How To Acquire Food Storage Even If You Are Poor…


There are lots of people who are, or consider themselves to be financially ‘poor’. More specifically, they don’t think they have enough money to build up a cupboard or two full of extra food for preparedness. Some have difficulty getting enough food at all…

There are many people who live week-to-week, paycheck-to-paycheck while struggling to make ends meet. There are bills to pay. There’s little money left over for other things (such as buying some extra food for preparedness). There might only be enough food in the house to feed the family for a few days or maybe a week – until the next paycheck comes in.

Well here’s the thing: There likely IS a way to put some extra food in the pantry…

Firstly, those who consider themselves “poor” or under too tight a budget to procure extra food – consider the following…

Many people have more money then they may think they have. Their problem is wants versus needs. Wasted money on things. Take a close hard look at yourself and what you spend your money on. There is often a way to adjust one’s spending habits.

Take a look at what is being purchased every week, and make adjustments. Not everyone might like it (a shift in diet), but there are likely some foods that could be replaced with alternatives to free up a few dollars for purchasing extra food.

There are lots of foods that you can buy that are really relatively cheap compared to foods that the family might be currently eating. Think in terms of value. Some foods are so comparatively cheap that there’s little excuse not to be able to stock up a cupboard or two!

I’m going to throw out a few ideas, and I welcome your input as well.

Find A Less Expensive Grocery Store

Some grocery stores have higher prices than others! Go to the cheaper store (if the driving logistics – cost of gas – makes it worth the trip). Clearly, some grocery stores cater to being more “upscale”. And you pay for that!

Buy Store Brands To Save Money

Brand names cost more! Period. “Store brands” cost less. Period.

Buy Only If It’s On Sale, If Possible

Grocery stores always and regularly offer sales promotions to get you in their store. “IF” some of these food sales are part of your regular diet, then buy on sale! They count on you to buy other things while you’re there. Resist spending beyond your intent! Most grocery stores have some sort of clearance rack or shelves. You might find some great deals there.

Use Coupons

This can save quite a lot of money. But don’t buy things you don’t need!

Don’t Crater To Your Kids Eating Demands

Don’t buy everything that the kids want! Kids want SUGAR foods! And don’t tell me that your kids will ‘only’ eat this or that (their preferences). Because unless there are allergic reactions involved, the kids won’t starve if they don’t get their particular demands. When they’re hungry enough (after putting up a stink about not getting what they want), they’ll eat! Right?

Compare Unit Prices

It is amazing how many people do not compare unit prices (or don’t know how) when choosing a particular food! In most every grocery store the unit price is printed right on the price tag at the shelf (price per ounce, per pound, etc..). Often you don’t even have to do the math to figure out the posted price versus the number of ounces your getting. The unit price should already be normalized so just go with the cheaper unit. Though the units are sometimes different (math involved here) ;)

Regularly Buy Some So Called “Cheap Food”

Buy some so called ‘cheap’ food every week for preparedness. Even if it’s not part of your normal consumption. Maybe things like Mac-n-cheese. Pasta. Rice. Dry beans. Look for sales like 10 for 10 (e.g. 10 jars of pasta sauce for 10 dollars) or any such sale of cheap foods. These items will eventually fill your cupboards and there will be food available for emergencies or whatever else.

Cut The Expensive Bad Habits & Vices

Do you smoke? That’s expensive! It’s hard to quit, for sure. But you will save a boatload of money, and will live longer as a result. Similar for alcohol. Maybe you quit buying top or mid-shelf. Or stop altogether… These are very expensive habits for being “poor”.

Stop The Luxury Spending

Do you go out to eat? Stop. Does your cable package include all the goodies? Cut back. This is budget discipline. No one wants to cut out their luxury spending, but to put some extra food in the pantry… ?

Grow A Garden

If you have a patch of yard or dirt, try growing a garden. Even if small. Tomatoes are ridiculously easy to grow. How about some bell peppers? Think of the money saved when harvested. Plus it will taste WAY BETTER than the grocery store.

Your turn… Put yourself in the shoes of someone who may be poor. Any ideas of particular techniques to acquire extra preparedness foods?


  1. one very important thing you let out of this article SPACE if you are living in a apartment SPACE IS EVERYTHING i i started dehydrating EVERYTHING POSSIBLE i have even gone so far as drying home made chili other than that you where spot on

  2. Buying on sale is key to cheaper food. Once you get just a little food ahead, then you can stock up on cheaper food. Stores usually sell a few items at less than cost, but then sell the items you buy to go with them at a very high price.

    So, they sell chicken one week and cranberries the next week, hamburger one week and buns the next. Once you get just a little ahead, you will find you are buying almost everything on sale. But watch out. Sometimes inferior products are on sale. A couple of weeks ago they had green peppers at less than half price. They spoiled almost immediately.

    Don’t buy a lot of unfamiliar foods. Try one on sale, then if you like it, buy more the next time it is on sale.

    1. Alot of the Mormon and LDS churches believe that their members keep a year supply of food on hand. They have regular “canning” sessions where you can come in and learn the art and swap out extra stuff you have for things you need. I’ve spent alot of time working with them in Idaho and although mine and their beliefs don’t line all up, I’ve never seen any that are not the most decent and friendliest folks to be around.

  3. Buy in bulk things you use a lot of….

    Here is an example
    Allspice, I use a bit for caning.

    Bulk 1 pound mylar bag = Organic Allspice Whole Starwest $ 11 24 ($2.81 / Ounce)  

    McCormick Whole Allspice, 0.75 oz, $11 12 ($14.83 / Ounce)

    Both priced from Amazon.

    Do the research….

    Also STOP eating out…. home cooked meals are a fraction of the cost, AND a lot better

    1. I second that regarding BULK spices! Wow what a markup when you buy it in the typical store-size containers compared to “if” you can find it in bulk.

      One thing I be sure to always keep stocked in my seasoning “bulk” is my “Montreal Steak Seasoning”! Love that stuff ;)

      But yes, bulk is always less expensive – and often a LOT LESS EXPENSIVE that way…

        1. Touchofgrey: LOL! I also immediately thought of Penzey’s. They hate conservatives and come right out and say so.

      1. Sorry Ken, I gata disagree with ya on that one….

        Try this one from the bottom of the Country, El Paso TX…….
        “Great American Land & Cattle Steak N’ Meat Seasoning 32oz Container”
        Good stuff for sure, and GREAT when smoking that hunk of meat in the old Smoker with some Hickory Wood.

        1. T in TX:
          Very much so, will admit just a tad salty, but a great flavor.
          Going to order some of Ken’s foreign stuff just to give it a shot though.
          Never to old to learn new tricks.

      2. Better yet, make your own spices. Buy the bulk spices at the lower price, then go on the internet and find copycat recipes. Usually your favorite spice mixes are some combination of what you have in the cupboard.

        1. Lauren:
          That works even better.
          See my post on buying Bulk Spices, Wayyyyyyy cheaper

      3. Ken, Montreal Steak Seasoning copycat:

        • 2 tablespoons crushed black pepper
        • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
        • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
        • 1 tablespoon paprika
        • 1 tablespoon onion powder
        • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
        • 1 tablespoon dill seed
        • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

        Another recipe, while very similar, also had mustard. In a case like this, I tend to use “parts,” so I could replace a tablespoon with 1/4 cup or even a cup for a larger amount. Probably better to use the smaller amount the first time so you can do a side by side test and tweak it if necessary.

        1. Lauren:
          Fantastic, thank you.
          Have all the “parts”
          Will be mixing up some tomorrow.
          THANK YOU

  4. Great points, Ken, as you’ve made before on this same topic.

    As for your idea to “grow a garden”: It is usually not cheaper at the beginning, if you need to buy good soil and such. After the first year, especially if you’re making compost to enrich your “old” soil, it’s cheaper. It’s also more rewarding, and, as you say, it definitely tastes better. I agree that tomatoes and peppers are truly easy to grow and make it worth the cost.

    1. Similarly, the up-front costs for home canning / food preservation are there. However it doesn’t take too long before it pays for itself…

      1. I have heard of community kitchens where you can use their equipment.

      2. Reading craigslist this morning I saw a case of wide mouth quart jars for $30.

    2. And no need to buy the expensive additives. Bury your food scraps in the ground where you’re going to plant next year’s garden. If you’re weeding, use the weeds as mulch around your food plants.

  5. Plan a specific and simple menu first or you’ll have a pantry full of food and no idea what to do with it for a meal so it’s a waste of money and space. Weekly food shopping usually starts with “Hey, what’s on sale this week and what are we in the mood to eat.” Our long term food storage, however, is based on a few favorite meals and ingredients that are inexpensive, durable, and flexible. Since our long term pantry is based on things we often consume, it’s easy to use the older ingredients and replace with fresh.

  6. We do raise a garden and can and freeze all the extra. DW is an incredible bargen hunter. She finds where the sales are and maps out our shopping trip. We rarely buy anything that’s not on sale but what is on sale we buy a case or more. We have been working on this for years. So if you are new to prepping don’t be discouraged if you can’t do this right away.

    Here are some of the things we do to keep the budget tight.

    We check the meat dept. for things that are almost out of date. They are usually half price. If you use or freeze them as soon as you get home they are still good.

    We buy tuna in oil instead of water. Don’t drain the oil, shread stale bread in it until it soaks up all of the liquid them add your other ingredients.

    We rarely buy pre-made stuff. We cook from scratch.

    I never buy my lunch. I bring a sandwitch or leftovers from last nights supper.

    When we make soup or chili we make a big pot. Then we can the leftovers or a quick meal or lunch at work.

  7. And to second Ken’s comment about buying “Cheaper” foods don’t just buy them and set aside for an “Emergency”. Start learning how to cook and enjoy them NOW.

    Learning to make tasty dishes from cheaper foods like dried beans or training your taste buds to “Cheaper Foods” is something to do before disaster strikes. Better to learn you NEED XYZ spices for your tastes.

    Adding beans as half the protein you normally use for a dish like white navy beans with a chicken dish saves you even more money. The milder proteins like fish and chicken cannellini or white northern beans work well. For beef and pork you could use the northern but kidney beans work well also.

    Bonus advantages is less money spend feeding yourself and likely a healthier diet.

  8. The LDS Church has a cannery and they will sell items to the general public. Call first they also have a food store that is only for church members. Be polite when talking to them and they will help you. They sell quite a selection of food in number 10 cans with a 30 year shelf life. Most cans are between $3 and $10 each, it’s good quality food and well worth looking into.

  9. May not really be the place but..
    Last winter on my way to an appointment I found a fresh roadkill : )
    It was still warm on a snowy freezing day.
    Picked up a young buck on my way home, first time ever gutting. 4pts

    deer’s rear left side was damaged.
    A LOT of free meat there, took over three hours to separate and all the hassle involved
    and I had help.

    I ended up with a huge amount of bits and pieces for my dogs.

    Not for the squeamish, but very little in life is actually free.

    I just cooked the tenderloins up a few days ago.

    1. Horse
      If I hit it or see it hit I will eat road kill. You loose some of the meat from the impact but the rest is still good. You are right there is alot of work in dressing out a deer but well worth it.

    2. I think it is much better to make use of the meat than to let it rot. When I hit a deer many years ago, I did the same thing. When my husband returned from two week guard drill, I had meat packaged in the freezer. I did have help, including the officer who I asked to please throw it in the back of my Volvo. He was happy to oblige.

  10. Shop with a list and buy only what is on it. Stores love it when y’all make impulse buys.

    1. That depends on if you pay the extra $ fot the overpriced “special” water or not.
      Some of that over priced sparkling waste is far more that the same amount of sodaIt really suprises me what people will pay for the illusion of health.

  11. Where I live, it’s not uncommon to see apple, plum, pear, and crabapple trees going unpicked. Even when I pick mine, I don’t get them all and am happy to let someone come and clean up. Lots of folks would be happy to let you harvest, for free, or for a portion of the harvest. Always ask first.

    When cooking, save the useful peelings to make things like veggie stock, or flavored vinegars. Save the broccoli stems to peel and cut up for broccoli/cheddar soup. You can plant the base of some vegetables, inside, to regrow cuttings- cabbage, head lettuce and onions come to mind. If there aren’t enough leftovers to make a meal for someone, save those in a freezer container you can add to and make some sort of hodge podge casserole. Don’t throw good food away!

    When you can, buy direct from the grower, and ask if they have any ‘seconds’. These will be less than perfect in size or appearance, but are just fine. They’re usually significantly discounted. If you can afford it, ask if you can buy a case of something from the grower – much cheaper per pound, if you can front the money.

    Learn to identify edible ‘weeds’. Depending on the region of the country, you can get your fill of greens just by foraging. Here we have all kinds of things, probably more nutrient dense than regular garden vegetables – lambsquarters, miner’s lettuce, chickweed, purslane, ramps, watercress, etc… Most people won’t mind you picking their ‘weeds’. Always ask first.

  12. SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY. Eat from a more simple menu. You can watch all flyers for specials and then end up spending money on many things you can do without. When things are tight eat oatmeal every morning and potatoes for lunch and dinner. Many many different ways to prepare potatoes. Amazing how much money an be saved if you do this for 1 month. Been there done that!!!

    1. When potatoes are $3 for 20 pounds, it beats hamburger helper all hollow! Just make sure you don’t buy more than you can use/process before they go bad. Another “poor” mistake is buying food you can’t or won’t use, which then gets wasted. If you get three heads of lettuce because they’re 3 for $1, and can only eat one before they go bad, that’s 66 cents wasted.

  13. If you eat out 3 times a week, drop it to 1–and use the “extra” money on food for those meals +. With the leftover money, buy basics for cooking at home.

    If you use door-dash, STOP. A trip to pick up your food will save you easily half the cost. Convenience is not a substitute for money when you’re hungry.

    Stop buying boxed meals. Instead of $1 per ounce (assuming 5 ounces and $5 per box), you can buy a bag of rice at 1$ per pound, and a pound of hamburger for the price of one box. Split the hamburger up into two pieces–you now have two meals instead of one, and enough rice left over for two more. Next week, skip another boxed meal and buy some kind of seasoning and another bag of rice (or pasta, or beans) + fresh onions. Week three, skip two boxed meals. Buy two bags of rice/pasta/beans and two pounds of meat for the same price. Put half the meat away in the freezer.

    For the garden, don’t worry about all the toys at first. Pull seeds from your grocery store produce, stick them in a pot on your porch and use the water wasted when you’re heating up the water in the sink to water them. If you get one tomato or one pepper, that’s one you don’t have to buy and it cost you nothing.

    One movie on Amazon will be $15 plus. Skip it and make a trip to the library. Same for books. Better yet, go as a family and have a picnic on the lawn rather than spending $90 on takeout.

    Go on cheap dates. Go to the park, go hiking, go out on halloween in costume with a box of garden produce and give out produce when they answer the door. (For some reason no one wanted the candy I gave out the one time I did that–but it was fun)

    If your kids absolutely MUST have the highest end clothes, send them to the thrift store. Better yet (tongue in cheek) tear holes in the butt of their current jeans and tell them they can now be stylish without the pricetag.

  14. Don’t forget to save the carcass/bones from chickens and roasts, etc. to make stock – rich, nutritious, and can be used to make filling tasty sauces for the more ‘plain’ beans, rice, and breads. Bread and gravy, with leftover bits in it can be a pretty satisfying and cheap meal.

  15. In a word the Dollar store. They carry all sorts of food and related supplies and each item only a buck. If you set aside a certain amount each week, and use it at the dollar store (in my case the “Dollar Tree”), you can stock up pretty quickly. Not only food but spices, etc.

    1. Gotta agree on the Dollar Tree. If I only had $20 bucks left, and knew I had to eat and drink for 2 weeks. That’s where I would go.

  16. I’m not anywhere rich. Just make below a median wage. But I am wealthy in other aspects.
    My first year of being divorced, I planted a huge garden. Froze, canned foods. I hunted dang near everyday of the seasons. Shopped at the dollar stores, the off brand grocers. From a two income to a one income, plus child support.
    A person makes due with what little they have.
    Never ate out and made a heck of a supper, with lunch leftovers. And in those times, I dropped a $100 + power bill, down to $30 a month.

    Don’t have land to hunt, garden?

    Try indoor gardening. Buy a tag for a trusted hunter to fill it for you.

    Never say,
    I can’t do it.

    Make wise choices

  17. I’m not rich by a long shot. Do I live paycheck to paycheck? Pretty much. That being said, I have found that going to the local food pantry helps tremendously in getting food preps.

    1. I’m not rich either but live comfortably. Part of the reason is right here in this post. Food is one of the largest expenses people have. Learning to cut back and make due is one of the reasons I am comfortable.

  18. I’ve never cooked by a recipe except maybe bread or cake. Everything else is just like you said. What do you have and what sounds like it will mix

  19. I feel a bit out of place as a person that is still working at a high wage job for now. I am able to eat out but I cooked for myself when I was in college working a seasonal job.

    From those lean and hungry days, the tricks I learned to obtain a balanced diet and to procure protein for myself and several young undergraduate families:

    I never or rarely ate out as it was an expensive luxury. If and when I did eat out, it was a coffee shop type diner that was typically open 24/7 that had good meatloaf and an attractive waitress.

    Hunting provided some meat for the freezer. Shooting in Turkey shoots in the fall and Ham shoots each spring put more food on the table for more people than all of my hunting trips combined. I have a 22 rimfire target pistol and I would enter at least 10 turkey shoots within a given geographical area and generally would win 7-8 turkeys. My truck had a shell on the bed and I travelled with 3 borrowed ice chests. The hams and turkeys are “B” grade but they make a fine batch of soup or stew. This fed about 4-5 families with children in my apartment complex.

    I helped other people fill their tag by fixing their rifles or mounting scopes and sighting in their rifles for them. I charged a nominal fee for my services and left them a receipt for items and materials purchased for the fix. ( usually new scope mounts and rings.). many times, a grateful hunter will not only pay you for the work but will share some of the harvested bounty after they succeed in the field. ( I am partial to fresh venison liver that has never been frozen.).

    My garden i grow mostly fresh stuff to supplement the dry grains in storage like rice, freeze-dried potato flakes and pasta. The garden is to supplement my freezer and dry storage.

    Last piece of advice for the young person preparing to leave home: learn to cook, prepare and preserve food for yourself. You will make many friends that way and it can lead to high paying jobs in larger cities and some towns

    1. Katja just thinking of meat as a flavoring agent instead of the main course helps. Dry White beans are easy to store for a few years just keep dry and cool and cooked up add much protein and satisfaction bulk to meals like chicken and pork dishes. You use the same seasonings and it’s quite delicious.

      Same with adding a bit of cooked white rice again a modern casserole effect or a thick soup-stew.

      Develop an more international cuisine and sweet beans and rice becomes a healthy breakfast. Or savory beans and rice breakfast :-).

      Only in America and England did I ever “See” Breakfast food. Otherwise it was leftovers remade into a morning meal.

      1. Eating the remaining part of the prior evening’s meal for breakfast or lunch is historically more accurate than a separate type of food. It’s a great way to eliminate food waste as well. Sometimes the extra was planned for this use. I never developed a taste for cold cereal or pasteurized milk so “do overs” for me. Heartier breakfast meals become part of the evening meal rotation- eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, etc.

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