How to Start Building a Stockpile

I have a stockpile. No, I’m not an extreme couponer but I do have and maintain a stockpile. Why? A stockpile is one of the best ways to save money on a grocery bill.  

Stockpiling has gotten a bad name from some extreme couponers. That’s a shame because done correctly and prudently, a stockpile will save you money. A stockpile is simply planning ahead and buying the items your family will use when they are at their lowest prices. That way, instead of running to the store the next time you are out of peanut butter and paying full price, you can simply go to your stockpile and grab a jar of peanut butter that you bought for only $1.50.

We all want to save money on our grocery bill and a stockpile allows you to do just that. It’s been years since I started stockpiling and it is one of the reasons I have been able to keep our grocery budget so low. Today, I want to share some tips for those of you who are interested in building your own grocery stockpile.

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1. Set aside a specific amount of your grocery budget to spend on building your stockpile.

I truly believe that anyone can stockpile even on a tight budget. By setting aside a specific amount each month, you are intentionally shopping for the future. You will be amazed at how far even $5 or $10 can go each month when you know it is specifically for your stockpile.

2. Take your time.

Building a stockpile doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. Be prepared to invest your time in finding good deals and be patient. As I have told many others, when you start to coupon and build a stockpile, your grocery bill might even increase slightly before it goes down. It takes time to learn how to find the best deals to save money. I promise that the more you work at it, the more your savings will increase!

3. Know your prices and watch for the best deals.

This is incredibly important! Stores often run sales that aren’t really all that great of a sale. On the other hand, every couple months a truly great sale does come along. If you know your prices, you can stock up when you see those great sales.

How do you know? Eventually, you will learn how to spot those great sales. For now, I recommend using this free printable of my stockpiling prices. When I can spot a deal at one of these prices, I will stock up. Some of these prices are achieved by combining sales and coupons but I can and do find prices this low. Scan the sale flyers for the stores nearest to you and be willing to shop at more than one store on occasion. Remember, take your time and watch for the best deals!

If you want to learn more about how I get the best deals on groceries, check out Crystal Paine’s Grocery Ebook! It is the best grocery guide around and describes my process exactly. Seriously, I could have written this book, it is that similar to what I do. If you want to find the best deals to build your stockpile, read Crystal’s ebook and watch the savings stack up!

4. Stockpile the deals that your family will really use and donate the rest.

Start by making a list of 10 to 20 items that you know your family always uses. What is regularly on your grocery list? These are the items you want in your stockpile. Here are some of the items I always keep in my stockpile. Focus on stockpiling the items you regularly consume.

It’s also important to know when and where to be brand loyal in your stockpile. For example, I will buy a lot of generics but I only buy name brand chocolate chips. I’m not going to buy the generic ones even if they are a great deal because I know I won’t use them.  I don’t want to spend my money buying a product that we won’t use.

That said, if I can get something for free – or even a quarter – I will most likely buy the product. If we won’t use it, I donate it. Food pantries are always in need of donations!

5. Keep track of what you have and what you want to have. 

This is how you maintain a stockpile. If you already have 8 boxes of pasta, you can probably stockpile another item. This varies from family to family. You alone can make that decision. Is your salary tighter in some months than in others? Plan ahead and prepare your stockpile for those challenges.

Here’s my rule of thumb. With perishables and canned goods, I try to buy enough to get us to the next good sale. If things don’t expire (like toilet paper, toiletries, diapers and laundry detergent) and the sale is really good, I will buy as much as my budget allows.

Be sure to properly rotate your cans and boxes so you use them before they expire. You can store a stockpile almost anywhere – under beds, in small closets, or in the basement. Just find an unused spot and make it work for you.

6. You will have another opportunity to stock up.

Sales go in cycles that repeat every 8 to 12 weeks. There are also seasonal sales that vary. (Here’s another printable about sale cycles so you can watch for those.) If you miss a certain deal, just watch for the next one. Don’t be upset that you missed one sale. There will always be another sale and another deal.

Do you have a stockpile? If so, what would you add to this list?

For more information and tips about starting a stockpile, check out Everything You Need to Know about Stockpiles. 

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  1. I love that I’ve built up a stockpile over the last 9 months or so, I started in my third trimester of my pregnancy to prepare for me to stay home with my baby and it has made our grocery/household goods budget drop so much!! We honestly wasted so much money on groceries and eating out when I worked full time that makes me cringe in hindsight. I grew up in a financially unstable household and my stockpile puts me at ease knowing that we have at least a months worth of food and many months of household necessities and diapers. (We just started using size 2s and I’m working on stockpiling size 4s!)
    We also got an Aldi right around the time I started stockpiling which has helped a ton! Besides that, I coupon mostly at target and Walgreens and I go to two different food share pantries per month, I’ve been saving so much money and my stockpile is growing!

    1. Good for you, Rylee! A stockpile is such a great way to save money, and yes, it does offer peace of mind too. Like you, I still stockpile diapers, and have been for over 6 years now (3 kids later…). I share more about how I do it here – And blessings on being a stay at home mom! It is one of the hardest things you will do, but so worthwhile. 🙂

  2. I am going to try to grow my own vegetables this year will probably make me eat more of my vegetables tryed grow my own carrots last year it turned out bad but will try again not going to grow vegetables we will not eat because like you said that would be a waste of time and compote and space i am also looking for a meat grinder so i can grind my own meat when I make a trip to walliey would i buy a few contaniners of petro also when i go to my supper market over buy house a buy a extra bags of beans or what ever else i need

  3. I’ve recently set aside some money to start doing thins. I’ terrible at remembering to buy things to the last minute and this will eliminate the rushed trip to the store.

    1. Good for you, Clarissa! Not only will it save you money, but time is money, and eliminating that last minute trip to the store is a good thing, too! The opportunities to save with stockpiling are limitless. Good luck as you begin!

  4. Great tips! We stockpile too, but not always to save money. Some places, like Trader Joe’s or the Asian grocery market, we stock up on stuff because it’s a longer drive to get out there, or it’s a trip we make once every few months.

    1. That’s another great reason to stockpile, Vera! Stocking up saves you money – and time! Sometimes, the time is just as valuable (if not more) than the money saved by stocking up. When I made it to an Aldi, every once in a while, I make sure to stock up too since I don’t know when we’ll be back. We don’t have a Trader Joes within in a couple hours. Sigh. Maybe someday!

  5. Bulk food is intimidating because of the upfront cost, but we’re at the point where we’re starting to feel the savings. We live in the cornfields so we take advantage of local meats and we have a CSA subscription.

    1. Agreed, Courtney! I think it is that initial, upfront cost that frustrates some people and causes them to give up on stocking up on food. I’m glad you’re starting to see savings! That’s wonderful that you can and do buy local meats! I want to look into that in the future.

  6. THIS IS PERFECT!!! Excellent list and points, Kristen!

    People are always asking how I have such a low grocery budget and it’s indeed the stockpile! Buy at it’s lowest price! But, it doesn’t happen overnight and yes, the outlay may go up in the beginning, but down in the long haul. Look at the overall picture and not just this week’s funds.

    Budgeting it a huge key too, as you need to take time, be intentional with where you spend your money. It does require some time to get started, but it’s an investment that will save you massively down the road!

    I know when I started, when deals were richer, better, with way more freebies, I kind of got caught up in it and was getting more deals than needs. While it’s true, (& needed!) donate your excess, yet don’t extreme coupon for things you don’t need, beware of the ‘coupon high.’ Stick to your needs and it may take you time to figure out how many jars of salsa or pasta sauce you need until the next sale. Take your time. Perseverance & patience WILL reap rewards!

    “Use what you have” is really important here too. When the mood strikes that neither my Hubs or I want to cook, & take out is calling, we challenge each other to look in the stockpile to see who can make something. Google a few main ingredients you have and you will be surprised at what pops up! We have found some favorite dishes with just leftovers & the stockpile. In this day and age with so much information at your fingertips, it’s easy to stock some basic staples and make delicious meals.

    This is fabulous and every single point is bang on! This is a excellent start to watching your grocery budget shrink! Apply these 6 tips and magically your grocery budget WILL drop!

    1. Wow! Thanks, Christina! You added some great points, too. Yes, the deals have dramatically changed (when we lost the double and tripling coupons), but we can still save with stockpiling. Thanks for adding your insight!

    1. Hi, Lee Ann. I currently have a membership to Sam’s because I somehow got a free membership in the mail this year. I shop there once a month or less, and am not planning on renewing my membership. I get most of my deals just by watching the regular grocery stores and their sales.

  7. I like that you said it takes time. When I first started watching the sales I was so overwhelmed and felt like I couldn’t keep up with it all, but it has definitely gotten easier now that I have been at it for a year now. I recently had to buy sugar at full price. Ugh! The last few shopping trips, I had just shoved things into my pantry instead of keeping it organized and didn’t realize I was out of sugar. Stockpiling does work! Thanks for sharing the printable for stockpiling prices.

    1. I’m glad you stuck with it, Emily! Isn’t it frustrating to have to pay full price for things? Ha. I need to reorganize my pantry as well. I hope the printable will be helpful to your stockpiling efforts, too!

  8. We stockpile at our house too. Right now I have 19 boxes of cereal. That’s more than I usually store but I found two good deals on cereal at the same time and I know we will eat them up and I don’t have to watch for cereal to go on sale, for a while.

    I also use my price list like you do. I know where the best deal is without a sale on each main item I like to stock, so I can tell a good sale when it comes along.

    I know Costco has a good deal on Peanut butter at $.10 an ounce. If I can’t get peanut butter for $1.50 or less for a small jar, I know I can get it at Costco. Also tortilla chips are the best price at Costco too. The membership does cost too, but I find I save that much and more by buying the items that are a good deal there over the year.

    1. This is the beauty of stockpiles, Shelly! You know your family will eat the cereal, so you bought the deal! This is what I want everyone to remember. You have to make your stockpile work for your family. We currently have a membership to Sam’s, thanks to a free offer this year, but I haven’t decided if I’ll renew or not. I’m glad Costco has great deals for you!

  9. I just found your blog. Love it. We also have freezer stockpile. This includes berries, corn, green beans, meats that go on sales. I am a canner and also I freeze our produce for winter. I think if my hubby lost his job tomorrow I would not need to go to the store for 6 months. With 6 people this is huge. I now only shop for milk and buns and us a small portion for continually stock piling. Our grocery budget has dropped from 400. a month to around 300. thanks to our stockpile.

    1. Thank you so much, Sara! I’m glad you are here and that you discovered my blog. Like you, I think a stockpile is a great practical insurance against whatever may happen. I love my freezer! Canning and freezing produce is a great way to save. I’m glad you have seen your hard work of stockpiling pay off by a lowered budget!

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