If you've been watching the TLC show "Extreme Couponing," you're probably fascinated by the immense stockpiles that the couponers shown have in their homes. Hundreds of rolls of toilet paper, dozens of bags of chips, storage shelves in the bedroom and closets... the amount stored is just stunning.
But stockpiling isn't about getting as many items as you can. It's about providing for your family's needs, and being able to have extra on hand to help a friend or neighbor, or to donate to your favorite organization.
So here are some tips on stockpiling the not-so-extreme way:
- Figure out what foods you want to store. Just because you like a particular kind of food doesn't mean that you should have tons of it on hand. You might buy a couple when it's on sale, then go without until the next sale. Save your space for the things you eat regularly.
- Decide how much space you want to devote to your stockpile. Don't let the stockpile grow beyond the space you've chosen.
- Figure out how much you want to store. Most items go on sale about once every three to six months. So you really need to store three to six months' worth of any item. Some items go on sale seasonally - for instance, condiments are often on sale during the summer, when they're used for barbecues. So you might buy one year's worth of ketchup at the best summer sale.
- Keep an eye on how much you use - do you go through one box of pasta a week, or three? This will depend on your family size, visitors you might have regularly, and how much you like certain foods.
- Calculate how many of each item you'll need. So if you use two boxes of pasta a week, and you want to have three months' worth, you'll need 24 boxes of pasta in your stockpile.
- When you do find a good sale, check how many items you still have in your stockpile. Buy only to fill up the stockpile, and no more (unless you want to donate items to charity or to give to friends).
- If you buy items that are free or are moneymakers, but they aren't items you could imagine using, don't even let them get into your shelves! Keep a box for donations in a different place than your stockpile, or keep it in your car and take it when it's convenient.
- breakfast cereal and oatmeal
- crackers, granola bars, and nuts (for husband to take to work)
- canned tomatoes and tomato sauce
- peanut butter
- canned fruit and applesauce
- canned mushrooms
- pasta sauce
- baking goods (flour, sugar, oil)
- juice boxes
See? Not all that much. Yet I'm able to feed my family on $80 per week, and very rarely do I have to buy a food item at full grocery prices.
Other stockpiling articles on Frugal Follies:
For more frugal tips, please check out the bloggers listed on the left sidebar under Frugal Tips Linkups. There are lots of great ideas on each blog and I'm sure you'll find lots of wonderful tips!