family.


  1. Thanky Thanky! Trying to wrap my head around this...Derrick and I are very excited to start learning and using these tips! We shop horribly and could save LOTS! One of us goes to the store daily for "dinner" and ends up spending 30 + !!! NAUGHTY! Keep the tips coming! :)

  2. I would be happy to work with you on this. It is a little time consuming at first, but it really pays off.

  3. I love reading these. Last time I went shopping it wasn't pretty and I spent WAY more than I wanted and ran outta food in two weeks! I def. plan on using your tips when we go shopping in a week or so. Keep them coming! Your the best!! <3

  4. I will start buying the sunday paper. Thats a start. I also will need to hook up a printer..Ive got one but now have a mac..not sure if I can buy an adaptor to use w/ the mac? I will look into it because I know I can print out a lot coupons from websites. I will then need an organizer to put all the coupons in. Then Im ready to go. Thats the tricky part!

  5. I think it is great that you are stocking up like this. I really need to get better about coupons. I have a family of 7, so we go through things fast and it is nice to have stuff in the house on hand at all times.

    Thanks so much for joining my blog bounce at

    I am following you now :)

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone. Cass, try to be resourceful about getting the Sunday inserts for free. Talk to people and see if they throw their's away. Yes, you definitely will need a printer and i will blog a lot more about how to get great coups online. You have also inspired me to blog about the organizational part. I'll get right on that.

    Mandee, I have been following you for a while now. Since you changed to Raising 5 sons. Your blog is adorable and I am happy to share it on my blog. I hope you get lots of responses to your bounce. It's a really cool idea.

  7. Heidi - I just came across your blog and I love it! Love the pics and the sharing! I have a smaller family, but although we are a different religion I completely believe in the LDS theory of being prepared no matter what!!! Tonight will be a post on my blog sharing this wonderful post! I love to share when I find something truly inspiring!

  8. Jackie, thanks for your sweet comments. I am thrilled to share preparedness ideas, especially with those that have never considered them. I hope your readers like the post. I have also started a new blog at I'll be right over to check out your blog