I found an interesting answer to this question. A couple, faced with a $1600 credit card bill for the holidays, and no money to pay for it, decided to take the drastic step of no grocery shopping of the month of January. Other than milk, they subsisted on just the food they had in their kitchen. They made it 7 weeks.
Let’s skip the obvious here…they never read the Fritter and had they done so, would have never spent $1600 on the holidays, let alone put it on a credit card, and look at what they did, and what they learned. 7 weeks worth of food for two people. All sitting there at once. Granted, the meals weren’t the healthiest towards the end, but they were able to eat every day for nearly two months. That’s a shitload of food to be keeping around the house. These are not preppers nor wing nuts who believe society is about to come crashing down so hoard all you can for the coming famine/war/pestilence disaster of the week. These are ordinary people who found out the hard way that nature abhors a vacuum. Said vacuum being a kitchen full of empty storage shelves and probably a fridge large enough to hold, well, 7 weeks worth of food for 2. At the end, when they could finally go back to grocery shopping, they did so with a new found view of excess and how it can hurt your lifestyle.
I’ve seen this behavior first hand. Many of my family, parents, aunts and uncles, all who grew up with large families during depression and world war are or were food hoarders. Never enough to eat, rationing, and fighting with siblings over the last scraps. They seem to overcompensate by buying huge amounts of food and keeping the larders full at all times. When I go back to visit, if I want something out of the fridge, I usually have to move three or four items to get to it.
Personally, I’ve never been much of hoarder when it came to food. And not because of economics either. No matter how poor or destitute, I made point of never going hungry, and I got the waistline to prove it. But when I owned a house, with a fairly modest kitchen, I rarely kept much more than a weeks worth of food in the house at any one time. One trip a week to grocery store was plenty. Maybe a secondary trip for milk or such, but I wouldn’t load up on shit just because it happened to be on sale. One thing I found out, especially with Publix, was their sales ran in patterns. If you missed something on sale one month, chances were pretty good that it would be on sale again next month.
Now that I live on the boat, I keep even less food on board, for several reasons. One, storage space, or lack thereof. I have little or no shelving, a small cube fridge and not much else. B, climate. Keeping food fresh in a high humidity environment like a boat on the ocean in the Keys is impossible. Bread in particular won’t last long. I keep as much in the fridge as I can but anything that isn’t canned or sealed will spoil quickly. And 3, I can’t carry that much in groceries. I only have a back pack and a bike so I am limited as to what I can tote. I grab a carry basket when I go to the store which has about the same capacity as my back pack. So when I shop, I keep in mind if what I want will fit in the pack. When the basket is full, I am done shopping. In many ways this is good. I buy essentials, rarely splurge on unnecessary stuff, and keep the food budget in line. Most of the time I will have enough food for 2 to 3 days. It means extra trips to the store every week, but since I am riding a bike, it costs nothing and gets me away from the computer and into that fresh air thingy outside that I keep reading about. If I were to plan on doing a trip on the boat, sail up the coast or to the back country someday, then I would lay in a supply of goods to last me for said trip. Otherwise I have no need to load up with an extended supply of food.
What about you? How much food do you keep around? 7 weeks worth or more? Why? Expecting trouble? Zombie apocalypse, war, return of an ex girlfriend? I can understand some aspects of loading up on food. Filling a freezer full of fish and lobster that you scored on a fishing trip. Getting a sweet deal on a side of beef, or for those who still hunt, bagging a deer. Thats a lot of meals to tide you over during the cold winter months. And don’t forget the lost art of canning. My grandmothers had old root cellars and every fall they would put up fruits, vegetables, and preserves to eat during the long dark days when the sun heads south on vacation. Putting in a garden and reaping the benefits of said labors is perfectly sane. Loading up on enough ramen noodles, pancake mix, and jello to last two months, not so much.
Go read that article again, and then do an inventory of what you have stored in the deep dark recesses of that maze of shelves, cubby holes, and hide aways that you call a kitchen. Not only will you probably find a lot of food, you may also find the reason why you don’t have enough money to pay off the holiday credit card.
Eat the food, get rid of the credit card.