By Elizabeth Scholes
If you came to my house today, you would find 20+ lbs of various meats, 5 bags of sugar, 6 lbs of butter, numerous canned goods, 5 tubes of toothpaste, and on and on. No, I am not fearful of the world ending or waiting for a big storm to come. I am saving hundreds of dollars by stockpiling!
So far we have talked about coupons and matching up great deals, but take that one step further and you have stockpiling. In my opinion stockpiling is where you see the biggest cut in your grocery budget. Before we talk about how to create a stockpile, let’s look at some of the reasons why it is beneficial.
- You will already have food on hand for meals or for meals that only require minimal ingredients to buy during your weekly shopping trip.
- Because you have ingredients for meals on hand, you will eat out far less which saves lots of money, not to mention helping family structure and your waistline.
- You won’t have to run to the store because you ran out of _______ and spend full price for it.
- You can be far more prepared with spontaneous guests, parties or charitable giving.
Creating a stockpile is simple. Watch for your regularly used items to go on sale at their rock bottom prices and buy enough to last your family for 3-4 months. The reason for that length of time is because that is the length of most sale cycles at grocery stores, meaning that item will most likely not be that low price again for 3-4 months. Just last week I bought 6 jars of Peter Pan peanut butter for $.99 which will last our family about 5 months. My savings was $1.80 per jar! When you do this little by little you will create a wonderful stockpile that has cost you far less than buying here and there. It also makes your weekly shopping trip much less because you have so much on hand. Some weeks I buy only the basic necessities like bread, produce and milk because that is truly all we need. Other weeks I need more odds and ends to make complete meals and/or there are lots of great deals to stock up on.
Keep in mind that while you are creating your base stockpile you probably will not see your budget drop. It took me 4-5 months before I started consistently saving enough to meet my budget goals, but in 2 1/2 years time we have gone from $400 monthly spending to $280. Always keep track of your spending so you know when it might be time to challenge yourself to spend less.
As a rule, only buy what your budget and space allow. You do not want to spend your entire weekly budget on chicken breast and sugar and not have enough left to buy milk and bread for your family. You also do not want to buy 10 boxes of cereal if you don’t have anywhere to store them.
So where do you store all this extra stuff? It’s usually fairly easy to find space, even in smaller homes. A few empty shelves in the basement or garage, unused shelves in a linen closet or child’s closet and under the bed storage boxes are all good ideas. We keep our stockpile in the basement storage room on some extra shelving. The key is keeping it organized so you can easily take inventory and actually use what you have.
Also do not underestimate what can go in the freezer. We have an extra refrigerator in our basement that we use but an extra freezer is not necessary for stocking up. However, if you have a large family or want to stock up on lots of meat and freezer goods, the savings far outweigh the cost of a freezer and the electricity it uses. When you buy meat in large family packs, go ahead and separate the meat into 1 lb ziploc bags. Better yet, cook it first and then you won’t have to wait for it to defrost and cook before using. Smoosh freezer items down flat so you can stack the bags or stand them up like books on a bookshelf. With proper stacking and good containers, you can fit a lot in a freezer and a full freezer uses less energy than an empty one.
Some things that freeze well:
- Shredded or block cheese (defrost in fridge, NOT microwave)
- Certain in-season produce (I like to wash, spread flat on cookie sheets to freeze and then transfer to ziploc bags)
- Eggs (beat whites and yolks together and pour into ice cube trays, 1 large egg = 2 cubes)
- Breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles (defrosts quickly for an easy, fast breakfast)
- Milk (pour a little off the top to allow for expansion. Thaw in fridge and swirl gently before drinking)
- Freezer jams
This week’s challenge:
- Look for spaces in your home that could be used for your stockpile.
- Go through your freezer and pantry to organize and weed out things that have been there too long.
- Look through the weekly ads and see if there is anything you can buy more of to start stockpiling.