I can’t believe it’s now November. I don’t know where the time is going and I’m not not just thinking about Thanksgiving, but also Diwali (which is today) and the upcoming holidays like Hannukah and Christmas. Then there is the truth that winter is coming.

When I began this series over a month ago, I had a plan on how I was going to lay everything out. I had an order to the posts and it was all very logical and efficient. But then I started hearing about the supply chain shortages, and this weekend I tried to buy Halloween candy and socks. Thank goodness I had bought one bag of candy a few weeks ago, so I had enough candy (barely!). But I was shocked that not only could I not find candy in any store (I tried Walmart, Giant, Target, Wegman’s, and CVS), I couldn’t find my husband’s favorite brand of socks. Socks!

I know we’re all still working through the house and decluttering and making lists (weeks 1-4), but I want to pivot (again!) because I believe these supply chain issues are going to get worse before they get better. I’m not suggesting we run out in a frenzy of unfocused shopping where we bust the monthly budget. I’m talking about taking a logical stock of food and household items you’re going to need for the holidays and winter and listing what you need now.

We will be talking about winter clothing and shoes next week.

If you already live in a home or homestead that requires wood for your wood burning stove, or fuel for your generator, I’m sure you already have everything you need. I am really talking to people who don’t normally worry about thinking ahead and just order what they need whenever they need it. I’m worried that this will not be the case for this coming winter. If you’re used to just buying what you need when you need it, I suggest you may want to rethink that strategy.

So if you’re not a natural prepper or planner, what do you do? Luckily, if you’ve been doing your homework I’ve laid out in this series (recap below this post), you’ve already been working through your house and figuring out what you need food-wise and cleaning-wise to keep the household running. If those lists are done, then your first homework this week is easy,

Homework Assignment 1: Review your lists of cleaning supplies you use, meals you make often, and any holiday foods you’re considering making. Once you have those lists (they don’t need to be beautiful), go through your pantry and storage areas and ask yourself this question. Do you have enough cleaning supplies and laundry detergent and paper products on hand for the next four months? Do you have your favorite non-perishable foods in your pantry? If there’s anything you need to purchase, tear a sheet out from one of you legal pads and make a new, clean shopping list. Then begin checking prices online and reviewing your coupons (if you use coupons). While you don’t need to buy everyone now, review your budget and make a plan. What can you buy for the next few weeks?

For those of us who use coupons, here is a list of apps that offer digital coupons for everything from food to fresh produce to cleaning supplies. While it’s easy to defer to the bigger online retailers, sometimes the best prices are at the stores you would never think of. The apps below make it easy to compare prices and check coupon redemption rates. Also, many stores will still give you the discount for up to two days after a coupon’s expiration date. It’s always worth asking!

  1. If your grocery store uses digital coupons, now is the time to update the app for your favorite store. Or all of them so you can compare. These are some of the grocery apps I use: https://giantfood.com/home, https://www.wegmans.com, & https://www.aldi.us/en/
  2. https://www.coupons.com (coupons from all manufacturers on a large variety of products)
  3. https://www.pggoodeveryday.com (coupons for selected Proctor & Gamble products)
  4. https://www.pampers.com (if you have babies & toddlers, this site always has interesting holiday offers that includes toys and clothes)
  5. https://www.kelloggsfamilyrewards.com (coupons for selected Kelloggs products and rewards program)
  6. https://www.bettycrocker.com (free recipes and coupons for Betty Crocker products)
  7. https://www.pillsbury.com (free recipes and coupons for Pillsbury products)
  8. https://redplum.com (this company is one of the groups that offer printed coupons in the Sunday paper, but the website offers more digital options)
  9. http://commonkindness.com (coupon and fundraising company that offers coupons on organic products and natural foods)
  10. https://www.cvs.com (CVS has a free and a paid coupon program. Go with the free program because it sometimes offers secret deals that can beat other retailers)
  11. https://www.walgreens.com (like CVS above, Walgreens coupons can sometimes beat the bigger retailers.)
  12. https://www.bjs.com (big box membership store that has great online deals shipped nationally and gives you a one-day free pass to shop)
  13. https://blackfriday.com (coupon site that monitors Black Friday sales and flyers from stores around the country. I go to the website but don’t get their emails because they can be kind of spammy. Although you can find some great deals.)

Now that we have a list of non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, and household goods that we’re going to need for the next few months, and we have our coupons, we can begin planning out how and when to go shopping. I prefer to budget out how much extra I’m going to spend each week and do my store runs (if not shopping online) in one day. There is no one way to do this. The important thing is that it gets done with little stress and without breaking the budget. You may shop once a month. Or do a little each day, using only cash. However you do this is fine as long as you keep track of you expenses and truly buy only what you need.

Homework Assignment 2: Finalize shopping list with coupons and make a plan on which stores to shop in, when the sales are, and how to budget for these extra expenses over the next few weeks.

I’m going to stop here for this week. Below is a recap of everything we’ve already done. This is a lot to think about and a lot of planning to do. But I believe in you! If you take the time now to review what you need for winter and make a plan for how and when to shop, you’ll be less stressed as the stores run out of things. And next week we’ll talk about short-term storage and making lists of winter clothing and shoes. Have a great prepping week!


RECAP:

In Week One, we are using our three legal pads to do our homework. First, we’re doing a whole house assessment. This includes a light clean up/decluttering so we can evaluate the details of each room: how many interior/exterior doors, how many windows, type of electronics, proximity to water/bathrooms, etc. This is an enormous project so please take all the time you need. This first step is crucial to setting up a plan.

Week One’s second assignment was to make a list of all the possible disasters that could happen in your area. Anything floods to hurricanes to blizzards to riots. On the second half of the page, keep a list of the disasters that have happened to you or your family personally. Keep this list on your refrigerator or someplace where it would be easy to add to. This will be an ongoing list we’ll use later on when we begin long-term planning.

Week One’s third assignment was to start a meal list–listing every meal you eat in a month. So this is ongoing homework until you feel you have a good idea of what meals and foods/snacks you eat and drink every day, every week, every month. (this is not a grocery list!)

Week Two’s first assignment was to make a list of all the cleaning supplies you use in every room of the house. And note those products you love and don’t love. 

Week Two’s second assignment was to schedule when you’re going to do a deep review and clean of each room. And don’t forget to set up meals and rewards ahead of time!

Week Three’s assignment: Figure out your menu for the next month or two (depending on the holidays you celebrate and all the things/visitors you have planned). Make an ingredient list and, from that, make a shopping list. Don’t forget to include any cleaning supplies that you might need (from last week’s list), especially any specialty or seasonal items like silver polish and Lysol.

Week Four’s assignment: Review the 2021 Thanksgiving Planner and Thanksgiving Portion Planner and decide what needs to be done when. Begin budgeting and food shopping for non-perishable items.

Week Five’s assignments: Think longer term about non-perishable food and household products (cleaning, paper products, etc). Make a list of what you need for the next four months to get you through the worst of the winter. Collect coupons and check prices and make a plan for how and when you’re going to purchase these things before the stores run out.

That’s it for this week! There’s still a lot of work to be done in the homework assignments, but hopefully you’re coming along and getting it all done. I promise it’ll feel great knowing that we won’t be rushing around this winter looking for laundry detergent and toilet paper. While people are throwing down in the big box stores, we’ll be home watching holiday movies and playing board games with our families while drinking peppermint mocha lattes and eating chocolate brownies.


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