Cutting down on my grocery budget is an important part of my life these days. A few months ago, I began going one step further by stockpiling foods for my pantry. Once you’re used to shopping sales, use these five simple and easy steps to begin stockpiling, shrinking your grocery budget to a new level.
Step One: Make a List
Make a list of pantry staples your family uses on a regular basis. Some examples from our family include cream soups, canned tuna, canned chicken, boxed cereal and peanut butter. I do quite a bit of baking so I often need flour, sugar, yeast and butter.
You can hang your list on the fridge or in your pantry cupboard so you can reference it at all times. Also on this list you can mark off how many of these items you have stored in your pantry, checking them off as you use them.
Once you’ve established your list of “most-wanted” items, create a price sheet that tracks the lowest price of each item. Most foods go through a twelve-week sale cycle, so you simply need to pay attention to when the prices of your favorites hit rock-bottom. Then you can buy these items at the rock-bottom price and many times combine it with a coupon.
Watching for seasonal prices can get you off on the right foot. For instance, I often find cream soups, cranberries and chicken broth at their lowest price around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Healthy cereals and granola bars can often be found for low cost around New Year’s (think health resolutions). Many times coupons are issued for these foods at the same times of year.
Step Three: Set Aside Money for Stockpiling
Even if you have a small grocery budget, try to set aside $5-$10 per week to specifically go toward stockpiling. If you want, you can let this money accumulate each week for a month or so if you plan to buy flour, rice or beans in bulk. A good place to buy bulk organic foods is Azure Standard.
When I purchase “stockpile” items, which also include foods like cheese, juice and frozen vegetables, I try to get enough to last our family for six to eight weeks (longer if it’s in the budget). I just freeze the cheese, butter and juice I won’t be using right away.
Step Four: Go Shopping!
Armed with your extra money and knowledge, take a trip to the stores and shop! Try to go by yourself if you can. I find my concentration is at a much higher level when I don’t have my kids attempting to climb out of the cart and asking for treats!
Try to shop at only a couple of stores the first few times you stockpile. It got so confusing for me to try and hit five different places the first time I attempted this feat. I found that my time was worth something as well!
Remember that you can sometimes price- match advertised specials from local stores at Walmart and Target, so if you want to make fewer trips this would be a way to do it. Be careful if you have coupons, however, as some stores will not apply coupons after they have matched the price of the item in that transaction.
Step Five: Organize Your Pantry
Food goes to waste if it just hides in the back of a pantry (and my pantry is deep!). Spend a half hour organizing your shelves to allow for easy access to what you need. Use the list that you made in Step One to keep track of how much you have and remember to cross each item off as it’s consumed. Same goes for items kept in your freezer.
It can be easy to get caught up in overstocking to the point where your pantry ends up looking like the shelves at your local grocery store! One important lesson for me was to buy only what I was actually going to use, otherwise I didn’t really save.
Stockpiling can really help you make even more headway on your grocery budget. Keep it simple, keep track of prices, keep clipping coupons and watch the savings pile up!