Stockpiling

Assess what your family eats so you know which staples to stockpile.

  1. Look through recipes you frequently use and your recent grocery-shopping receipts to draft a list of your most-purchased non-perishables.
  2. Think about canned foods (like corn, beans and tomato sauce or paste), dried staples (pasta, cereal and rice), dairy products (butter and cheese) and meat (chicken breast, fryers and ground beef).
  3. Check beyond the kitchen for toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste and toilet paper.

Create a plan. Now that you know what items your family uses most, create a plan for the best way to buy and store them.

  1. Find and clip coupons for items on your stockpile list.
  2. Clear out a shelf (or two!) in your pantry and freezer, or designate an area in your basement to keep your stash. Don’t store food items in the garage, where the temperature can fluctuate widely.
  3. Make a meal plan: use foods from your stash to cook five nights per week. Eat leftovers one night and, if your budget allows, designate one night to dine out.

Assemble your stockpile.

  1. Don’t fill your pantry with items that aren’t on sale; wait for markdowns and apply a coupon.
  2. Track sales with a price book; aim for a savings of at least 70 percent off the original price.
  3. Buy in bulk: If you have six coupons for Cheerios and they’re on sale, making the cereal 50 cents per box, buy all six boxes. The initial cash outlay will be higher, but you won’t have to buy cereal again for six weeks or longer.

Restock when your supply gets low and track expiration dates so food doesn’t go to waste.

  1. Use a marker to write the date the product expires (not the date you bought it) on the package in a place that’s easy to see.
  2. Store new purchases behind older items to ensure that nothing sits in your pantry for too long.
  3. Before you head to the grocery store, check your pantry to see what you need and shop for the goods you can get free or very cheap after sales and coupons.

To see at a glance what you have and what you need, arrange your products as grocers do: by category (baked goods, beverages, canned goods, etc.), with labels forward.

  1. Freeze it. Leak-proof containers are ideal for freezing fruits, vegetables, meats and leftovers.
  2. Keep cans tidy. Use a handy rack to help cans stay in line.
  3. Line ’em up. Pour grains into canisters or resealable bins, which stack evenly, helping your pantry stay neat.

Keep in mind it could take up to three months to build a complete stockpile. A family of three can expect to shell out an extra $100 per month while amassing those supplies. But by the end of three months, your grocery spending should be 50 to 70 percent less than it was before you started to stockpile.

Help your community: If you’ve purchased something that you won’t be able to use before it expires, donate it to a shelter or a soup kitchen.

Add it up: A family of three with an original monthly grocery bill of $450 should be spending an average of about $150 per month on groceries, between keeping up the stockpile and buying perishables.

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