Smart Grocery Stockpiling

You’ve probably heard of stockpiling grocery and toiletry items, and you might even have seen those television shows where people have gone crazy with rooms full of supplies and toilet paper stored under the bed.  However, stockpiling doesn’t have to be extreme or ridiculous.  There are plenty of ways to start and maintain a smart grocery stockpile.

First, you need a little bit of information:  what your family eats, how much it eats, what the product usually costs, and how long it will stay good in your freezer, refrigerator or pantry.  Once you know these things, you can keep an eye on prices so you can identify a good price.  Most grocery store prices run in cycles around six to eight weeks long, though some items are longer and some items have their positively best prices only one time per year.

Once you are armed with this information, you are ready to act when the price is right.  When a product is at a good price, purchase enough to last until the next sales cycle comes around.

For example, I know that my family eats approximately one jar of pasta sauce every week.  We have a preferred brand and flavor, so I’m not shopping around for different varieties each week.  The price is usually $1.99 per jar, but it can be purchased for as little as $1.25 per jar when it is on sale.  By purchasing eight jars at 1.25 cents, I can have enough pasta sauce to last until the next sale and not need to purchase it at full price.  That decreases my pasta sauce spending by 37%!

Just in case you think that my pasta sauce example is unusual, let’s take the frozen hamburgers my family likes.  (Yes, I know it is easy to make your own hamburgers, but we are dealing with an unusual situation here overseas.)  They are usually $6.99 a box, but they are currently on sale for $4.99 a box, the best price I have ever seen.  I’m buying as many as I can fit in my miniscule little freezer.  That 28% savings certainly helps me to get my food bill down the 10% for which I’m striving.

If you get into a little couponing, and can put that together with price watching and stockpiling, your savings can grow even more.  For example, for that same $1.25 sale pasta sauce, I had a coupon for $1.00 off two jars, making them $.75 each.  I can find room in my pantry for that kind of savings.

It can be a bit overwhelming at first, so start with just the 10 items that your family uses on a weekly basis.  Keep track of those prices and do a little stockpiling and see how you feel about the process.

My daughter insists that I include some reasons that you might not want to stockpile, just so that you are looking at the big picture.  Her list includes:

  • You might get unexpected PCS orders.
  • You might not have room at your house to store the food.
  • You might not use it before it goes bad.  (This is especially important with refrigerated good.)
  • Your family might not like what you’ve bought.  (Only buy stuff you know they will eat.  I suspect she added this from personal experience.)

Alright, now that you are armed with information, you can start your mini-stockpiling adventure.  Let me know how it goes!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.