As I read frugal and financial blogs and discuss money-saving tactics with people, I have noticed two distinct frugal grocery styles. People tend to be either stocker-uppers or week-to-weekers. Both have well thought-out reasons for their thinking. I am definitely in the stocker-upper camp. Let me tell you why!
Stocking Up is Responsible
I have always been taught that having food storage is important. Food is pretty important to, you know, survival, so it just makes sense to be prepared. I want to have food to feed my family should any crazy circumstance befall us. If there is a natural disaster, or we are stuck at home due to a storm or illness, or there is a trucker strike and food prices double, or we suddenly don’t have an income for an extended period of time, having food storage would calm bellies and nerves while we figured out our next game plan.
I could come up with all sorts of crazy “what-if” scenarios, but honestly I am not stocking up because I am scared. I feel that being prepared is part of my responsibility to my family.
Stocking Up Allows for Flexibility
Many people plan a weekly menu, then shop specifically for the ingredients to make the meals on their menus. Having food storage allows you to be flexible with that menu plan. I don’t know about you, but my food mood often changes from the time I make a menu to the time I need to prepare dinner. Having options is freeing. And it will definitely relieve some stress to know you have plenty of food on hand when unexpected guests knock at the door.
You not only have flexibility about what you eat (and who you share it with), but you can be flexible about when you go shopping. Since our cupboards aren’t bare, I don’t have to stress about getting to the store on Monday because we have no food in the house. If something more exciting comes up or I just plain don’t feel like shopping, I don’t have to.
Stocking Up Saves Money
Ahh, saving money. The part you were waiting for. The three main ways I save money by stocking up are buying in bulk, buying in season and buying on sale. Stocking up to save money, might sound counter-intuitive. Stocking up sounds expensive.
The idea is, if you stock up on what’s on sale, in season, and cheaper in bulk, you won’t need to buy those items again for a long time. As you transition into a system of always buying in bulk, in season, and on sale, you won’t have to buy everything every time. You will just buy things at great prices and very little at full price. To help illustrate these principles, let me describe the SixFiguresUnder household grocery shopping plan.
I grocery shop once a month (remember how we live in the boonies?). I don’t make my grocery list according to a menu plan. Instead, I keep a running list of things we are almost out of (or will be out of in the next month or so). There are some things that make the list just about every month like milk and cheese.
We mostly cook from scratch, so most of my pantry staples are ingredients like flour/wheat, sugar, beans, rice, oats, and pasta. I also buy different fruits and veggies depending on what is in season (meaning the best price) and what we having coming out of our garden.
After buying what we need to replenish our fridge and pantry, as well as seasonal fruits and veggies, the rest of the budget goes to stocking up. Sale prices fluctuate weekly and seasonally. Once you get ahead of the game and have enough staples in your pantry to live on for a month or so, you can focus on buying things only when they are a great price. If you keep on top of things, you won’t have to pay full price very often.
Here are a few examples:
- When peanut butter is on sale for a good price, I buy 10 to 20 jars, depending on how good the price is. We eat a lot of peanut butter, so I am never worried about having more than we can eat.
- The best time of year to buy chocolate chips is around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I watch for a good sale around the holidays and buy a year’s supply of chocolate chips (mmm). We have never had a problem getting through chocolate chips either (now, rationing is a different story).
- When pears are in season and selling for rock-bottom prices at the local orchard, I spend $40 and buy 150 lbs of pears (or more). We will eat them fresh for several weeks. I ‘ll also can dozens of jars of pear halves and pear puree, and we’ll freeze some pears halves for smoothies.
A Stock Up Challenge
If you have been a week-to-weeker when it comes to grocery shopping, try setting aside a portion of your grocery budget to stock up on sale items or buy something in bulk. Consider starting with items that you eat regularly. Even a few items a week will help build your food storage, which will help you be prepared and flexible and will save you money at the same time! Are you up for it?
If you are a stocker-upper, keep up the good work! What are your favorite things to buy in bulk? Have you found some incredible deals to stock up on? What other stocking up tips do you have?
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