Remember that TV show, Extreme Couponers? They had a van pulling a trailer going to the store to pick up 200 bottles of laundry detergent and 150 tubes of toothpastes? Yeah, that’s not me. I love to coupon and save money (honestly, who doesn’t love to save money?), but I have learned to strike a balance and keep my sanity while building my grocery stockpile.
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Why Build a Grocery Stockpile?
Everybody is going to have their own personal reasons for building a grocery stockpile. And when I say “grocery stockpile”, I include all paper and personal products as well as actual food. I build a stockpile for my family to save money and time. I do not want to spend a ton of money on groceries every week. The line item in a personal budget that probably fluctuates the most is grocery expenses and there are many ways to cut that budget amount (link). Having a little stockpile on the items your family loves and uses the most will prevent the time you run out of something and have to pay a much higher price at the local corner store because you need it right now. I love getting deals, it is almost like a high, more about that later…
How I Build my Stockpile
First, I keep a basic list of what I have on hand in my pantry and freezer. I use the app Pantrify on my phone. You can also use the food inventory list that is included in my Meal Plan Printable Worksheet Bundle. Check out my blog post on meal planning or sign up above for the bundle.
I also keep a list of what I need to stock up on. The sales are cyclical and after a while, you know that a certain store is going to have a can-can sale once or twice a year and you can stock up on specific items during that sale. You will figure out that certain items are on sale almost every month or every other month.
Sunday Sales Ads
I grab a paper Sunday morning and start going through the ads. I circle what I want to look into. I check my coupons and if it is a really good deal, I might even check into a coupon fairy. A really good deal to me is free or under a $1 for many items.
This is where it can get tricky for some people. “Did you see that? Toothpaste is free this week, I am going to order 50 coupons and get 50 tubes for free!!!” No, toothpaste is almost always on sale someplace at least once a month. Get a few for free from the coupons you gather from friends and family.
Stop the insanity before you start
This is where people start losing their sanity. Free groceries can be a high for some people. Deal hunting can be contagious. Scouring websites for the best deals can be very time consuming. I know, I am a recovering deal seeker. I used to drag my kids along to the grocery stores (well, I still do, but now for the muscle) to get 50 boxes of popsicles for free or 30 packages of marinade for a quarter each. I soon realized that 5 would be perfect for us. A lot of that food went to waste when my kids were younger. We just didn’t need that much and I often went over budget getting the deals.
You have to know the balance for you. How much is your time worth? Should you be reading every website out there to find every deal? I have one website I check a few times a week. I keep a small notepad on my desk for upcoming deals so if it is really good I can look in advance for a few extra coupons. I usually shop on the weekends. If something is sold out by the time I get there, if I happen to go by another store during the week, I will look for the deal. I do not waste my time or gas going from store to store to get all the deals. I plan my route on the weekends and I stick to that plan. If I happen to be going by a different store during the week because a child has an appointment near it, I might check my favorite website to see if there is anything worth stopping for (meaning free for me). If not, I don’t go scouring the clearance aisle and matching up my coupons. It just is not worth my time.
Stick to your Budget
You know what your grocery budget is per week. Stick to it! The deals will be there next month. Shampoo and conditioner is always on sale with a coupon. You do not need 30 boxes of cereal, even it is free. Meal plan, buy your staples first. Then, and only then, if you have money left over, do a few deals. Rite Aid is my favorite for matching sales with coupons and rolling their new bonus cash. But I do not go crazy. I stick to my budget every week. Here are a few more tips on how to trim that grocery budget.
Build your Stockpile
Your stockpile will start to grow slowly. You will know the deals and your favorites. If you like one brand of toothpaste over another and you know how many you use a month, then when it is a good deal, stock up until the next time it goes on sale. Your family has their favorite brands and flavors. Don’t give up quality for quantity. There are so many coupons out there for junk food. I do not stock up on junk food (well, we do have a few boxes of Hamburger Helper for times I do not want to cook from scratch). Canned goods, sauce, tomatoes, pasta, noodles, rice, frozen ravioli, turkey burger, chicken breasts, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, laundry detergent, hair products, personal hygiene items, those are the bulk of what my stockpile consists of. You need to build your stockpile around what your family actually uses.
Some people take over the garage and have custom built shelving installed to show their wares. Me, I store it in my family room for now. I am saving a little out of my grocery budget this week for an extra set of shelves to get some of it organized a little better. I do not, and will not, have 500 bottles of detergent or 100 bottles of shampoo.
I just might be guilty of walking by that stockpile once in a while and smiling to myself, knowing I am being responsible with the money that we have in our grocery budget.
Once your stockpile is going strong, you can keep your eye out for what you need to replenish that grocery stockpile and sometimes you will be able to wait and get those items for close to free.
Hey, if you want to get those 30 boxes of cereal and donate them to your local food pantry, that is wonderful. Around back to school time, there are usually great deals for school supplies, donate to your local schools and kids’ teachers. They will be ever so thankful!
The bottom line is don’t go crazy. You have to find the balance that only you know. How much time, effort and money do you want to spend on building your grocery stockpile?