Stockpiling could save your grocery budget

Knowing When and How to Stockpile Groceries

by Shaunna Privratsky


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"We love making it easy for customers to stock up. That's why we run sales like 10 for $10 or Buy one, get one free," said the manager at Sunmart Foods in North Dakota.

So you are using coupons, learning how to price match, and focusing on needs versus wants. Yet you still feel like you could be saving more money. Another tool in the bargain-hunters toolbox is stockpiling. The idea is to stock up on items when they are on sale. Yet it is not quite as easy as it sounds. Here are some tips to streamline stockpiling.

  1. Start by identifying the groceries and household products that your family uses most frequently. You could keep a price book, jotting down the various prices each time you go to the store. Or you could save all your receipts for at least a month and compare the prices.

  2. Another key fact to know is that most supermarkets are on a 12-week cycle. This means that every 12 weeks an item will have a high price point and a low price point. Your mission is to snag that item at its lowest price.

  3. Once an item is on sale, how many do you buy? It depends on how fast your family uses the product. For example, we go through a bottle of ketchup a month. So I usually buy three to six bottles, depending on how good the sale is. I know that another sale will most likely come along in the next three months.

  4. A common mistake in stocking up is overdoing it. The popularity of the extreme couponing shows may lead people to think it is good to have 36 cases of kidney beans or 100 cans of tuna. Only buy what you think you'll use before the item expires.

  5. It is also a great idea to make sure your family likes the item. I once bought way too much macaroni and cheese in an unfamiliar store brand. No one liked the taste, so I ended up using just the noodles. In fact, there still might be a box or two somewhere around here.

  6. Stores often place limits on items that are a great bargain, so how can you stock up? You could make multiple trips, or you could price match at another store.

  7. You are getting the hang of stockpiling, but where do you put it all? Storage is another big consideration. A stand-alone freezer will pay for itself many times over. Look for good used ones for a fraction of the price.

  8. When the traditional storage spaces are filled, get creative. For my extra canned goods, I made a shelf behind a seldom-used door. There was six inches of space, so I used 2x4s to create a tall, thin unit with eight shelves. I attached it to the wall to avoid any danger of tipping. When the door is open, it completely hides the shelf.

  9. Under bed storage is a gold mine of space! If you don't have much clearance, add sturdy bed risers, usually for less than $10 at discount stores. Flat containers or even old drawers make great holders. You can even add small wheels to make it even handier for about $2.49 at hardware stores. A sheet hanging down or a bed skirt keeps everything hidden and neat.

  10. Closets often have wasted space near the ceiling, so adding a shelf about a foot down can double your storage. Just measure, cut the shelf, and add brackets or small pieces of wood to attach it. Another quick fix is adding two square bricks and the shelf.

  11. Always look for storage capabilities when buying or replacing furniture. Choose an ottoman with a lid rather than a stool. Go for a six-shelf bookcase instead of the three-shelf. It uses the same floor space, but offers double the room. Pick television and entertainment units that have doors, shelves or other extra storage. Stacking furniture, nesting tables, built-ins and wall shelves are other ways to expand your space.

  12. Don't forget to use your items! Sometimes we get so caught up in stockpiling that we don't use what we have. Take at least one day a month to go through your pantry and other storage and make meals from what you already have.

  13. You also need to rotate items to make sure they don't expire before you can use them. The easiest way to do this is when you unload the groceries. Keep like items together and put the newest in the back.

  14. When someone takes the last item from your pantry, he/she should write it on the list. Then you have a little time to watch for a really good sale.

Stockpiling is a great way to cash in on bargains. Learn how to spot the lowest prices and pounce. Soon you'll have a stash set up so that you never have to pay outrageous prices again. Here's to savvy stockpiling!


Shaunna Privratsky is an expert in personal finance. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

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