How to Create Food Security During Record Inflation

food security text over a gray monochromatic image of wheat
Cheri Moore

Written by Cheri Moore

February 12, 2024

I wrote how to create food security during record inflation to help my clients with food allergies lower their grocery bill while improving their ear health. Then, I realized that everyone with and without food allergies could benefit from eating healthier at a lower cost resulting in a series of gut to ear to brain health blogs. What are the benefits? Countless: focus, energy, and overall health.

Life is not as simple as running to the grocery store when you are out of eggs to finish the recipe that is half done on your kitchen counter anymore. The last few years have made history for various reasons. One is the overwhelming sense of food insecurity that left me searching for answers. Now, it gives me joy to freely share all the wonderful resources that give me food security.

food security written on wooden blocks with the letter o in food as green tomatoes

A Memory

I have been eating gluten free for over a decade, but how and what I eat has changed drastically over the years. When I began this journey with my family, gluten free products were only available at specialty grocery stores. Resources on how to bake gluten free were scarce. Store products were too expensive to feed a family and often spiked my blood sugar. At first, I wondered how would I bake my favorite banana bread when I could no longer use the main ingredient, flour.

I have always gravitated towards cooking from scratch and growing a garden. When I was 13 years old, my dad moved from the city to the country. My health improved so much that I have always done everything possible to grow my own food. I loved working outside with my father. Before our move, I rarely saw him. And, I enjoyed learning how to cook from my mother. Never would I have imagined the value of those special years.

Because of the scarcity of gluten free products just ten years ago, it forced me to gain food security by learning to bake with different gluten free grains. I was determined to once again eat chocolate chip banana bread with just the right texture. Now as inflation stretched our grocery budget, I found myself reaching for my grain mill more and more leaving the convenient gluten free products on the shelf. Imagine my surprise when I felt improvements in my health.

A Bit of Fun

Do you like to have a bit of fun challenging people’s assumptions? If so, here is an idea.

Using one of my gluten and dairy free bread recipes, bake for a party or event. Refrain from telling them anything, just watch. Typically, a few ask for the recipe or share a feeling of guilt as they reach for that second muffin topped with cream cheese or cool whip. When they do, enjoy the look of disbelief on their face as you share that they are eating bread made from gluten free, freshly milled flour full of fiber and nutrients. The bread is so healthy you can eat all you want.

Each picture-by-picture recipe is very time consuming to create. Please help me share them.

Now when questions abound, I share the resources in my gut health blogs. If you would like to learn more, all you need is a bit of time to sit down with your favorite drink and your cell phone or computer to read our blogs on how to improve your gut health. Each picture-by-picture recipe is very time consuming to create. Please help me share them.

Food Security is A Community Grain Mill Adventure

What started my interest in sharing my recipes and grain mill resulting in a new adventure? My never-ending curiosity and love of teaching. When my husband shared that he planned to teach a Financial Peace class, an idea popped into my head. I wondered if others would be interested in learning how to bake and cook using freshly milled flours. With a loaf of freshly baked bread, we could bless that new mom who just gave birth while her husband is deployed to some faraway place. Or lift the spirits of a neighbor.

How do you start this adventure? How do you create food security? Your first step is to figure out what type(s) of grain or flour you want to stock your pantry with. I encourage you to buy small quantities of a few different flour types like coconut, amaranth, oat, and millet flour to see if you like them. Then, create your own food security by purchasing the flour, or even better the grain, in bulk.

Buying in Bulk: A Big Bill Shared Followed by Savings for Months

It takes a small leap of faith to buy in bulk, because it is a big commitment of not only your financial resources, but also your time. A 25lb bag of flour or grain in your home creates food security. When you commit your time to cooking, baking, and eating at home, not only will you save money, but as most of my friends agree, food begins to taste better. And most importantly, they began to experience improvements in their health.

large brown bag of grain opened laying on its side with a wooden scoop of grain in front of it for food security

Buying in bulk is like tapping the first domino. It creates a chain reaction of food security. You have essential ingredients in your pantry and endless recipes at your fingertips on this website and others. Your motivation or inspiration to use them grows as you see a shift in your budget, your daily habits, and your health.

Discover Food Security: A Community Co-op

So where do you buy in bulk and how can it be financially feasible? Buying in bulk reduces the cost per unit. When you are looking at the price of grain or flour, the cost is measured per pound. The more pounds you buy, the cheaper per pound it becomes.

Often, a 50lb bag of grain has the lowest cost per pound, but you find yourself asking where am I going to store all of that grain? The best way to store grain is in food grade 5 gallon buckets with gamma lids. These can be found at your local hardware store and online.

The next question you may find yourself asking is how am I going to use all of this grain before it goes bad? Whole grains last for over 7 years when stored properly.

Finally, you may be asking how can I afford a 50lb bag of grain. The key is community. When you embark on this journey, you will discover you are not alone. Whether it is family or friends who come alongside you or new acquaintances, you will discover your community. In that community ask people if they want to split the 50 pound bag of grain, flour, sugar, etc. Doing so will get you the lowest unit price while only technically purchasing the amount you need or can afford.

Where to Look for Bulk Items to Create Food Security and Beat Inflation

inflation graph

The internet is full of resources. Hone in your search by looking for community food co-ops, local grain mills, local organic farmers, and even farmers’ markets.

One of my favorite resources is Azure Standard, an online organic bulk food distributor. You shop online on their website like many other online grocery stores but without a membership fee. Then, you pick up your order once a month at a drop location in your community. The cost of shipping is drastically reduced by Azure Standard, because everyone picks up their order at the drop location instead of it being delivered to their doorstep. One 18-wheeler travels to multiple drop locations helping hundreds of families save money and eat healthier.

The Challenge of Communicating: A Community Grain Mill

Ironically, I thought I would be challenging others to save money and eat healthier. However, I am the one who ended up with a challenge. I failed to recognize the innate knowledge I have gained over the years of cooking and baking. Thus, I wrote 5 Ways to Save Money While Eating Healthier and numerous other gut health blogs. As I taught, I realized the need for additional instructions, videos, and pictures.

Right now, inflation limits our ability to spend money now to save money later. Thus, our need for buying food in bulk as a community is even more prevalent. A Sam’s or Costco membership is a huge help when trying to stock your pantry to create food security.

stocked pantry with jars of flours, spices, and sugars that creates food security

When you are at the grocery store and look at the price difference between organic and conventional foods, it is easy to think you are unable to afford organic foods. However, what I show you below will challenge your thinking and help you develop a plan.

Also, I urge you to dig a little deeper beyond the sticker price. Ask yourself what am I purchasing week after week? What sits in the back of my pantry? And lastly, what foods nourish my mind and body?

Why Should I go to All This Effort?

Physical health, energy, and freedom from pain is not a gift in life. You have to steward your health. No one else can do it for you. You are the only one who chooses what you eat, what your daily habits are, and how you exercise. Health is the primary motivator that keeps me learning.

About 10 years ago, I started eating gluten and dairy free hoping to reduce joint pain and stop GI distress. After seeing improvements in my daughter’s health, I was hopeful. We made many mistakes along the way. Together we learned that condiments, soaps, spices, and soups contain gluten. Once replaced with gluten free products, there were no more hives or upset stomachs. However, when we made a mistake our body was well enough to loudly protest.

For me, a mistake causes my spine to feel on fire. The inflammation gives me a terrible headache. The biggest mistake I made was milling gluten free grains in my old mill. We both suffered for a bit longer until I learned about cross-contamination. Residue from grain is left behind inside of your mill.

Non-GMO and Organic are Not the Same

One mistake occurred this past year. After mold in a rental home destroyed my grain mill, I had no choice but to buy gluten free flours and ready made breads. I thought buying non-GMO bread and treats was safe. That is until my joint pain and foot pain returned along with swollen knuckles. Was I just getting old? Time to look for answers!

comparison chart of gmo and organic regulations

In my blog, How I Found My Energy and Reduced My Joint Pain, I share that non-GMO crops can legally be sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. They are not organic. Thus, this past October I made up my mind to only buy organic foods. No more cheating. If it is not organic, I am not eating that slice of bread, muffin, or treat off the grocery store shelf or from the bakery.

I am on this journey with you looking for affordable food!

Is it worth it? I will let you be the judge. For myself, the answer is a resounding, YES!

Just 6 weeks after removing non-GMO foods and gluten-free processed foods, my knuckles look normal versus three times the normal size. Now, that is motivation!

Final Thoughts On Buying in Bulk to Create Food Security

You are saving much more than money on your grocery bill. Poor health affects our ability to work and contributes to medical bills. Remember that old saying, pay now or you will pay later? Enjoy building a lifetime of memories and healthy eating habits with your family. How do you build this new habit as a family?

When your loved ones see a treat at the store, simply ask, “What type of _ shall we bake?” Then, buy the ingredients. The cost savings build up because the ingredients you buy allow you to bake that recipe and similar recipes numerous different times. This creates food security. Also, the health benefits are priceless as you avoid processed foods. I share the evidence in my blog, Why Milling Grain Enhances Your Life and Saves Money.

Once you start your plan, purposely set aside any leftover grocery money in a special category to pay for bulk purchases like grain, beans, vegetables for canning, or even half a cow to fill your freezer. You may even have enough money to buy what you need to can vegetables, buy a fishing license, or go hunting.

Bulk Buying Resources

Today, there are numerous companies that sell both gluten free and gluten full organic grains, flours, and products.

Oldways Whole Grains Council provides a national search engine helping you find a nearby farmer. These farmers specialize in growing heirloom, non-genetically modified crops using growing methods that increase the flavor of the grain. Thus, strive to use holistic farming methods.

When we started learning about all the small-scale, local grain production happening in communities around the country, we decided to lend a hand by creating a hub of resources to help draw and strengthen the connections between consumers and the local or regional grain economies developing around them.

          Oldways Whole Grain Council

Great River Organic Milling company sells celiac safe gluten free grains that are harvested with equipment that only comes into contact with gluten free grains. And, a separate mill protects gluten free grains as it is ground into flour from cross-contamination. They ship their products through Amazon. A great convenient source for celiac families to work on creating food security.

Online through Azure Standard, you can find a community food drop location near your home. Each drop is hosted by different families throughout the United States. You can buy exactly what you need for your family.

Summary of Financial Benefits of Purchasing Grain in Bulk for Food Security

When deciding where to buy your organic flours and grains, look at their price per pound posted by the whole unit cost. Also, look for organic products, which means they are also non-GMO. Below I compare the cost of grains purchased online versus store bought versus through a community food co-op like Azure Standard.

In Why Milling Enhances Your Life and Saves Money, I share that steel cut oats have a shorter storage life in contrast to the much longer storage life of oat groats. Thus, I always purchase oat groats. However, I have only found oat groats for purchase online. If you need to share the cost, ask a trusted friend or family member to share the cost of a larger bulk purchase.

Oat Groat Price Comparision

Azure Standard prices are from December 15, 2022, for Organic oat groats:

50 pounds cost $59.02 at $1.18 a pound
25 pounds cost $31.86 at $1.27 a pound
05 pounds cost $ 8.67 at $1.73 a pound

The cost per pound of 5 pounds of Azure organic oat groats is $1.73 Purchasing the larger bulk size of 25 pounds saves you $0.46 cents per pound. I multiplied 0.46 cents times 25 pounds for a total savings of $11.25. Every cent is a savings.

The cost per pound of store bought Bob’s Red Mill organic steel cut oats is about $1.99 per pound. The cost is significantly higher online through Walmart for organic oat groats:

3 pounds for $18.99 at $6.33 per pound
2 pounds for $17.99 at $9.00 per pound

Vitacost was a bit more reasonable at $4.59 for the brand Bob’s Red Mill. But, you still have shipping costs.

Millet Price Comparision

Next, I compared the cost of another common grain I use in my recipes: whole
millet grain purchased at Azure Standard:

5 pounds for $7.64 at $1.53 a pound
25 pounds for $31.32 at $1.25 a pound
50 pounds for $62.64 at $1.25 a pound

At Walmart online, the brand Food to Live sells organic millet flour, not the grain. The cost of 1 pound of millet flour is $14.99. On Amazon, I found 1 pound 12 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill non-organic whole millet grain for $24.01 (about $15.00 a pound). Why such a huge price difference? You are paying for far more than just the grain (shipping, storing, man hours). I much rather drive to a community food drop location and pay $1.53 a pound.

To broaden your perspective, consider how much millet is used in a typical recipe, about one and a fourth cups of millet. When you mill, one cup of millet grain produces about 1 cup of flour. According to The Calculator Site, one pound of flour gives you 3 and ⅔ cups of flour. That means 1lb of millet grain gives you enough millet flour for roughly 3 recipes of gluten and dairy free pumpkin spice bread, chocolate chip banana bread, or holiday spice zucchini bread.

In conclusion, the wisest choice is to purchase grain in bulk from companies like Azure Standard or search for an affordable local supplier.

I welcome comments, questions, and insights that help our community. My picture-by-picture recipe directions provide much more than a list of ingredients. They share tips to help you create delicious foods with the perfect texture using a combination of nutritious gluten free flours.

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