If you’ve done any reading about homesteading, you’ve likely come across the word “stockpile”. I think stockpiling first became popular when the couponing fad took over, but it’s very relevant and important to homesteaders. Our stockpile has come in handy on so many occasions. The best news is, it’s easy and inexpensive to start your own stockpile!
First, understand that stockpiling isn’t about purchasing a ton of one item that you may or may not use just because you think it’s going to look good in your pantry or basement. The point of a stockpile is to have lots of items on hand that your family regularly uses that you were able to find at a good price.
First, decide how much space you have in your home to dedicate to your stockpile. You don’t have to have a basement with rows and rows of shelves to start a stockpile! You can store foods and household goods in numerous places in your home in order to find some room.
If you are a little short on storage space, you have to keep this in mind when beginning your stockpile. Don’t “shelf-clear” an item just because you find a good deal if you aren’t going to be able to store it in your home. Instead, buy as much as you can comfortably fit and use before the expiration date!
Even though we live in a small house, we have no shortage of cabinet space in our kitchen. For this reason, I go a little overboard when I find a good deal on canned goods. When Big Lots has their 20% off sales, I go and stock up on all the canned soups and vegetables that I’m sure I can’t get a better deal on anywhere else.
It’s unhealthy how excited I get at the sight of a cart full of canned goods…This is one of those things my poor husband probably should have been clued in on before he settled down with me.
Next, watch out for deals! Look at produce at your grocery store and stock up when you find a great deal if you have the storage space. Fruits and veggies can be canned or frozen so you can enjoy them far longer than you could if you were to eat them fresh.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for paper products that you regularly use. Stockpiling isn’t just about food! If you find an awesome deal on toilet paper or paper towels, go ahead and stock up and store them. Find a great deal on your favorite shampoo? Buy a few bottles! Here is how I stockpile on personal care items.
Bulk food is a great way to start your stockpile! If there are items you use a ton of, it’s probably a safe bet to buy them in bulk if you find a price that rivals what you pay at the store for regular sizes. Lentils are a safe bet in our house. We use TONS of them, so buying a 25 pound sack of them wouldn’t be a bad idea in our house. If you’ve never eaten lentils, it’s probably a really bad idea to buy a lot of them in the hopes that you’ll love them as much as we do. Reserve your bulk buys for tried and true ingredients!
If you make your own bread, bread flour is a great bulk buy option! We keep ours in a BPA-free storage bucket with gamma lid. You can find these here. We keep a second bucket just like this for our rice as well. They work great, they’re food-safe, and they let you keep a large amount of a kitchen staple on hand.
The best part about buckets with gamma lids is you can store them in your garage or basement and not have to worry about moisture or bugs getting into them.
Look for going out of business sales. When Walmart Express went out of business in our area, we stocked up while things were 50%-75% off. Had we been clipping our coupons, we could have saved way, way more!
Speaking of coupons, sign up for www.couponmom.com or www.southernsavers.com and get some of your stockpiling items for pennies on the dollar or even for free! If you’re like me and don’t have time to compare coupons to flyers, follow these lovely ladies who have already done the hard part for you!
Don’t forget to watch out for seasonal sales. You can get great deals after holidays, during back-to-school, promotions, etc. I wrote an article about how I save money all year by shopping after Christmas sales, and I can’t recommend this method enough. You can do it on a smaller scale after every holiday, but when next Christmas rolls around, I expect to see you waiting at Walmart’s door December 26th at 5:59 am!
The key is to be organized and always know what you have on hand and where it is. It makes no sense to have cans and cans of something only to find them long after they’ve expired. This actually costs you money and is the opposite of our stockpiling/homesteading goal here. Trust me, I learned this one the hard way.
Some stockpiling advantages in our home have been to not have to run out to the store (typically a big inconvenience for homesteaders because a lot of us live far from the nearest town) to get an ingredient for a recipe and to not have to pay full price for things we use often. Our cabinets are stocked with the staple items we use and enjoy.
An unexpected perk of our stockpiling journey is the security it brings. If something were to happen and my husband lost his job tomorrow, we wouldn’t have to worry about having money for food for weeks, maybe months. It’s also great during winter months (not such a concern now that we live in North Carolina) when you aren’t sure if you’ll be able to get out for the next few days.
I’m not asking you to go apocalyptic and buy enough food to last you for years. Sales are cyclical and come around regularly. You really don’t have to stock up on enough of something to last you for the rest of your life. I would try to have enough to last between 6 weeks and 3 months.
There are some exceptions. When my favorite sunless tanner went on clearance at Walmart for 2 cents (yes, 2 CENTS!) I bought all that I could find at every surrounding area Walmart and called my mom and best friend in different cities to do the same. If you know you’ll never possibly find this deal again, go ahead and go crazy.
Otherwise, buy enough for your family to get through a few weeks and then keep an eye out for sales going forward.
This is KEY: You don’t want your stockpile to be a museum. You want to actually USE it. You want these products to be constantly going through rotation – you find a great deal, you stock up, you use it up, you find another great deal, you pick up some more…and so on.
Organize your stockpile by expiration date, and check on these things regularly. Base your meal plan around the items that will be going bad soon. Keep your freezer organized so you don’t add a 3rd bag of onions to the two you will already probably never use.
If you’re smart about how you build your stockpile and how you use it, you will absolutely find that you save a large percentage on your grocery/household item bill every month. Plus, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a seasoned homesteader by having your own stocked cabinets and pantry full of useful items for you and your family!
When figuring out how to start a stockpile, remember:
- Only buy it if it’s a great deal! If so, go ahead and stock up!
- Buy only what you can use by the expiration date
- Shop for your space. Only purchase what you can reasonably store
- Buy in bulk, shop sales, coupon! Find great deals and don’t give in to the urge to buy lots of an item if it’s full price just for the sake of having a stockpile. You can build your stockpile over time! The goal is to save money and be frugal about this.
- Organize your stockpile, know what you have, and actually use it. Don’t let your food go bad before you get the chance to use it. This is counterproductive (and exactly what I’ve done. Learn from my mistakes!)
Do you have a stockpile? What kinds of things do you keep? What are your storage solutions for bulk food items? Let me know in the comments!