How to Build a Food Storage On A Budget

Is cheap food storage really worth it?

Building long-term food storage is a process. It means buying food above and beyond our weekly grocery needs.

Because money spent at the grocery store can quickly add up, it may be tempting to buy the cheapest food possible to fill those pantry shelves.

However, to me, “cheap food storage” is pretty much synonymous with “low quality”. And that’s what you’re mostly gonna find in pre-made food storage packages at groceries. When I am thinking about what I want to feed my family when they are extra stressed because of a disaster/emergency, I don’t want low-quality food!

Some of the “cheap food storage” out there is scary–low calories, full of junk, and not great tasting.  Sure, you save a few bucks, but at what cost? When I look at it this way, I think,  “I don’t want cheap food storage!”

Yet at the same time, I don’t want expensive food storage either!  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that.  Few of us want to spend enormous amounts of money on our food storage, am I right?

Couple getting shocked by looking at their bill

What if I told you there are ways to get cheap food storage that is high quality?  Having been in this industry for years now, I have learned a few “tricks” for getting quality food for less, and I’d like to share them with you today.

Quality Cheap Food Storage Idea #1: LDS Home Storage Center

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka the Mormons or LDS church) has been teaching the importance of preparedness and food storage for years–since the 1800s.  The church itself practices what it preaches with grain stores, dairy farms, and cattle ranches all over.

They also provide quality food storage basics at cost–and anyone can buy them–not just members of the LDS church.  These facilities are run by volunteers, and the storehouses are paid for and maintained by donations from church members, which is why the food is available at cost.

There isn’t a HUGE variety of food available, but most basic food storage items plus some dehydrated fruits and vegetables are available.

DO NOT buy anything you can get at the home storage center anywhere else; it will be more expensive.  The only thing I don’t buy there is their milk.  I’m pretty picky about how milk tastes, and theirs isn’t great for drinking.  However, it does work well in baking!

If there is not a center near your home (you can check HERE), you can order the food online HERE.

You can also learn from this interview I did with the LDS Home Storage Center.

Quality Cheap Food Storage Idea #2: Thrive Life’s “Unadvertised Specials”

I love freeze-dried food.  It is easier to use in recipes than dehydrated, and it’s healthier.

Thrive Life is my very favorite freeze-dried food company.  They are the only company that freeze-dries their own food so they have incredible control over quality–and it shows!  Their food smells fresh when you open a can, and it is bright and colorful (and delicious).

But that quality comes at a price. Thrive typically isn’t cheap food storage.  They do have sales each month, and you can read about how to access some of those below under “Quality Cheap Food Storage Idea #5.”

The best-kept Thrive Life secret is their “unadvertised specials.”  These are packages that are 35%-50% off the retail price, but they aren’t available on the Thrive Life website.  They are only available through Thrive’s independent consultants; this gives consultants an “edge” when selling to customers–only consultants can offer the lowest prices.

Quality Cheap Food Storage Idea #3: Emergency Essentials Group Buys

To be honest, Emergency Essentials is not my favorite place for freeze-dried foods (Thrive is), but I have bought some dehydrated and more basic food products there and have been pleased. I mean, those ones that are essential staples for my emergency food pantry.

They have a group buy program which you can learn more about and sign up for HERE.  But the basic idea is that you buy 12+ of certain items each month and get a steep discount (30%-50% off) PLUS free shipping.

So, get a group together (family, like-minded neighbors, church group, etc.), and check out what products they are offering each month!

Quality Cheap Food Storage Idea #4: Grocery Stockpiling

I used to be a big-time “couponer.”  I even wrote a computer program that tracked six local grocery stores’ prices each week so that I’d know when something was on sale for its lowest price.  When that happened, I’d stock up and get quality cheap food storage.

For example, instead of paying $1.20 per can of pineapple by only buying it when I needed to use it that week, I’d pay $0.80 per can by buying 20 at once when they were on sale.  Then when I needed pineapple, I’d just shop on my own shelves instead of at the grocery stores.

When I stopped tracking prices myself each week (because it took 20+ hours!), I switched to using a service called Deals to Meals which is similar. I still use this service today to stock up on what they call the “Best star deals.”  It takes just minutes to find out what is on sale for its lowest price and add those things to my grocery list.

Each week, most of the self-stable items I buy are items I don’t necessarily need for that week’s meals; I’m just restocking my own shelves full of items my family uses while they are on sale for their lowest price.

Cheap food storage isn't always worth the savings when you consider the quality. Here are six ways to build a quality food storage for less.

Quality Cheap Food Storage Idea #5: The Thrive Q

As I mentioned above, Thrive Life has the highest quality freeze-dried foods.  If you want to include freeze-dried food in your storage, Thrive is the place to get it.

But there are certain products that are not a part of the “unadvertised specials” I mentioned above.  So, what then?

Well, they offer a monthly auto-ship program called the Thrive Q.  I love the Q for a few reasons:

#1 – It forces me to stick to a budget.  I decide what I can afford to spend on food storage each month, and then I spend that every month.  It forces me to make it a priority, but it also keeps me from splurging too much and going over budget.

#2 – Having a Q gives me access to a special deal each month called the “Q-pon.”  This is a product that is typically about 25%-30% off.  I apply the same logic here as I do to my grocery store stockpiling.  I stock up on THAT ONE ITEM when it is on sale for that low price, which means I don’t ever pay full price for any item.  I get quality cheap food storage! I mean, I’m good at comparing prices anyway.

If a certain month’s Q-pon isn’t an item you want/need, you could get a few of the other (10% off-ish) sale items, OR you can pause your Q that month and wait until something you do want is on the Q-pon.

#3 – I earn “points” I can use toward free food.  When you have a Q with Thrive, you will accumulate points when your Q ships each month.  You can then use those points to purchase food.  The rebate works out to be about 3%.  Free is about as cheap as it gets!

* You cannot pause your Q for the first three months, but after that you can pause anytime you want/need to.

*To get access to the Q-pon and the points, your Q budget needs to be at least $100 for the first three months.

You can get started creating a Q HERE.

Quality Cheap Food Storage Idea #6: Save and Splurge

If you are the type that can discipline yourself then this can be a great way to shop!  Set a monthly food storage budget and then save that much every month–but don’t spend it every month!

Wait for the right sales!

Thrive Life has two big sales each year–one over Black Friday weekend and one in the spring (usually March or April.)  This year (2017), it will be in April.

Emergency Essentials, Augason Farms and Honeyville typically have their biggest sales in September for National Preparedness Month, though you can usually find good deals around Black Friday as well.

You can usually save 30%-50% on quite a few items during these sales and score yourself some quality cheap food storage!

Quality Cheap Food Storage Idea #7: Buy in Bulk and Package It Yourself

Typically food is cheaper when you buy it in bulk.  Many dry goods are available in bulk at grocery stores or Costco/Sam’s Club.  If you invest in these and are willing to them package them for long-term storage yourself, you can save a good deal of money.

My friend Shelle from Preparedness Mama has a great article on how to do this:  How to Repackage Bulk Food for Storage.


So there you have it!  My secrets for getting quality cheap food storage without breaking the bank!  I hope they are helpful as you work to build quality food storage for your family!

Do you have any other tips for saving money while building quality food storage? Please share them in the comments!


A girl surprised by the price















Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

6 thoughts on “How to Build a Food Storage On A Budget”

  1. How would I find somewhere that tracks the stores in my area? I am in desperate need of saving money on food for my family, but we have mostly local stores here (besides walmart which I hate) so if I could find someone who tracked them then I could find the best deals. Please advise. Thanks bunches.

  2. The LDS home storage center is a great place to get “cheap” food storage. They have added a lot of new basic food options too, which as been exciting! Typically I like to buy their wheat, and store it in free food grade buckets I can get at the grocery store.

  3. I just recently received my first shipment from Thrive. I have used the celery and onions in chili. My family never knew the difference. Kale is great in smoothies. I am trying to stock up a little at a time. Where can I store all this stuff? Is it safe in an Arizona garage(northern AZ)? I can’t store all of it in my house. Keep up the fantastic work. You are amazing!

    • Hey Sue! It is “safe” to store outside / in heat. But you will lose shelf life. On average, you will cut your shelf life in half for every 10 degrees over 70. So, freeze dried food has a 25 year shelf life in “optimal” storage conditions. If you were to store it where it was 90 degrees on average, I’d plan on a 5-6 year shelf life. I hope that helps!


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