Why You Need a Grocery Stockpile (and How to Grow One)

It’s because I’m an extreme couponer, that I always have an abundance of grocery items in my home. Canned goods, bathroom tissue, shampoo & conditioner, toothpaste, cereal – everything I can get for my home at a fraction of the original price.

I get so many items for free or pennies on the dollar, that I would be crazy not to stock up on these things. Things that my family uses on a regular basis.

No, this is not hoarding. This is stockpiling, and here is why I believe that YOU also need a stockpile in your home:

Canadian-Stockpile Canadian-Stockpile

Why you need one:

1. You save money. This one is obvious, but I’ll mention it anyway. When you see items on sale that are regularly used in your home, stock up. Buy 2, 3, 10 of the same item. This is going save you from paying full price the next time you need those items.

Of course, be realistic about what you should stockpile. If you don’t eat much pasta, you probably don’t need 20 bags of it in your stockpile – even if it would cost you next to nothing to buy it all.

2. You avoid last minute trips to the store. How many times have you had to run out to the grocery store to pick up 1 or 2 items that you need for something you are making for dinner? I used to do that all the time, but not anymore.

Instead of running out to the store to pick something up, you can just go right to your stockpile and get it – for “free”.

3. You are prepared for emergencies. If an emergency ever comes up (and not just a natural disaster, like a hurricane or something of that nature, but job loss or severe sickness), you don’t have to worry about grocery shopping because you will already have the majority of what you need in your stockpile.

You may need to purchase a few things, like fresh produce, eggs and milk, but other than that, you should be set for awhile if you’ve stockpiled enough to hold you over.

How much is enough?

This really depends for each family or individual. The first thing you need to do is figure out how long you want your stockpile to last. I recommend a minimum of 3 months, and most people I know prefer their stockpile to last 6-12 months (myself included).

The best way to determine how much you need to stockpile is to keep track of what you are currently using and how fast you go through it.

 

How to grow a grocery stockpile:

1. Once you have decided on how long you want your stockpile to last, you will have a rough idea of how much of each particular item you need to stockpile.

Start by watching the sales at your local grocery stores. If you see any fantastic sales (not just “good” sales, but “fantastic” sales!), stock up on those items and add them to your stockpile. Remember to only stockpile what you will be able to use before the expiration date.

2. Use coupons to save even more money on your stockpile items. You don’t have to, of course, but coupons will drastically reduce the amount you have to pay out of pocket for your groceries, so I highly recommend them.

But that could just be because I am a bit coupon obsessed. Either way, use coupons, or don’t. It doesn’t matter. Even just stocking up on sale items is going to save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

3. Make sure you set a budget for how much you can spend on stockpiling. This is very important. I recommend $5-$20 per week for stockpiling (more, if you can afford it). Don’t go over this budgeted amount. If you do, your savings will go up in smoke.

If you don’t use all of your “stockpile allowance” in one week, carry it over to the next week. Some weeks are better than others for great sales.

 

Stockpile storage ideas:

One concern I often hear from people who are considering stockpiling is that they don’t have anywhere to store the items that they would want to keep on hand in their stockpile.

To that, I say: “nonsense!”.

There are many places that you can store your stockpile, even if you live in a tiny little apartment. Here are a few examples:

1. Closet

If you have a closet that is getting little to no use, you can store your stockpile items in there. Sure, you may not be able to store too much (unless you have a big, walk-in closet), but even a small stockpile is better than no stockpile at all.

2. Basement or Garage

Carve a bit of space out of your garage or basement to stick a shelf or two and store your stockpile items there. Be mindful of the temperature in these areas, though. You don’t want to store most stockpile items in a place with a lot of humidity or areas that often get extremely cold.

3. All over your home

If there is nowhere in your home that you can store all of your stockpile items in one spot, try the “all over” approach. Keep bathroom items in the bathroom, keep laundry items in the laundry room, keep food in the kitchen and dining room, keep cleaning supplies in bathrooms, the kitchen and your linen closet.

 

Do I think that everyone needs to have a stockpile? Yes (well, unless you don’t mind throwing money into the trash every week by paying full price).

Do you need to be a coupon user to have a stockpile? Absolutely not.

Stockpiling is something anyone can do, and that everyone should be doing if they want to save money. Just remember that it takes time to grow a stockpile – it doesn’t happen overnight. The main thing is that you are saving money. If you’re doing that, you’re doing it just right.

 

Cassie Howard is a work at home mom living in Vaughan, Ontario. She writes daily on her coupon blog: MrsJanuary.com – a website dedicated to frugal living. She’s what many would call an extreme couponer and saves an average of 50% off her grocery bill every week.

 

 

 


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Comments

  1. says

    Great advice! I know we are extremely unprepared for any type of emergency situation when it comes to food/water stockpiles. It’s something I really need to work on. Thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    We always stock up on staples that don’t go bad, things like canned veggies, boxes of pasta, etc. One important thing is to actually use the stuff and not let it expire, otherwise you’re wasting money. Accomplish this by putting the older stuff in front so that you grab it first (and you also see it, which helps you remember to use it)

  3. says

    I like to stock food in order not to depend too much on the supermarket, and just have to shop for fresh produce and dairy. If I see a great offer I usually buy a few months worth of supply, more if it never goes bad.

  4. says

    While I do believe you can save a lot of money couponing, it’s not something I’ve considered getting into. I couldn’t imagine having cases of toilet paper or tons of tubes of toothpaste. I can see how it would be good for a large family, but considering we’re DINKS it would take us years to use 10 tubes of toothpaste and we also try to avoid canned foods as much as possible.

    • says

      “Extreme” stockpiling is not for everyone, but I do believe everyone should have a stockpile of some sort. Whether that be an extra pack of bathroom tissue, or an extra 10 packs of bathroom tissue.

  5. says

    We stockpile what we can buy buying staples and things we know we’ll use on a regular basis. We try to only do it when there’s a great price to be had. We use coupons quite a bit, but only on things we actually know we’ll use.

  6. says

    People I work with joke that my “I have no food” still means I have more than everyone in their house combined. It’s partially true, but there’s only so much frozen and canned food I can eat without feeling gross. We just got a larger storage locker in our building (it’s about 3x bigger), so it’s even easier to stock things like toilet paper now. :-)

  7. says

    We have a stockpile that has been keeping us going for 3 years now although we add to it here and there. We don’t so much stock food any longer as with only 2 of us we could not get through it before expiry. We donate alot of food as well to the food bank. Almost every time we are at the grocery store we are cart watching or watching what people pay full price for and shake our heads because we know better. Couponing is money in your pocket.. it’s cash back. Why would anyone want to pay full price for something when clearly the mfg wants you to save $$$. Great post. Mr.CBB

  8. says

    I’ve heard it stated somewhere that grocery stores run sales on most grocery items in 6 week intervals. When you see a good sale price on something that will last, stock up on at least 6 weeks worth. We do this and pretty much only pay sale prices for all of our groceries, except necessities like Milk, eggs, etc that would otherwise spoil if not used right away.

    • Bryan Irrera says

      There is one way to keep track of sales cycles (be they 6 week intervals or longer): make a sale diary in a notebook or in a spread sheet on your computer.

      Basically: for items that that you use frequently (whether it’s stuff you’re always going to need like toilet paper or a particular product that you are brand loyal to (in our house that’s usually coke vs. pepsi, oreo cookies, heinz ketchup, etc.)), make a note of when these products went on sale (and for how much) at your local grocery store(s). You may be able to discover the pattern relatively quickly (within a couple of months). Also, you might be able to avoid a sale that isn’t as good as other sales (sure, Coke may be buy 2 2-liter bottles get 1 free one week, but the next week it might be buy 1 get 1). If you have a number of chains in your area, you might discover that they alternate sales with each other (using soda as the example again, I’ve noticed that if one chain has the 2 liter bottles of Coke products on sale, the other chain might have the cans of Pepsi products on sale…).

  9. says

    We aren’t what anyone would call “extreme” couponers, but I suspect we’re much more extreme then most of our peers and friends. When I discovered how much money we could save with coupons and the drug store deals it changed my life (seriously). Well maybe not my life, but the way I think about money and spending and grocery shopping. Like you said in the post. I think everyone could benefit from having a stockpile. Even if that stockpile is having a few extras of each item that’s used regularly.

  10. says

    When Hurricane Sandy hit the electric was out for seven days or more for many people in the Northeast. Many of the roads were closed due to fallen trees and inoperable streets. Supply trucks did not move for days. The stores had no power to run freezers or refrigerators.

    The store shelves were empty for days! We had sufficient warning to stock up on non-perishable items, but supplies quickly ran out.

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