Stocking Up

We’ve discovered during the CV19 crisis that my wife and I have a different degree of devotion to emergency preparation than some other folks do. I thought we were pretty well set with our emergency prep planning from when our son was in Boy Scouts, but we’ve quickly learned we aren’t prepped nearly as well as we thought we were.

Related: Emergency Preparedness for CV19

Our biggest issue is grocery shopping. While we had stockpiled some groceries, we still have averaged going to the store 3x per week over the last 3 weeks. The TV know-it-all’s say that we should be stocking up to reduce virus exposure at the store by going once a week, or even on pace every two weeks. Yet, it seems like we are always running out of something, don’t have much room in the freezer, or the pantry is otherwise storing seldom-used fondue pots and Christmas cookie jars.

Our well-organized friends from Tennessee recently told us that they go shopping once every 4-6 weeks and probably have 3 months worth of food stored up at home. I can’t even imagine that. Their pantry is stocked up and they have a auxiliary freezer with extra stuff in it. They even sent us pictures to show us how much stuff they have stockpiled. (I noted they were a little short in whiskey in the photo they sent of their bar, but otherwise they could make it until 2021)

While it is not something we have ever invested in, I’ve read that about 30% of American households have an extra freezer or refrigerator plugged in down in the basement or garage for overflow storage. People stock up on meat and frozen foods that are on sale, so they save money and never run out of anything they want in a pinch. That might be a good approach right now.

The biggest drawback to having an extra freezer or refrigerator is that the units are often older models that have been banished from the kitchen after a remodeling if they are more than 10 years old, they aren’t the most energy efficient. An average sized, pre-Energy Star freezer might run $200-$250 to power annually. You have to save a lot on food to offset that ongoing cost.

Since there are only two of us in our household, I think we should be able to get by just fine with the space in our kitchen side+by-side and plan out our shopping better. We’ll just wear our masks to get our groceries and let the store do what they do best … ‘store’ groceries for us.

Do you have an auxiliary freezer/refrigerator? How has it worked out for you financially and otherwise?

Image Credit: Wirecutter.com

15 thoughts on “Stocking Up

  1. We have a small chest freezer in addition to our standard side-by-side. I typically use it to store garden produce and large batch cooking. We eat locally and seasonally, so if I want to use zucchini or diced green chili in the winter, I have to process and freeze it when it is in season. This does save money, because you are buying items when they are in surplus and at their cheapest (and best tasting). We are also vegetarian (pescatarian really), so no meat except fish caught sustainably. I find I need to go to the store once every two weeks, but I go to the farmer’s market weekly when it is running. I also use it to store things like homemade vegetable stock for cooking and heat and eat leftover meals when we don’t feel like cooking from scratch. Our freezer saves us time from shopping and from cooking.

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    1. Wow – that sounds like you use it very smartly to support your lifestyle & gardening hobby. Very sustainable!

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  2. We shop once about every 4-6 weeks. We have a commercial sized side by side (so each side is the size of a large commercial refrigerator). The large vertical freezer side handles all the frozen storage we need for several months supply. We also maintain at least three months of other canned/dry foods. We have a pantry in our basement with +3 months of non-frozen food, and replenish our upstairs kitchen pantry from that lower storage pantry once a week. My wife calls it “going shopping” in the basement! The basement storage pantry is complete with a very cool +150 can vertical food storage slide system, that maintains FIFO for the canned foods! (No we aren’t preppers, but I do like being prepared for emergencies!) My parents were not wealthy, and they grew up during the depression era. So we either grew and/or killed much of our food when we were growing up, and stored much of it for winter. As I said, they weren’t rich, but we always had 6-12 months of food in the basement. I can never remember worrying about food. I guess I learned to keep extra food, based on being raised that way. So for Covid-19, I just made one quick replenishment run a few weeks ago, and today we still have +3 months in the basement today…just normal protocol!

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    1. That sounds like a ‘pro-grade’ set up for sure. My mom did a lot of canning when I was a kid, so we had a big basement pantry in our basement. That gene got lost with me, but I think one of my 3 brothers has a set-up like that.

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      1. Yes, we actually came back about a week and a half early. Things were getting a little crazy down there with the limited grocery stores, restaurants were closing, and we were worried there could be a lockdown, so we packed it up and headed back home to Virginia. It’s amazing how fast things changed while we were there! We had a great time though. It may be a while before we get to travel like that again, but we’re enjoying the down time at home too. We had (fortunately) already cancelled our planned summer trip to Yellowstone because our youngest daughter and her husband are expecting their first baby in June. So we have a lot to look forward to! We are going to be first time grandparent very soon! 😀

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  3. Though I use a fairly new chest freezer to be able to buy in bulk for a family of three, I also view it as the only option for longer term frozen storage. It’s hard to notice if you’re going through everything within a couple of weeks, but once you’ve stored food in a regular freezer a couple of months it’s gone through some of the defrost cycles that prevent ice from building up inside the freezer, which adds freezer burn and can eventually make things pretty inedible. Chest freezers don’t do that with properly packaged meats.

    For cheap meats where buying in bulk goes from $2.99/lb to $1.99/lb or similar, the value is a bit questionable. Sure, might as well do that, but it’s barely paying for itself even if you don’t value the labor and packaging involved. Add in some other minor savings buying some frozen veggies on sale or freezing your own when they are in-season.

    Expensive meats though, that’s where the savings of a chest freezer really come in. A full beef tenderloin hand trimmed and frozen saves $40-80 vs buying individual filets. Truly High end beef like Japanese A5 can save $100/lb buying whole cuts.

    Delicate seafood can go badly quickly with defrost cycles and reducing waste is the biggest saving of all. Plus, homemade ice creams come out really well with a sub-zero freezing container.

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    1. Wow – we’re not ‘steak people’ but a lot of people are and those savings on the prime cuts are sizable. Add the seafood in and you are well-stocked and really saving $$$. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. We’ve had a basement freezer for decades! While not the most modern power-efficient design, it still works great. Due to our age, Coronavirus presents greater risk for us, so we now limit store shopping to once a month. We stock up, freeze lots (from loaves of bread to casserole dishes), and enjoy from our own larder. By eliminating serendipity trips, we’ve saved lots by not making impulse buys. We’ve also not purchased restaurant food in 7 weeks. Our food expenditures are way down and we’re eating quite well.

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    1. We’ve been bringing home food only on #TakeoutTuesday. That’s a big drop in restaurant $$$ from our household too.

      I just read an article in the WashPost with the CEO of Tyson Foods saying they nations food supply is broken’ because of CV19 infections in meat plants. I stocked up our kitchen freezer with some small hams, ground beef, and chicken breasts.

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      1. It’s amazing! I read the same article. They are talking about scrapping enormous amounts of meat and significant shortages soon, yet we are already limited in our local grocery stores to two purchases (ex. 2-steaks, 2-1lb. Pkgs of hamburgers, 2- pkgs of pork, etc.) WTH?!!! Why are we tossing food, when there is demand?!! (I know, I get the logistical issues…) We have seriously screwed up this economy…and I am not convinced it was necessary. We must get our businesses back in operation.

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      2. Yeah – I went to the store (again) today and got what I needed for a backyard Mother’s Day “shrimp boil’. Didn’t want to wait to see if seafood & sausage were goin* to run out. Pork & beef we’re almost out of stock already.

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