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6 Shopping tips for saving money while building a grocery stockpile

Heather Wheeler

I used to build my stockpile using one simple strategy: Buy all the sale things.

It seemed like a solid plan, until I ran out of storage nooks and crannies — and started to consider slipcovering a pile of paper-towel rolls to use as a chair. Also, it turns out that sale items still cost money. I needed a better strategy.

If you’re new to creating a grocery stockpile, or if your couponing has gotten a bit out of hand, never fear. My “stockpiling 101” tips are here to save the day — and your budget.

1. Know when to stock up

Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you should clear the shelf. There’s a big difference between a good deal and a stock-up price. For most items, the magical stock-up number is 70 percent off retail price. Other items that are hard to find on sale, like Tide detergent, jam, almond butter and syrup, should be stocked when they’re 50 percent off. Pair these stock-up prices with coupons, and you got yourself a smoking-hot deal!

If you need a little more help knowing when to buy things, and how many to get, The Krazy Coupon Lady Stock Up Price Sheet is a great guide.

2. Get creative with your storage

Don’t worry, I abandoned the “stockpile as furniture” idea a long time ago. There are ways to creatively make the most of your space.

  • Don’t assume that everything has to be stored in your pantry, linen closet or laundry room. Utilize your attic, basement, garage, the back of doors (hanging shoe organizers make great storage tools), under your bed and other unconventional spaces.
  • Remove bulky packaging when possible. Some products are packaged like Russian nesting dolls — a bag, inside a box, inside another box, inside a… you get the idea. If you can remove some of that without compromising the storage life of the product, you’ll gain a bit of extra space.

3. Only buy what you can use

If you buy something for an incredible price, but you never use it, is it still a good deal? Be realistic about your product usage, and only buy the types and quantities that you will actually consume.

4. Rotate your stock

If your product has an expiration date, make sure you organize it so you can easily access and rotate it when needed. Out of sight, out of mind is a real thing, and it’s a bummer when you realize you’ve missed a window to use something. Putting the products that expire the soonest at the front is just one way to save on spoilage.

5. Freeze perishables

My kids always know when I got a good deal on a fresh item, because it suddenly becomes the star of our menu for the week, i.e. corn on the cob with creamed corn, cornbread, corn cakes, corn salad, corn chowder and corn salsa on corn chips — and that’s just for dinner. There’s no need to panic about fresh items, because you can stockpile them too. Simply freeze the excess and use them over time. (Tip: To freeze fresh veggies, simply blanch them, submerge them in ice water, and then freeze them in airtight containers or freezer bags with as much air removed as possible.)

6. Know sale cycles

We all know fruits and vegetables have a season, but did you know packaged goods do too? For example, it’s best to buy baking goods like chocolate chips and nuts in November and December when they’re on sale for the holidays. Learn the stock-up seasons — we’ve broken them down for you here — and you can save a bundle while filling your pantry.

Follow these six tips, and you’ll be well stocked — and well on your way to being an expert saver. For more tips and tricks, and to see the best prices and deals, visit

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