I wasn’t always interested in pantry economics. It was reading Joel Salatim’s books and Ben Faulk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead that opened my eyes to the world of how much money one can save by keeping stored food at hand. Faulk mentions within his book that keeping a properly stocked larder can actually save you money due to ever-increasing food costs due to inflation.
And his observations ring true. If we look at the cost of food from 1913 to 2021, we see that the average price of inflation is 3.12% per year. While the US Department of Labor states that food prices have risen 3.7% within the past 12 months , reality seems to be exponentially higher, with some reports stating that 40% is a much more realistic number.
Here’s a crash course in pantry economics that will show you the value of putting back some food.
Let’s assume we take the US Dep’t of Labor at face value, however
If such were truly the case, and inflation only rose 3.12% last year, that would mean if you’d bought $100 worth of canned food back in 2019, it would be worth $103.12 today, right? Perhaps $3 isn’t that exciting to you though.
If you say that you had spent $100 on canned food five years ago though it would mean you’d have $116.86 worth of food today. Again, however, this is assuming that the US Dep’t of Labor is telling the truth on those figures. If we look back at January 2017, we find that corn was selling for $358.00 per bushel. As of this writing (2021), corn is currently selling for $526.75. [source]
Does that sound like 3.12% inflation per year to you? If we look at wheat, we find that in January 2017 it was selling for $423.25 per bushel. As of this writing, wheat is selling for $720.50 per bushel. Again, is that 3.12% inflation? If we look at oats, we find that in January 2017 $223.30 per bushel was a standard price. Currently, oats are selling for $586.00 per bushel. [source]
Pantry economics is a winning hedge against inflation.
You probably get the point by now I’m trying to drive home
Inflation is much more than 3.12% per year when it comes to food, and if anything, it seems as if trends are accelerating for even further inflation at the moment when it comes to food prices. Remember that 40% inflation over the past year statistic we looked at earlier? That sounds much more reasonable than the “official” 3.12% now, does it not?
Even if we assume that things were to level off from 40% to 10% inflation per year for food by 2022 (and looking at current economic trends, this is a pipe dream of a number), you still stand to get a 10% return on your investment by putting money into canned food and other storable food items now.
Where else do you know of that you can get 10% return on investment the next year? Can you think of anyplace more tangible to see your money increase than with food? Sure, you could always put that $100 into a mutual fund, individual stocks, annuities, bonds, or what have you, but if we consider the economic trends of the past 100+ years (1913-2021), you stand a very good chance to actually save yourself money down the road by investing in stored food today.
Pantry economics: a fully stocked larder can save you heartache in the future
At the moment, grocers around the world are having a difficult time keeping their shelves stocked. Everybody is well familiar with the toilet paper shortage of early 2020. It seems as if there’s an everything shortage for 2021.
Within the UK, stated shortages of truck drivers are keeping grocery store shelves empty. [source] Within the US, we’re seeing staffing shortages being a large cause of massive food shortages. [source]
Food security matters
In such an event, a fully stocked larder not only means an economic means of ensuring that your family has food to eat in future years, but it also proves to be a drastic layer of food security.
Whether grocery stores go barren, you lose a job and are unable to bring in a paycheck for some time, or something else happens that makes it so that you aren’t able to get ready access to fresh food from your local grocer, practicing pantry economics in the form of a fully stocked larder can help to serve as a form of economic mitigation against financial duress.
Many people condone storing up an emergency fund to get one through brief periods of financial troubles (e.g. Dave Ramsey’s 3-months’ earnings fund), but why don’t we as a culture consider the same with food? Not only does it save one money in the long run, but it is an economical way to prepare for the unforeseen events of life as well.
What do you think about pantry economics?
What are your thoughts on pantry economics? Are there other components here you think we should have covered? Has this article got you to consider storing food? Let us know in the comments below!
*Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor, nor do I pretend to be. None of the above is financial advice. If you are seeking professional financial advice, seek out a licensed financial advisor.