Save by Stockpiling Food and Household Items


I mentioned last week in my Coupon Clipping Tips and Techniques blog that I am replenishing our stockpile after a summer of living off of it.  Some of you have asked about how I do this. So here’s a blog specifically about stockpiling food and household items. (You can also check out my Time to Stockpile blog.)

Stockpiling food and household items serves many purposes:

  • Convenience.  You always have on hand the essentials and are never making unplanned runs to the store.
  •  Emergencies.  As much as we don’t like to think about natural disasters or homeland threats, we learned a lot after 9/11 and the various earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and forest fires our world has endured.  Having some food and water stored up is important for safety and survival.
  • Economically wise.  Stocking up when prices are low helps reduce your monthly budget.

To start your stockpile, first take a look at the space you have available in your home.  Then write out a list of items that are non-perishable and that you use on a regular basis.  Looking at your list of items, how much can you fit in your available space?

Once you have your space determined, then keep your list handy as you look at the weekly sales ads.  Is there anything on sale this week worthy of stockpiling?  If so, check to see if you can lower the price even more by matching up a coupon to the sale.  Let’s say peanut butter is regularly $2.69 a jar.  It’s on sale for $1.50 and I have coupons for $.75 off.  So, I’m paying $.75 a jar…that is definitely worthy of adding to the stockpile!

Knowing the shelf life of peanut butter, how much space I have, and how fast my family goes through it, I would plan on purchasing 10-12 jars.  That normally would last us 9-12 weeks and since sales are on a 6-12 week cycle, this would be an appropriate amount to get us through to the next sale.

In this scenario, I’ve spent $9.00 for 12 jars of peanut butter.  Some people would think I’m totally wacky. But look at this:  I would normally buy 12 jars over the course of 3 months anyway.  If I bought one each week at full price I would spend $32.28. Instead, I’ve spend just $9.00 PLUS I’ve saved the time and gas of having to run to the store in order to finish my batch of peanut butter cookies!  Okay, now tell me who is wacky?

When you start stockpiling, it’s best to start slowly.  Stocking up isn’t about going out this week and buying everything you need at full price.  It may take you months to get your stockpile operational.  When I started, I based it all on what was either free or super cheap that week at the drugstores.  So, I started with things like toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, deodorant, lotion, shampoo and tissues.

Then I moved into building up a reserve of pasta, beans, tortillas, peanut butter, granola bars, spices and olive oil.  It really wasn’t until late this spring that I had most of what I use daily stocked up. And honestly, I’m still missing a stash of Parmesan Cheese — simply because I’m waiting for a rock bottom price. We can survive without it for now (despite what my sons say when we have spaghetti).

Ready to start stockpiling? Here are a few important tips to help you get started.

1)  Stock up on things you use.  Don’t stock up on items you’ve never tried or your family doesn’t like.

2)  Be sure to establish a timely rotation of your items so you are using the oldest first.

3)  Start slow.  Stocking up on one item a week is a great start.  This method won’t impact your budget too greatly.

4)  Think of ways to preserve items on sale such as fresh fruit, bread, vegetables.  Many things can be frozen which extends their live and your budget.

5)  Train family members to write needed items on a list when they take the second to last one off the shelf!  (Let me know if you succeed at this one…I haven’t yet!)

6)  Don’t think of stocking up as a “once and done” project.  It is ongoing and needs attention and organization.

7)  Do NOT let your stockpile dominate your life.  This is NOT hoarding so please don’t become consumed by stocking up or let your stockpiles spill into your living spaces.  If you spend more time stockpiling than you do with your family, or if you have to move 75 boxes of cereal to get a clean towel out of your linen closet, you’re going overboard.

Be aware that when you start stockpiling, your budget won’t see a huge impact right away. However,  you will eventually see a reduction.  When you look at your weekly grocery list and the grocery/drug store sales, decide which items you want to stock up on. Then determine if there is something on your list you don’t need this week.

Take the money you would have spent on that item and use it to stock up on another.  The following week take the money you saved by stocking up and roll that into another item worthy of stockpiling.  See, how it works?  This way you don’t have to increase your budget in order to start your stockpile.

My last stockpiling tip is to continually rotate your items.  If you bought 6 months worth of cereal and after 4 months of the same bowl of cereal your kids suddenly boycott it, you need to: a) get creative on ways of using cereal (cookies, perhaps?) or b) donate the rest.

Your space is valuable so don’t waste it on things your family won’t use or eat.  When you donate it, you can feel good about it. (It might be tax deductible, too. Check with your accountant.)

I spent this week assessing what gaps I need to replenish our stockpile.  Based on the sales this week, I will be stocking up on the following:

Albertson’s:  Regional peaches for $.88/lb (I’ll can a few quarts of these.)

Walgreens: ReNu Saline Solution $6.99 ($5.00 RR matched with a $2 off coupon = Free!)

Puffs Tissues $.99 (matched with $.25 off/3 coupon=$2.72 for 3)

The next few weeks I’ll continue to replenish what we depleted this summer. Then I’ll turn my focus to the continual management of our lifeline to nourishment and smart economics!  Oh, and if you come across a stock-up worthy sale of Parmesan cheese, please let me know.

Enjoy this blog?  You might also like Erin’s previous posts on Blessing Bags of Love for Missoula’s Homeless,  Back to School Budget Meal Planning, or  Back to School Shopping on a Budget.   AND, be sure to check out the “Missoula Save it Club”  on the home page of (See the Daily Missoula Fix buttons in the left navigation bar) for savings updates throughout the week!

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian.  Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques and trying to maintain a well-run, happy and organized home for her family.