Building your Stockpile

by Melody on January 2, 2010

What is a stockpile?

First off, you need to understand this term. Basically, a stockpile is just what it sounds like. It’s buying items your family uses at their lowest prices and “stocking up”. When you buy an item for the cheapest you can possibly find it, instead of when you are desperate after running out, you will save your family SO much money. 

The term in the couponing world does not necessarily apply just to food, although that’s a big part of it. Our family has a huge stockpile of toiletries (shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc). These are items that, of course, we are going to use on an everyday basis. Why wait until we are totally out and pay full price? Anticipate your family’s needs and buy ahead of time. We also stock up on printer paper, office supplies like tape and envelopes and laundry supplies (detergent, fabric softener, etc).

How to get started?

The most important part of stockpiling is to learn the lowest price of an item. Keep a list with you at all times with the lowest price you have ever paid for your everyday items. This doesn’t just mean total price, it’s also important to figure out the per-unit price. For example, my lowest price point for cranberry juice is 4 cents/oz (totally fictional, just an example!). Then, when you find an item at this price, STOCK UP! Buy as much as you think your family can use before the expiration date or as much as you have room for. Freeze what you can (only food, of course!). 

This is where having multiple coupons comes in handy. You can, of course, find an item at its lowest price without a coupon, but combining that price with a coupon is an even better score. If you can get an item free or as a moneymaker but can’t/won’t use it, donate it. Food banks are always looking for donations! Another idea is to give it to a friend or neighbor who will use it.


Learn what works for your family. Don’t buy twenty cans of beets just because they are cheap if your family won’t eat them (unless you plan to donate, of course). We are lucky in that we don’t have any serious food allergies or diet restrictions and we don’t eat strictly organic, but if you do, learn the lowest prices of items that work for you and your family. You may not be able to lower your grocery budget as much as we can, but do what is best for you. We are not brand-specific (anymore) and my husband and son would eat wallpaper paste if I told them it tasted good, so I’m lucky. 🙂

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

The Danielle Five January 27, 2011 at 2:30 am

I love this blog Melody!! It's been a great resource for me as I start our family on a budget for 2011. I was wondering about the stockpile…when you were first starting did you go over your initial budget by trying to fill your stockpile? I set a budget this month & used the budget tracker (which I love) but have gone over my initial budget. I'm sure this takes time, but I was just wondering how you might have done it. Did I set up to fail by setting to low of a starting budget? Or am I just needing to put a little extra in until we get a good supply going? Thanks for all your hard work on this blog to help all of us other moms!!


Melody January 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm

That's a really good question! When I first started getting serious about lowering our budget, we were around $200 per month. Over a full year of couponing, I was able to lower it to $165, but that was only AFTER building up a stockpile over 12 months.

I know some people who set aside a certain amount per month ($20 or $30) to specifically use towards building their stockpile. I guess you could say we did the same, we just didn't specifically say that's what the extra money was for.

We now are able to keep the budget low while just maintaining our stockpile.

I hope that helps, I know every family is different, but it seems to be a fairly common theme that you do need a little extra to build up your pantry.

In the beginning, I would spend a little more on what I now consider "freebies" like toothpaste, salad dressing, BBQ sauce and others just to help build up my stock and get me through to the next sale. I'd rather pay half price than full price any day, and this helped. 🙂


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