Building a Stockpile: Why? Who? Where? When? How?

Why do we need a stockpile? 

When you hear the word “stockpile” what kind of mental images does it bring to mind?  For some people it conveys thoughts of underground caverns preparing for an alien invasion or the end of the world (read too many sci-fi books???), for others it means building your own mini Sam’s Club in your house…. (Clearing store shelves anyone??!!??) But what I mean when I use the word “Stockpile” is more of a stash.  A collection of pantry/food/household items that will last you for the sales cycle in your area. (Remember, in the south we have a 6-8 week cycle and in the north you have a 9-12 week stretch.)

The real answer for WHY do we have a stockpile instead of just shopping every week for everything is…. it is KEY to saving money!  You thought the key was just in using coupons, but building a stockpile falls in line right behind.  Building your own stockpile is a major part of this lifestyle.  Buying MORE than enough of an item when it is at it’s lowest price is crucial to saving money, so that you don’t have to pay full price later on.

Example: Post cereal is BOGO this week and we have $1/1 MQ.  Apply 2 of those to the BOGO and the 2 boxes of cereal that were $4.29 are now $2.29.  A little over a dollar a box.  (Buying cereal at $1 a box or less is our goal.) Would you rather pay $1.14 a box this week and get a few extra OR pay $4.29 a box each and every week?

Another reason for the WHY do we stockpile is so that you will have the basics needed to feed your family for less money.  With a stockpile of various foods, I can randomly find a recipe and go to my pantry and find almost everything I need.  When I am hungry for homemade spaghetti (like this week!!), I know that I have FREE pasta in the pantry, frozen meatballs in the deep freeze, plenty of jarred sauce or even the ingredients to make my own on the shelf.  I even have frozen garlic toast.  So, purchasing various food items that your family will use when they are on their best sale in the cycle means you are not having to pay full price for needed items and if you have coupons  to apply, you are probably getting the items really cheap or even FREE.  (This also works the same for household, health, beauty items as well)

I enjoy entertaining, cooking and baking and prior to having my own stockpile, this often caused my shopping list to increase, thus the amount I spent increased greatly.  Now, because I purchase items when I find them on sale at their cheapest price and add them to my pantry (and NOT because I need them and have to pay full price), I am saving myself a lot of money but am still able to enjoy cooking and baking a variety of recipes with little to no increase in my normal spending.

Who needs to build a stockpile?

Pretty much every person who coupons.  Families, couples, singles….  Every home needs some sort of stockpile.  My aunt is single and coupons, so her stockpile is going to look different than the Framptons, who have a family of 7.  The size of family doesn’t matter.  The size of stockpile should look vastly different.  The amounts needed for each of those families for a period of 6-8 weeks is vastly different.

“But it’s just me.  I don’t have a family.  Why do I need to have a stockpile?”  Even if you are single, you still want to purchase items at their lowest price and buy enough to last you for that 8 weeks.  Once you get bitten by the super couponing bug, you will most likely begin sharing some of your excess.  You have to have excess first…

A major part of learning to be a SUPER Xtreme couponer is building a stockpile, or a stash, if you prefer to call it that.  Remember we are not clearing shelves, we do not have to chase every single deal and we don’t need a warehouse built anywhere for our personal stock!

(I chose the picture at the top because I think it is a great example of how our stockpiles should look.  I went and did a Swabuck search for some photos or clip art and the sheer volume in most of the stockpile pictures was amazing….  Amazingly nuts!  This one shows you 2 or 3 of some things, 6-8 of others…  Not a year’s worth of anything.)

Where Do I Stockpile?

Some of you are blessed to have a specific or dedicated pantry space of some sort, while others of us (Me included) have to figure out just how we are going to do this.  Quite often if you step back and ponder the spaces that you do have and what is actually stored in them, you can find some space. It is often filled with an assortment of “stuff”, like mine and needs purged first, then you can usually find new homes in other places for that junk stuff.

Because we are talking about finding space for a 6-8 week type of stockpile (mayyybe a bit more) you don’t need an entire room or half the garage.  (Your hubby will be grateful, I am sure!)  You need a few extra shelves here or there.  Or part of a shelf here, part of a drawer there, etc…  I have read of using under the bed plastic tubs when you live in a small, confined place (Such as an apartment or trailer).  I have also read of a Mom using 1 of her 2 bedroom closets as her pantry/stockpile, because then she could put a lock on the door and keep her tweens/teens out of the excess snacks.  Let me tell you what I have done…

  • I don’t have a dedicated pantry.  I don’t have a large home with a large kitchen.  I have a 3 bedroom “starter” home.  No excess room anywhere…  I had a tall, slender cabinet in my laundry room that was filled with…. junk stuff.  Not even sure just what all I previously thought had to reside in there, but as I began building my stockpile, I dumped out that cabinet, purged & found new homes for the remaining stuff.  I have things stocked in there like: salad dressings, salsa, pasta sauces, canned stuff, PB & J, -more of the heavy stuff.
  • We also had a water heater closet in the laundry room & the tall heater had previously been replaced with a short, fat one, leaving me the top half of the cabinet for storage.  I moved the items that were on the top shelf elsewhere and took over that too.  I store my pastas, hot cereals, snack foods in here.
  • One wall of my laundry room has cabinets across it (2 double cabinets with connecting shelves in the middle).  It USED to have pretty white pottery on the top, as you can see it from my dining table…  now it has a very colorful row of cereal boxes lined up across it! (But I’d rather have free to cheap cereal than the pottery collecting dust any day!)
  • My father-in-law is quite handy, so when he last visited, I had him build me a supported shelf up high on the laundry room wall.  It holds an assortment of Velveeta, juice, sauces, condiments, snacks, etc… I do use a deep sweater sized tub that contains all of my excess spices & seasonings.
  • My hallway closet contains the typical linens/towels, etc…  It also houses the game collection, the vacuum and the current packages of paper towels, napkins & toilet paper we are using.  Then, if you look to the side of one shelf, there is a row of tissue boxes.  Look behind the other shelf of linens and you will find the stash of hand soap.  The bottom shelf has toilet paper, beauty tools (hot rollers, various straighteners & curling irons, etc..) and lined up nice & neat along one side are the feminine products.
  • Our bathroom cabinets (under the sink) was just a large space with no shelving, so hubs added a wooden shelf under each of them.  It was quite easy to do. (He cut out a U shape in the middle to accommodate the pipes.) This extra shelf allows me to line up our bathroom stockpile in each of our bathrooms.  I have plenty of space now for those items. (Because I have the space now, I keep a larger supply of this stuff than 8 weeks.)
  • Previously tho, you would have found that bathroom/beauty type stuff in my bedroom…  I have a long, 9 drawer dresser and almost every drawer had stuff in it…  Open his sock drawer and there would have been a row of deodorant.  Open the underwear drawer and there was a row of toothpastes.  The PJ drawer had a row of face soap, etc…  About every drawer & shelf got adjusted and a row of something was housed in there along with the clothes/linens/etc…
  • My cleaning supplies and paper products are stored in the garage.  One wall of our garage is lined with metal shelves.  1 of them has always been mine for excess household items.  It is now part household stuff and part stockpile.  The only other thing I keep out in the garage is my stash of soda/gatorade/etc…

I am telling you how I used to do it and how I currently do it because even when you think you have no room, you can find space here and there.  Think about shuffling items around, condensing them, pushing them closer together to allow for a row of something to line up next to it.  And definitely think of purging first…  🙂  (I know, that is a whole other topic!)

When Do I Stockpile?

I think that learning when to stock up on various items all has to do with understanding the Sales Cycle in your area.  Here in the south, our sales cycles run in a 6-8 week rotation.  (If you want to verify that for yourself, collect your Publix ads for about 12 weeks, you will see the same types of sales you saw in week 1, come back around again in week 7-9.)  And remember that each item will go “on sale” several times in that cycle, but at least once it will hit it’s “rock bottom” low-low price.  When it is at it’s “rock bottom” price is when you want to act.  (If you are in the north, your sales cycle runs more on a 9-12 week pattern.)

I could buy one box of cereal for six weeks and pay whatever the going rate was, approximately $3.59-$4.19. That averages out to be about $23. OR I can buy several at one time for about $0.50-$1.00 a box and spend MUCH less. Over six week’s time, I’ve saved $19. Another tidbit to remember is that you don’t eat just one type of cereal, so you don’t have to buy all 12 or 20 that your family will need in one sales week.  You will have various sales and coupons to utilize.

Here is a current example for you:  Publix has the new Dulche de Leche Multigrain Cheerios on sale this week for $2.50 a box. I had $1.75/2 MQ and had found a booklet with Publix Q’s for $1 off Original Cheerios or Multigrain. Cha Ching!  The new Dulche de Leche are Multigrain! So, I had two .75 cents off 1 box Dulche de Leche and I had two $1.75/2 General Mills -all printables.  I bought 6 boxes and used 6 Publix $1 Q’s (PQ), used  two .75/1 manufacturer (MQ) and two $1.75/2 (MQ).  That meant I spent $4 for 6 boxes of cereal that are regularly priced at $3.59 ($21.54 regular price), a savings of $17.54.  Sounds good, right?

HOW do I stockpile?

How do I take all of this information and apply it to my shopping list and my life.  I hope I can answer those questions for you today.

A couple of things to start with – are your coupons organized? Then, remember that you are going to pay attention to the sales cycle.  You should also start your own Stock Up Price List. Moneysavingmom has one to download and personalize.  Forthemommas also has one to utilize.  She lists her Buy price, her Stock up price and leaves a column for you to personalize.  I suggest using a pencil on your Price List, so you can easily change the #’s as you find them at lower or higher prices.  This is going to be an easy way for you to be able to check prices in your own area.  It doesn’t matter if Krazy Coupon Lady in CA says it is a stock up deal- if you live in FL and our prices are completely different.  It doesn’t matter if I say that “this” is a great deal (here in FL), but you live in OH.  Starting your own Stock Up or Buy Price List is going to help out a lot!  Monitoring the sales cycle and keeping a price list will help you figure out when to stockpile a product.  I Heart Publix helps us with this  by placing a green check mark next to things in her match ups that she feels are great prices.  Southern Savers  places an acorn by the great deals.  Watch for those!

So, if I am are purchasing enough for our personal “Stash” or stockpile to last MY family 6-8 weeks then do I need to buy 15 toothpastes this week?????  Uhmmm… NO!  I have 2 adults and a preschooler. Definitely don’t need that much!  Only you can decide just how much of any given item that your family needs.  If it takes you a month to get thru a tube of toothpaste, then you’ll want to keep 2-4 in your stash.  If your family eats 2 boxes of cereal weekly, you will want to collect 12-16 boxes.  The nice thing about adding cereal to  your stockpile, is that you don’t have to purchase all 12-16 in one shop.  Different brands of cereal and different flavors of cereal go on sale every week and we have various coupons to use. (Those #’s listed above are based on a southern sales cycle)

Your beginning stockpile is going to look off balance or even weird, as you are not buying every thing at one time.  You are getting several of this item, then several of that… Eventually it rounds itself out and you will feel like you have a more balanced stock.  The key is to stock up when items are at their lowest price. Done consistently, week after week, you will soon have a well-stocked and pleasantly varied pantry to choose from.

 Example: In Week 1, Post cereal was BOGO and we had $1/1 MQ.  Apply 2 of those to the BOGO and the 2 boxes of cereal that were $4.29 are now $2.29.  A little over a dollar a box.  Maybe you had 4 of those coupons and could get 4 boxes at $1.14 a box.  Last week Dulche de Leche was on sale for $2.50 and we had .75/1 MQ & $1.75/2 MQ (printables) AND Publix $1 Q’s to stack and we get another 6 boxes for $4.  We are now up to 10 boxes of cereal and this continues working just this way.  Cereal is one of those things in my house that ebb & flow.  I only buy it when there are good deals making it anywhere from free to $1 a box.  So sometimes we have 25 boxes in our pantry and then other times there haven’t been as good of coupons/sales and I only have 5 or 6 left.

(This is not my cereal stash.  Just a picture I found online.  But it shows a varied selection of choices.)

There are 2 different types of shopping:  Need based shopping and stockpile shopping.  Need based are the things you have to buy all the time: milk, produce, etc… Stockpile shopping is buying things at their lowest price that you may not “need” this week and buying more than you need in order to not pay full price in the future.  Your goal is to be able to shop from your stockpile, rather than running out to the store every time you need something. (My 3 year old helps set the table for dinner & when we run out of napkins in the kitchen I tell her to go “shopping” in the hallway closet for more.)  As your stockpile grows, you will find that your list of “needed” items goes down each week, resulting in lower and lower grocery bills.  Spending less and less is what we are after, right??