Stockpiling is a very simple concept–you buy a large quantity of things when things are cheap or free. Having the ability to combine coupons during a sale can often result in a great deal! Often with a great deal –I can buy 25 of an item for what ONE item may normally cost. I love to take advantage of great deals as it gives me the option to stock my pantry so I have items available when I need them. This can be a HUGE way to save money and time! If I have a stocked pantry and freezer I do not need to pay full price for items needed for a recipe or daily meals. I have the option to create my menu based on my current inventory and take into consideration the weekly sales available. It is also a lifesaver when someone in my family is in need of a health related item. If my kids ever wake in the middle of the night with a fever–I KNOW that I always have Motrin or Tylenol available. If my husband cuts his finger and needs a bandage–I am prepared. If my mother comes to visit and needs a heartburn remedy –I only need to walk to my pantry. Having the ability to be prepared gives me peace of mind as well as a fat pocketbook! If you have ever had to run to the drugstore to buy Tylenol for a sick child you know that you might easily spend $5+ for a small bottle! That would not be an issue if you had built a stockpile and purchased the medication when it was free or cheap!
How much is enough? I try to buy enough of an item to hold me until the next sale. There is some guesswork involved but generally sales cycle at least every 12 weeks or so. So I tend to use that as a guideline. I also take into account whether I can freeze the item to extend the shelf life. If I can get meat for free or super cheap I will buy as much as possible as it can remain in the freezer for several months! For things that do not expire I buy as many as I possibly can–especially when they are FREE! I also take into consideration the date of the coupon that correlates with the sale. If I have a “hot” high value coupon that is close to expiration–I may purchase a bit more since “hot” coupons may not be around at all times of the year. For example: Huggies coupons are generally $1.50-$2.00 off per item…so if they put out a $5 coupon– that is a hot coupon and worth looking to see where you can use it to get the best deal.
You will notice that sales correlate with the season or time of the year. You will rarely see big deals on charcoal in the winter. Canned pumpkin is often on sale during the fall around Thanksgiving, etc… That is something I will think about when determining how much to buy. Of course many items are not season specific –but once you start using coupons you will start to see trends in the types of coupons and values available. It is kinda fun waiting to see what the next big deal may be. I still get excited when a deal comes along that adds a big chunk to my stockpile.
Another way to determine how much to buy is to look at your current usage. If my family uses one bottle of Motrin per year–then a stockpile might be 4 bottles as that is the most I could imagine possibly needing before it would expire. If another deal on Motrin occurs I can then grab 1 or 2 and donate the ones I have to make sure they are being used by someone rather than tossing them when they expire! For something like black beans–they have a shelf life of a few years…so when I was able to get them for a few cents per can–I purchased 100 cans. Items like household cleaners do not generally expire–so if they are free I will get as many as possible. I then have the option to give some to friends/family or donate them to those that may not be as fortunate. Of course you have to consider your ability to store the items you purchase–but I have seen some people get very creative in their storage options. I guess my point is that you have to determine what is appropriate for your family’s needs –both in use and ability to maintain the quantity!
I choose to maintain a supply of items in the areas where they are used and the excess is stored into my stockpile room. I turned a huge closet in our guest suite into what my husband calls “little Wamart”. I have everything organized so that I can quickly scan my inventory to see what I may need to re-stock. I also have everything organized so that the items that expire soonest can be used first. I typically do a check every 2-3 months and pull any items that may be expiring soon or within the time we can use it and donate those items so that others can use it!
What is a stock up price? There is really no perfect answer to this question. It will vary by item and by person. We are not huge cereal eaters so any price less than $.25 is my stock up price for cereal. We can go without cereal but we will eat it if I can get it really cheap. A family that goes through 4 boxes per week may say $1.00 is stock up price! You have to determine your need and this will help you determine your purchase now price point. If I have 40 pounds of meat in the freezer my stock up price will be much different than if I only had 2 lbs of chicken available in the freezer. The more I have in stock allows me to be choosy and wait until the price is just right! You will notice that I post what I call Super Deals–these are items that are most likely stock up priced or deals that are not generally available frequently.
Should I set aside a specific amount of money to start working on my stockpile? Sure–if you have the funds available. Stockpiling now will save you money in the future! There is really no need to be in a rush to build your stockpile. The really good deals will be sporadic and are generally a suprise when they come about. Start slow–as you use coupons more effectively you will see your weekly spending decrease month by month. You will then have more money available to use for stockpiling or to use as you deem appropriate.
Several of you have asked what kind of meals I prepare as often there is no meat on my Weekly Totals listings. The reason you may not see meat on my list is because of my stockpile. I am sure if someone who does not use coupons were to look at my weekly grocery list they would think I was insane. We are not vegetarians, we do not go out to eat every night and no–I am not making my kids eat ketchup as a meal Most of the things I buy on my weekly shopping trips may not be used for several months! Buying ahead allows me to save time and money…it also makes menu planning MUCH easier!
How long can you store things before they go bad? Most items have a printed expiration date on the package. I found this great chart on the USDA.gov website that tells you the appropriate storage amount for meats:
Freezer Storage Chart (0 °F)
Note: Freezer storage is for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.
|Bacon and Sausage||1 to 2|
|Casseroles||2 to 3|
|Egg whites or egg substitutes||12|
|Frozen Dinners and Entrees||3 to 4|
|Gravy, meat or poultry||2 to 3|
|Ham, Hotdogs and Lunchmeats||1 to 2|
|Meat, uncooked roasts||4 to 12|
|Meat, uncooked steaks or chops||4 to 12|
|Meat, uncooked ground||3 to 4|
|Meat, cooked||2 to 3|
|Poultry, uncooked whole||12|
|Poultry, uncooked parts||9|
|Poultry, uncooked giblets||3 to 4|
|Soups and Stews||2 to 3|
|Wild game, uncooked||8 to 12|
Since I can’t provide a chart for every item–I would recommend doing a little investigating to make sure you are storing food properly and for the correct amount of time.