I can't imagine living on just "long-term" storage items like grains and beans without something to add flavor, interest, and nutrition. So, I use our local supermarkets' case lot sales to stock up on tomato sauce, a few kinds of veggies I don't can from my garden, creamed soups, canned beans (for the days you are in a hurry), and pineapple for ethnic dishes we make. Depending on the store, case lot sales are often also your chance to get a good buy on dried milk, sugar, salt, baking soda, etc. -- some of the things you use every day in your kitchen.
If your area doesn't have case lot sales, you can stock up the same way by buying a case when an item is at a good sale price. The clerk might look strangely at you when you ask him/her to get you a case of an item, but they'll go back and get one. You leave the store with a feeling of accomplishment and real satisfaction.
For items that never come on sale, like the coconut milk our family regularly uses in Thai cooking, I find a store with a good price and pick up a half dozen or so cans every time I go in the store. Sure, we could live without Thai curry and we could live without pineapple on our homemade pizza, but why should we when we don't have to?
Why buy canned goods in bulk?
First, price. Consider how much you will save over a year if you purchase most of your canned goods at a dime or so cheaper each can. With a box of 20 cans, you've already saved $2, just on one item you use regularly.
Second, you've made life easier for you, the cook. It's so comforting to know those cans are there and ready when you need them -- no running to the store for a can of tomato sauce you discovered you needed right in the middle of cooking the meal.
Third, find peace by being prepared and self-reliant. With the economic downturn, I don't need to say too much about the value of having a supply of food ahead of time. I will just say that I personally have friends right in this town who have had to live off their food storage when husbands lost what seemed very secure jobs. Those people put that food on their shelves in the good times, never knowing they're really need it soon. Our family has lived off food storage when car repairs went into hundreds of dollars more than planned. Sometimes the financial crunch is short-term and sometimes long-term, but all of us go through at least a short-term financial crunch at some point
Peace of mind just might come in a can... and in the freezer... and in buckets in our basement.
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