Learn how to stockpile food on a budget! Stockpiling allows us to have a $200/mo. grocery budget and can save you money too! These tips will help you get started with your own stockpile.
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So, you’re convinced that stockpiling saves money, but now you want to know how to get that stockpile started in the first place, especially if your grocery budget is already so tight you can barely eek by. Well this, my friends, is the million dollar question!
I actually started building my grocery stockpile 6 years ago soon after I first discovered the wonderful world of saving money by couponing. Since it’s been so long ago, my memory is a bit faulty as to just how things went when I first got started. (Can I get by with blaming the poor memory on having 4 children in 6 years?) However, I do know that our grocery budget didn’t have much wiggle room in it at the time and I remember that initially, the savings from stockpiling were quite small.
But based on what I remember and what has worked for friends, here’s what I’d recommend doing if you are wanting to start building a grocery stockpile.
How to Stockpile Food on a Budget
Start Slow & Small
The temptation is to dive in head first and start buying lots of stuff to get your stockpile started. But, especially if your budget is tight already, it’s best to start by setting aside just $5 to $10 a week to buy things for your stockpile. Then, be sure to make that $5 to $10 count and use it to buy only things that are really good prices that you also are sure you’ll definitely use. If you don’t see anything that fits the bill that week, then just skip it and save the money to buy extra the next week.
Initially, you likely won’t see much savings at all. But the beauty of stockpiling is that as you continue to slowly do it, you’ll start creating more and more wiggle room in your budget and after several months time, the savings start to really show!
Monica, one of my long time readers, started building a stockpile and had this to say:
My first month only saved me around $50 from our usual grocery bill and I was ready to throw in the towel. What I didn’t understand was that the stockpiling method requires time for a savings snowball effect to take place. Here’s why. Stockpiling saves you money because it enables you to buy items at rock bottom prices and stock up on them. As a result, this saves you from having to pay full price for the item the next time you need it. In turn, this gradually saves you money and as you continue to build your stockpile you’ll find that eventually you rarely have to pay full price for anything because you were able to get it when it was on sale and add it to your stockpile. And so while the initial savings is gradual, as you continue to stockpile, the savings grow considerably. And so I kept at it, and my second month the savings increased to $200-250!
Be Prepared to Invest Some Time
If you don’t mind minimal savings, building a grocery stockpile doesn’t have to take a lot of extra time- you can simply just watch for good deals as you do your regular grocery shopping. But, by doing only that, you won’t save nearly as much as you would if you invest a bit of extra time into researching and planning your trips. I’ll cover the specifics in a future post, but here are a few of the basics.
- Scan the store’s sales flyer before you go and look for any rock bottom sale prices.
- Visit a deal blog and see if there are any coupons that you can match-up with the things you want to purchase.
(To find a deal blog that covers the stores you shop at, Google something like the store name and “coupon match ups”. You should be able to find a blog that will show you what is on sale at the store you shop plus also show you what coupons you can use to get an even better deal! This makes deal shopping super easy and less time-consuming.)
- Consider shopping at more than one store so that you can get the best deals from each one.
In addition, I love using money saving apps save on groceries and household supplies. Many times they even offer savings on any brand of product such as milk, bread, fruit, diapers and more! Here are my favorites:
- Checkout 51
- Fetch Rewards (use referral code GE0EG to get 2,000 free points!)
– This one is the absolute easiest to use…you just scan your receipt and that’s it. I’ve only used it for a couple of weeks and I already have earned $9 in Amazon gift cards!
Designate a Spot for Storing Your Stockpile
Obviously, if you are going to have extra groceries in your house, you are going to need somewhere to put them all! Figure out ahead of time where you will put your stockpile. If you live in a small house it might be easy to get discouraged and think you have no extra room, but most of the time, if you get creative you can come up with something. It may mean putting the extra groceries under the bed or clearing some shelves of things you don’t use to make extra space.
I’m blessed with a kitchen that has lots of cupboards, which has helped me out immensely when it comes to extra storage. However, we have very little storage space otherwise so it can still be a challenge. A couple of years ago, my husband got the great idea to build a long narrow shelf above the freezer in our basement to put our stockpile on. It made such a big difference in how well I was able to stay organized with my stockpile! Between the kitchen, the basement shelf and a couple of boxes in our basement to store our diaper stockpile, we’ve finally figured out a system that works well for us most of the time.
Know When to Stop
I love stockpiling and am convinced it’s one of the absolute best and easiest ways to save money on groceries. But I also think it’s important to know when to stop buying stuff and when to say no to a deal.
This is going to look different for everyone because every family’s needs and budgets are different. But here are the things I consider when deciding if I should buy an item for my stockpile:
- Is it free? If so, then I almost always will buy it because even if I don’t use it, I will most likely be able to donate to someone who can.
- Do I have money in our budget to buy it?
- Do I have space to store it?
- Will I be able to use it before it spoils? I’ve learned to not let expiration dates totally determine how much I purchase because for many foods, you can extend the shelf life of by freezing them.
- Is it something I regularly use? If it is, then I try to buy enough to last me until I estimate the next sale will be. (Sales typically run on a cycle of anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks.) If it’s an item that I am getting cheap with coupons, then I’ll buy as many as I have coupons for.
- If it’s not something I regularly use, can I find a use for it anyway? Often I’ll take advantage of an awesome deal on something I might not typically purchase just because it will still save us money in the long run. For instance, several months ago I got about 20 Uncle Ben’s rice in microwaveable pouches for about $0.10 each. I never buy rice that way, but I knew it was cheaper than buying it by the bag. Plus, it was a food that I could easily plan my menu around to feed us inexpensively. So to me it made perfect sense and we just enjoyed lost of rice dishes over the next several weeks!
Do you have a grocery stockpile? What tips do you have for building it?
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How many of each product would you suggest buying for a stockpile in a house of 4? 3 kids 1 adult.
That’s kind of a tricky question because I don’t know that there is a set answer. If it’s something that we use quite frequently and it will be good for quite a while or I can freeze it, I often will buy 3-4. But what works for you will really depend on what kind of room you have in your budget, how often you use the food/product and the expiration date/shelf life of the item. If you are uncertain, just buy one or two extra. As you do this more, you will start to get a feel for what works well for you and your family.
Coupons are a double edged sword imo. I mean, if it’s something like Prego spaghetti sauce, then sure, I can use it…and my local store usually has them on sale for 1.50 a jar around Oct or Nov (one year they had them for a dollar a jar… I must have bought 50 jars… but when we moved, our house was broken into, and one of the things they stole, oddly enough, was my spaghetti sauce!) Otherwise, a lot of things I can buy generic or in bulk for MUCH cheaper than even with a coupon. I do need to get in the habit of going to the farmer’s markets during the summer…heck, even now. I always forget or get busy. I also need to find a way to keep the lemons our trees are producing. I was thinking of juicing them and freezing the juice. The next house I definitely want more room for trees.
Thanks for your input, Sarah! And you are right that coupons can easily be used in ways that actually have you spending more or buying things you don’t need. The way I condone using coupons though is to only use them if the item you buy is something you need or will definitely use AND by using a coupon for it you can get it cheaper than you can the generic equivalent. I also know that what stores you shop at makes a big difference. I’m blessed to have Giant grocery stores in my area and regularly get lots of food and household items there super inexpensively (sometimes even free!) with coupons…and the majority of the food that I purchase with coupons is not processed foods either, which usually surprises people. This particular stores doubles coupons too, which helps a lot! But really, as much as I recommend using coupons, I realize too that everyone’s priorities and preferences are different and so for some, it simply works better to just buy generic all the time etc.
Jealous of those lemon trees! 🙂 Fresh lemons are so yummy. And yes, I would definitely think that freezing the juice would be a good option. Now I’m thirsty for fresh squeeze lemonade!
My cousin has a really nice meyer lemon tree, and they juice the lemons, put it in ice cube trays, then store the cubes in freezer bags. Whenever they need lemon juice for a recipe, they just pull out as many cubes as they need. They also just put a cube or two straight into a glass of ice tea. It works out great!
That’s such a great idea!
Thanks for the great tips here. Since I have gone back to work I have become much more of a “week to week” shopper.
Visiting via Inspire Me Mondays!
Great tips here! Thanks for sharing!!! Glad I found this post!
I have to give this a try with these great tips! I would love for you to share this over at my new link party Making Memories Mondays going on now!