Monday, October 31, 2011

Extreme Couponing and Stockpiling: What it is and What it Isn’t

On a good day, I use coupons to save 40% or more on my grocery bill. I  buy fresh ingredient type foods, green products, and cook from scratch. I wrote about How to Extreme Coupon for Healthy Food on my green living and DIY blog Condo Blues.



















An "extreme" Meijer shopping trip. The regular price is $65.60. I spent $38.08. I saved 42% on my total.


I have better luck finding coupons for the things we buy on my Condo Blues printable coupon database (affiliate) than in the Sunday paper. Not everything we need goes on sale/coupon and I’m OK with that. The money I save using coupons I put toward something that doesn't go on sale/seasonal splurge like buying produce at my summer farm market - now closed until next June, boo hoo.

Another piece of my money saving puzzle is to buy the items we use on sale (preferably with a coupon for additional savings) before we need them. They call this stockpiling.  If you live in a tornado, hurricane, earthquake or other area prone to natural disasters then the idea of having a few extra things on hand just in case is not new to you.  

Or if you hate to drive to the grocery store after a blizzard when the roads are still knee deep in snow and ice. Raises hand!

Unlike what TV shows want you to believe, stockpiling is NOT cramming your basement with as much cheap food as you can get your hands on.

Couponing and stockpiling is like Ma Ingalls canning and preserving food in the summer when her garden is plentiful. She doesn’t pick a few vegetables for August meals and lets the rest of the garden rot come October. She cans and stores that food in August for October and beyond.   

Ma most likely won’t have to run to the store several times a week or month to buy staple items (at full price) when she runs out because she already has them in her pantry (purchased at less than full price.)

Stockpiles should grow slowly because you’re only buying a few extra if it’s on sale and only if you need it. 

It also needs to be said that just because an item is on super mega sale/coupon/deal and you can get buy it cheap, it doesn’t mean you should. If you can’t or won’t use it before it spoils you’ll save more money by not buying it at all.

How Much Food Should I Stockpile?

How many extra items you need to keep on hand depends upon:
  • Family size
  • The type of items you use and their sale cycles (Some items go on sale only once a year, others every few months.)
  • Goals
Some families like to have lots of extras so they can to donate to charities or allow friends and family to “shop” their stash. Other families keep extra food stored for religious purposes or in case of natural disasters. I wrote about my method on Condo Blues in How to Make Things Last. My family is small, we don't go through most things quickly, so the "crazy" stock up like the 4 bottles of plant based dish soap I have on hand now will last us well over a year (I use the dishwasher at every opportunity over hand washing.) The same amount might be a 4 month supply or less for large family who doesn't have a dishwasher.

You can apply sales, coupons, and stockpiling to items other than food. For example, I bought a cart full of winter fabric when it was on clearance at the fabric store last summer to sew Christmas gifts for our large extended family. I saved $200.00 by shopping early and when the fleece fabric was on sale during the summer. This also gives me more time to make the gifts before the holiday (8 down, 7 more to go!)

Hoo boy, that's a lot of fabric! It may look like hoarding but this is enough fabric to make 17  pairs of fleece pajama pants to give as Christmas gifts. I'll use the scraps to make dog toys. Please excuse the photo quality I took the photo with my Blackberry. 

Do you want to see it?

Come on, I know you do.

Expert coupon people say you should never your stockpile, stash, pantry, extras or whatever you want to call it because people will think you are a greedy hoarder. I’m ready to take that risk. I’m sure many of you already think less of me for admitting I use coupons and have a stash of extra items. I don't think I have much more to lose.

Ready?




We aren't stockpiling Spiderman. He jumps around the house and appears in
 unexpected places because we are dorks.

Sorry to disappoint you that it’s not a bunker of free stuff. Actually, none of it is free stuff (my sales tax is 6.7%) with the exception of the tea. Salada Tea sent me a year’s worth of green tea when they chose me as their Salada Tea GreenSpotlight last year. I can't believe we still have some left because I switch over to tea midday after my first gallon of coffee.

My goal is buy the healthy items we use at less than full price, not to spend zero dollars for a cart full of processed crap food and candy bars. In theory. There are two bags of Terra Chips in the stash – hey, we’re human J.

Some of these items aren't being saved for later. They are I don’t have enough cupboard space so I stashed it here because we don’t use it often items such as like Husband’s Sodastream syrups (affiliate link) the starches,  baking items, and cleaners. 

The freezer! Lisa must have an over packed freezer of cheap processed crap food in her freezer!





















Actually this is too many extras for us because of the garden produce. We're concentrating on eating from the pantry and freezer for awhile. Good thing. The money we saved by not needing to grocery shop went toward an emergency vet bill.

There are frozen vegetables, berries, and herbs from our garden and summer markets, 10 jars of pumpkin butter (post to come), home made bread (testing out my November One Small Green Change) as well as frozen chicken, fish, and backup store bought vegetables (when we run out of fresh for soups, etc.) because I live in Ohio – Land of Nothing Grows Here During Winter.

Because I am being all True Confessions Afternoon, there is usually one package of turkey meatballs, or cheese ravioli shoved in the back of the freezer to pair with a homemade sauce in order to avoid fast food on the quarterly too busy to cook real dinner evenings. You most likely don't know what I'm talking about there because you are more organized than I am.

I’m surprised that I’m more of a seasonal shopper after I started selective couponing and stockpiling than I thought I was before. Now that I have extras on hand my grocery shopping trips aren't as frequent and big as they used to be - which saves me both time and money. I think it is smart shopping over extreme anything as long as you don’t get to crazy or obsessed. The only issue is that everyone has his or her own definition of what constitutes crazy and obsessed.

How do you save money on groceries?


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