Emergency Food Funds

by Kelly · 2 comments

in Living Frugally

I’m trimming my grocery budget by €70 this month to make up for June’s anticipated €70 negative balance. Our normal grocery budget is €400 and usually we hover right around that mark. Sometimes we go over and (very) occasionally we will go under. It’s not as hard as it seems to trim nearly 20% from your grocery budget in one month, provided that you are willing to do some planning and you have a well-stocked pantry or, as I like to call it, an Emergency Food Fund.

You can think of food in the same way that you think of finances: have an emergency fund, then, if you have to use it, snowflake it until it’s fully stocked once again. My food box works on the same principal. I buy an extra can of this and an extra bag of dried that whenever I shop for groceries; I also stock up on good deals when I find them. This allows me to have a comfortable reserve of food in case of an emergency like a natural disaster or a budget crisis. Then I can build it up again little by little- without breaking the bank.

In what I generously call my pantry, I have two plastic bins that, along with my one wall cupboard and the cabinet under my (now defunct) microwave, hold a large stockpile of canned and dried goods, enough so that my family could comfortably eat in an emergency and they will comfortably eat now.

I use my existing resources most efficiently by going through my cupboards and making a list of all the meals that I can possibly prepare only using the food I already have in the house. I star the meals that use fresh ingredients so that I can make those first. I often end up with a list of twenty or so meals. Then I make a list of meals that I could make, but am missing an ingredient or two. The missing ingredients get written down on a shopping list, but I won’t buy those ingredients or make those meals until all the other meals have been made.

Here are ten examples of meals that I can make, just out of what I have on hand today:

  • Quiche: Fresh crust*, eggs*, cheese*, frozen spinach
  • Egg Drop Soup: Ramen, frozen julienned veggies, eggs*
  • Ramen with tofu, peanut sauce and frozen spinach
  • Lentils and Sausage with extra corn cornbread
  • CousCous with Veggies: frozen and canned
  • Spaghetti
  • Salade Nicoise: Boiled potatoes*, hard-boiled eggs*, green beans and tuna
  • Pasta Salad with corn and tomatoes* and hot dogs for the kids
  • Vegetable soup with fresh* and frozen vegetables, served with spanish omelette
  • Quesidillas with beans and rice and tomatoes* on the side

There are a very few items that I need to buy on a regular basis, regardless of the menu. These include yogurt for my kids, buns for my family’s breakfast, cheese (we are in France after all) and household supplies that we’d really rather not run out of (use your imagination). This is when my grocery cards come in handy: the cash back and rewards I have earned are stored on the cards; now is the perfect time to take advantage of these programs. As of today I have about €50 in available cash back at two different stores: that buys a lot of yogurt!

Emergency food funds are not just for the big emergencies. They can be perfect for times like these: months when you just need a little nudge to get everything back on track and to keep your budget from going overboard big time. After all, a safety net is there for a reason- why not use it?

What are your favorite ways to trim your grocery bill?


1 Anonymous June 5, 2008

what we do is only buy groceries when they come on sale, and when we have mad coupons for them. Our pantry is large enough and well stocked enough so that our menu doesnt suffer. You seam to be doing a simular thing of stockign up on the good deals.

2 Amy June 6, 2008

My next project, after the frugal wedding, will be a frugal pantry. I like how you can use the pantry to float if you need to trim your budget. I also really like the idea of making possible menus. . . that gives you concrete options when planning your meals.

Previous post:

Next post: