I’ve written about stockpiles before because I truly believe stockpiles are one of the best and most effective ways to save money on your grocery budget. That said, I also know that stockpiling brings to mind images of extreme hoarders for some. For that reason, I want to talk a bit more about how to build a stockpile that saves YOUR family money.
I truly believe everyone can and should have a stockpile. It’s great practical insurance against an emergency. Receive an unexpected bill this month? Need to pay for a sudden car repair? Trying to reach a savings goal quickly? The answer to all these is to eat from your stockpile! A well-built and maintained stockpile is a practical way to be prepared for the unexpected and save money.
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What is a stockpile?
A stockpile can simply be defined as buying ahead of time – on sale – multiple items your family regularly uses. When you buy the items on sale, you can dramatically cut your grocery bill.
For example, if your children eat peanut butter sandwiches every day for lunch, the next time you see a sale on peanut butter – buy enough to last you for the next 2 or 3 months, instead of buying a new jar every time you run out. You know you will use it, plus you know that sales run in 8 to 12 week rotations.
For that reason, it only makes sense to buy more than what you need at this immediate moment. When you buy an item on sale (for $1.50 instead of $2.79), you are saving yourself a dollar when you can shop from your stockpile instead of running out to the grocery store. And that savings is just on one item! Imagine how the savings increase when your stockpile is full of items your family regularly uses.
What should I keep in my stockpile?
The answer to this varies for every individual and every family. To answer this question, start by thinking of what your family regularly eats. It doesn’t do you any good to stockpile items that you won’t eat or use. It’s a waste of space, time and money.
This is also how to build a stockpile that saves your family money. Every one’s stockpile looks different based on their unique family needs. You need to take the time to think honestly about what your family needs and uses.
I recommend you start by thinking through your top 10 recipes that you regularly cook. What items do you need for those recipes? Do you eat pasta at least once a week? Do you serve canned vegetables as side dishes? Does your family like to eat Mexican food (enchiladas, tacos or nachos) regularly? Do you bake a lot from scratch and go through flour quickly?
From your recent menus, start by making a list of 10 to 20 items you use almost every week. You can also include toiletries and paper products because we all need toilet paper! If you have an extra freezer, expand your list to include perishables that you can freeze. If you need more ideas, here are 10 items that I think almost every family can and should stockpile. Again, if you don’t use it…don’t stockpile it!
For those questions, you should have a good beginning idea of what to stockpile for your family.
How do I build a stockpile?
Now that you know what items your family regularly eats and uses, it’s time to start building a stockpile that works for you! The most important principle of stockpiling is to buy items when they are on sale. Of course, you will save even more if you can combine the sale with a coupon.
That said, it’s important to wait for a good sale. Once you see a sale where an item on your stockpile list is dramatically reduced, buy enough to get you through the next 2 or 3 months. Why? Because stores run sales in 8 to 12 week cycles. You don’t have to stock-up for the rest of your life. Just buy enough to get you to the next sale.
However, if it’s something that doesn’t expire (like paper products) and it’s a really good deal, feel free to buy a bit more – if you have the room in your budget. For those of you with a budget that fluctuates, you may decide to purchase a bit more in your stockpile. As I mentioned at the beginning, a stockpile can be practical insurance against a missed paycheck or a season of lower income.
As you start to build a stockpile, you might find yourself spending a bit more money on your grocery bills. That is normal. Once you have been stockpiling for a couple months and have quite a few items already set aside, your grocery bill will begin to drop because you are just filling in gaps with sales.
Where do I store a stockpile?
This seems a common question but it has a simple answer. You can store a stockpile anywhere!
When I lived in a 1940s Cape Cod house with a tiny gallery kitchen, I had one narrow pantry to store all my food items. The rest we’re stored in the basement on metal shelves. Even now, my stockpile is scattered around! I have a separate set of plastic shelves for paper goods (Kleenex, toilet paper and paper towels) in another section of the basement. Extra toiletries are stored in the bathroom.
When I lived in an apartment, I stored many things in my hall coat closet. I know people who have stored canned goods under their beds. You can put items in bins or boxes, but you don’t have to. Simply find a space and make it work for you.
Under the kitchen sink can be a great place for extra cleaning supplies. A high shelf in the bathroom can store toiletries for your stockpile. Paper towels and Kleenex can go on the coat closet floor. If it’s not too hot (or cold), you can even store some things in the garage. It’s doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to work. Be creative and think outside the box.
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to start building a stockpile that works for you and your family. Don’t compare your stockpile to someone else’s. Buy what you need and use and you will save money. If you want more tips on how to start building a stockpile, check out this article here.
And before you go, what do you keep in your stockpile? Peanut butter, pasta, canned vegetables, applesauce, and toilet paper are a few items you will always find in mine!