Cutting Your Grocery Budget in 1/2: Part 3 (Stockpiling 101)

We’ve been talking the last few weeks about how to cut your grocery budget in half.  Overall, the first thing I believe you must do is set a budget.  Your next step is to make a menu plan utilizing your store ads and stockpile.  This week, let’s take a look at how to build your stockpile.

What is stockpiling?

Before you start imagining me as a crazy lady with a basement stocked full of items that could last for years and years, let me assure you I am not that person!!  There is a difference between stockpiling and hoarding!!

There are different definitions of stockpiling depending on the context, but for the purpose of saving money on groceries, stockpiling is simply building a supply of items you’ve purchased at the lowest price possible! 

If you are unfamiliar with the idea of stockpiling, this may seem a little vague.  You may be wondering, “What does this really mean?  How do I begin?

Here are a few simple tips to get started:

1)  Make a price book.

Get a notebook and make a list of the top 10 items you use most.  Do this in several categories:  personal, household, grocery, etc.  Starting this week, track the prices of the items you typically buy (I know this is a pain, but if you’re not used to looking for the cheapest price, you’ll need to have a reference)!  Do this for about 10-12 weeks.  You should begin to see how the sales cycles work for the products you buy most.  (For a helpful reference, check out this post from Mandie at I Heart Coupon Deals!)

What you’re looking for is the absolute cheapest price on the products you buy most.  Once you’ve discovered this, you’ll combine that sale price with any coupons you have to get the rock bottom price!  After you’ve done this for a while, you will have a pretty good idea what the best price is for the products you buy!  

2)  Buy multiples at rock bottom price.

Let’s say you can buy chicken breast for $1.39 per pound (this just happened a few weeks ago at our local grocery store).  You should be thinking, “How much do I need to buy to last for 6-8 weeks (or 8-12 weeks or six months — depending on the product)?”  Then, you stock up!  Instead of running out to buy a package of chicken breasts the next week for $2.39 lb (or more!), you’ll simply pull out one of the packages you bought previously and save yourself some $$ in the process!  Do this with multiple items and you’ll begin to see the savings!

3)  Menu plan and “shop” from your stockpile.

I talked a little bit about this over in my post on menu-planning.  Once you have extra items from stockpiling, you can begin to look through your pantry and freezer to make your menu.  When you do this, you’ll free up more of your grocery budget for more stockpiling.

People have asked me how much of my budget I use for stockpiling.  The answer?  I really don’t know for sure, but quite a bit of my shopping is stockpiling!  I buy my fresh fruit and veggies and milk — and the rest usually comes from my stockpile.  So, when I plan my next grocery trip, I’m looking to see what new items I can add to my stockpile. 

Does this make sense?!!

4)  Stockpile.  Just.  Enough.

You don’t need years and years worth of products! 

First, you need to take a look at expiration dates.  It’s not worth buying something if you really aren’t going to use it before it expires!  If there is a freebie you just can’t turn down (even though you’re not sure you’ll use it), consider giving it away to friends or donating to a food pantry. 

You also need to make sure you rotate your supply, so the oldest products are in front.  This will help eliminate the need to throw things away.

When I find rock bottom prices, I aim to buy a six month supply on personal and household items – deodorant, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.  Canned goods and non-perishable food items are closer to a three month supply.   The items I freeze (meat, cheese, vegetables, bread), I aim for about 2-3 months.  I am fortunate because now I have a small chest freezer (but even when I didn’t, I still stockpiled meat)!

5)  Store your supply creatively.

I know not everyone has the same amount of space:  however,  I think you can find ways to store your stockpile…even if you have to get a little creative!!  Plastic bins under the bed or furniture is an option.  A dedicated shelf in a closet, or maybe even a shelf you add in your laundry area could be an idea.  If you have a small space, you may have to think outside of the box a little!

You may not see the savings overnight, but I’m convinced — if you stockpile various products while sticking with your budget and menu-planning, you’ll begin to see a difference!!

What are your stockpiling tips?!!


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