Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stockpiling Question


This week's edition of Works For Me Wednesday is Backwards. Instead of posting one of our trivial  regular tips, bloggers are posting questions to their readers in hopes that someone will have an idea.

I've mentioned before that I am a stockpiler. I always have been. To the extent that my home and freezer will accommodate the stuff, I buy the things I use on sale (preferrably with a coupon) and try very hard not to buy them again until the next big sale - about 6 weeks later.

 But there are a few obstacles to my stockpiling habits. 1) Eating habits change from time to time, requiring a change of purchases; 2) I don't make certain recipes often enough to stockpile their ingredients (i.e. whipping cream); and, 3) this is the most frustrating one - inevitably I miss the fact that I'm running low on something and have to add it to my grocery list on a non-sale week.

When #3 happens, I typically buy the generic from the cheapest store in town. This saves a little, but I always end up irritated with myself for missing the best price. Most recently this happened with peanut butter. Peanut butter is not an optional food at my house. It keeps my son alive and healthy on a daily basis. So why is it when I was down to just 2 jars of peanut butter I didn't notice and start looking for sales?

So here's the question for my incredibly savvy and intelligent readers: How do you track your stockpile so that you are buying items only on sale with coupons? 

Please, help.  Thank you.

Lots of bloggers are looking for answers this week. Please come share your tips and knowledge at Works or Me Wednesday.

21 comments:

Wendy said...

I'm trying to get better at stockpiling too, and have wondered the same thing. I'll be coming back to see what kind of answers you get!

pendy said...

If you're not familiar with Want What You Have, check it out. Here's a link to her section of Frugal Food Storage, but she has lots of other great ideas (as well as a great blog!). http://blog.wantingwhatyouhave.com/2008/07/frugal-food-storage.html

Michelle said...

I am always battling this too, maybe some type of checklist or something that you could keep inside the cupboard and mark things off as you use them or add as you buy them so instead of looking through the whole cupboard, you can check the list at a glance.

Amy Rainey said...

I've been thinking about making a master list of staple items with the number in my stockpile written in pencil, then changing the number each time I open a new package. I though keeping this in my coupon binder would be convenient so that I would know what I have if I run into a good deal while I'm out. My problem is, I don't know if I will actually adjust the number each time I open something new...I'm afraid that I am not that organized.

Buffie said...

We have the same problem in our house. Hubby actually ran out of deodorant last month. I know some people keep an inventory system in place, but I know my hubby wouldn't update it when he took something so I'm trying to figure out if something else will work. I'm interested to see the answers you get.

Trixie said...

Hi,

This has happened to me too. It's so frustrating to know that the item can be had for cheaper, but I missed it.

The reason this happens to me is that my stock pile isn't all that neat (as a matter of fact, it's downright messy. I'm participating in the January Pantry Challenge to eat from my stockpiles all this month. In preparation for the challenge I've got everything all organized to see what all I had. It was quite a surprise to find out that I had a lot of some things I thought were running low and had run low on other things I thought I had a lot of!

I think keeping things neat and organized with all like items together makes a big difference. Best of luck to you : )

Trixie

Lynnette said...

Keeping a list of things you use regularly is a great idea. Regardless of whether you put down how many you have of that item. Once a month or so go through your stock and find out what you need to be looking for deals on. You can even add non-regularly used items to this list if you know something's coming up so that you can search for the best price on those, as well.

Melissa said...

I don't have a perfect system, but this is what works for me. In addition to my grocery list for the upcoming week, I keep a list of "things to buy when they're on sale." When we take the second-to-last (or last, depending on how long something lasts) of an item, it gets added to the list. Every week when I look at the grocery ad, I see if any of those items are on sale.

I should also add that my 12yo has volunteered to manage the stockpile. It's GREAT to be able to ask him, "How much (whatever) do we have? Do we need to buy any?" :)

Johnlyn ~ said...

I don't use many coupons, but I'll tell you what I do.

I have two different grocery lists. A "needs" grocery list and a "pantry/stockpile - fridge, freezer, cupboard" grocery list. I buy my "needs" every other week at the store. I buy "pantry" stuff when they go on sale for my stock up price.

Here's an example of how the pantry principle works for me: I shop from my pantry so when I use the last of the sugar from my cupboard, I go to my pantry (stock pile) and grab a bag of sugar.

Then it goes on my "pantry" list. I check the sale ads weekly and when it goes to my stock up price (using a price book) then I buy one for my pantry.

Depending on how much you use of an item, depends on the amount you need to have in your pantry. I've found I'm most comfortable having two bags of sugar in my pantry, but I like to have 4 bags of flour. Shredded cheese goes on sale here every 6 weeks for $1.00 for 8 oz. When it goes on sale I buy 12 bags and put it in the freezer. By this point I'm usually down to 1 or 2 bags of cheese from the previous sale. I put the new cheese in the bag of the freezer so I use the old stuff first.

I tried keeping an inventory on paper and it just didn't work for me.

As far as shampoo, conditioners, soaps, etc. I shop for those items monthly (not too many coupons in my neck of the woods). I again use the pantry principle for that. I have a list of items that I print out and make sure I have enough in my stockpile to get us through to the next month. 1 shampoo, 1 conditioner, 4 bars of soap, 1 toothpaste, etc.

adjunctmom said...

My dad uses an Excel spreadsheet to manage theirs. Personally, I find that frightening, but it might help you. He types up what he has and the number of whatevers that he has. He hangs a copy on the fridge and updates it, I think, every couple of weeks.

Heather said...

If you keep things on shelves in rows (like a grocery store does), mark the lid of a container with an "x" when you're down to the last few items. When you get to the one that has an "x," you'll know that you only have 2 or 3 more on that row before you run out. Or you could number the lids in a descending order. Personally, I just keep an eye out for good deals and buy it if it's something I know we'll use.

Kristen said...

I think the best thing to do is keep a running list in your head of what is a good price for everything you use. I know that some people actually keep price books in their purses. When you see something you know you use, buy it, regardless of whether or not you are running low. You don't have to buy a ton at a time. If you are always buying one, you won't ever run out. Inventories are great. If the list idea is too hard, just look at your stockpile everytime you make a shopping list. By glancing, you should be able to see if you need to buy more of a particular item. Lastly, when you grab the last of anything off the shelf to use, put it on a shopping list...even if you don't buy it until there is a sale, you will at least know you need to be looking for a good price.

Milehimama said...

Look in your pantry before you shop. Have a mental "reserve" level. For us, for peanut butter, it's six jars (Yeah, I'm a stockpiler too!) I can stack 3 jars 2 high on my shelf. If I look at my PB stash, and see a "hole", I know I need it and add to the list. I keep a running list in my planner of "needs" like this (other things, like vinegar, oil, etc. go on here too) and I add them in when shopping the loss leader.

I keep my coupons and price book in the same thing - my "magic box). I posted about it on my blog:
http://www.milehimama.com/2009/06/09/how-to-save-money-on-food-the-magic-box-pt-1/

http://www.milehimama.com/2009/06/23/how-to-save-on-food-pricebooks-and-the-magic-box/

That said, I will often stock up if a great sale happens by, even if I don't technically need to. So if PB is cheap, I might buy an extra 6 jars, giving me 12 jars. More than my mental reserve, but it's not like it won't keep!

Harper said...

I created an Excel file with a list of every food item in my kitchen. I have it divided into categories (staples, baking goods, spices, fruit, vegetables, etc.)and alphebetized within the categories. Then I have a price column where I put the best price/unit I have found, and a third column for check marks to say when I have something stocked. During the week I update my list and make my grocery list from it along with my meal plane. It takes all of five minutes every evening to update. After I do my shopping I update the list again.

Harper said...

I also wanted to add that I don't buy everything I'm out of every week. I cross reference my master list with the sale flyer (and coupons, if I'm using them)and buy the things I can get a good deal on that week.

If I had the space to stockpile I would add a column to my file for my reserve amount.

Becky said...

I guess we use a combination of some of the other suggestions. I hadn't ever called it stockpiling, but I guess that's what we do. We have a couple of shelves in the pantry for items that we use regularly, but they take weeks or months to go through (like pickles, cocktail sauce, chutney, etc.). Whenever we finish one jar, we open the pantry one and it gets added to the shopping list.

For canned goods and baking items that we buy on sale or in large quantities, I keep the spares in a bedroom closet. When we run out in the kitchen, we bring the dozen cans of beans or 25# bag of flour into the kitchen and then that item goes on the shopping list.

The trick is to train your kids (and your husband) to add to the list. With practice and patience, (How come we're out of ketchup??!!), they learn. And we also use this system for toiletries (just in another storage area).

Anonymous said...

Im a stockpiler. If I have less than 4 of an item i actually get anxious. I feel like we will starve. I have a large pantry so I line it up like a grocery store shelf. In my linen closet I sotckpile deodorant and shampoo etc the same way I do the pantry. The freezer is alittle harder but I put all veggies in one place all meat in another etc. Hope this helps
God bless
Renee

Anonymous said...

My method is a little different because my kitchen is teeny tiny. I have some upstairs storage where I put dry goods that I have stocked up, like peanut butter or brown sugar or velveeta. I also have a small dresser in part of my living area where I stash the items that I probably will need easier access to, and I keep one of each item. When I refill my brown sugar with the bag from that dresser, for example, I go upstairs at some point and get another one for the dresser. If it is my last one in the "pantry", I make a note to buy more. Having two steps before it ends up in my kitchen makes me notice before I run out. I also have a list of things that I must check my stock of before each grocery run - things like eggs, sugar, flour, etc.- basically whatever I assume I have lots of (because usually I do), but have to be sure because there is no substitute.

Lynn said...

I stockpile the amount by the lowest price cycle. For example, baked beans are the lowest price the week of the 4th of July. So, I buy 52 cans every 4th of July. No need to think about that product. Most of the meats are their lowest price every 12 weeks, so I buy 12 week worth and freeze. Once you figure out the lowest price for the top 40 items you use everyday, it gets easier. I have a excel sheet that I would share if you want it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting...I will be back again to read more on this topic.

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