Frugal Living - Stockpiling to Save Money

Stockpiled Food
Stockpiled Food

We Were Caught up in the Boom

I was raised living frugally, we never went hungry, but money was always tight and my mom knew how to stretch a dollar. She always shopped the sales, and would buy only what was on sale at each store. My mom also kept a stockpile to save money on food.

In the late 90s my husband and I bought a house. We both had pretty good paying jobs and as real estate values escalated, like a lot of people, we were feeling pretty prosperous. Our spending habits reflected our new attitude and we were living "high on the hog" as my grandma used to say.

Now that our house is worth maybe a third of what it once was, and our income and net worth have fallen with the fortunes of the country, we have rediscovered our frugal ways. One thing that was easy for us to cut back on was the cost of food. We don't eat any less now, in fact we probably eat better than we did before, but we're spending 1/3 or less of what we were spending before on food.

Eating Out is Expensive!

Fancy restaurant meal
Fancy restaurant meal | Source

Live Frugally, Eat at Home

The most obvious way to save money on food is to stop eating at restaurants. We used to have a nice dinner out at least once a week, and anytime we felt hungry when we were away from home, hey just stop somewhere for a bite. We have cut way back on eating out, and that goes for that morning cup of coffee at Starbucks too. I take my lunch to work, no more lunchroom vending machines either, that $1.50 a day doesn't seem like much, but it really adds up.

A High Cabinet in the Garage Keeps Supplies Safe

Cleaning supplies and other household goods
Cleaning supplies and other household goods

When an Item is on Sale Stock Up

Buying canned food and dry goods when they're on sale can really save you money. Many items are discounted on a six week cycle, so by six weeks worth to get the most bang for your buck.

When you see an item you know you're going to use, and it's significantly discounted, why not buy a case of it instead of a just a few cans? After all, you're not going to stop eating are you?

  • Make sure the foods you stock up on are things you like and consume regularly.
  • If you don't have a big chunk of money to spend, start small and stock up on one item at each shopping trip.
  • Shop at discount stores like Sam's Club, Costco, and Winco. Make sure to check the prices though, to make sure you're really getting a bargain.
  • Make sure to use the oldest stuff first. Even canned goods don't last forever.
  • Don't go overboard on items like crackers and cereal, a couple of extra boxes is enough. Those things tend to get stale if you keep them around too long.

Here are some of the items I like to keep in my stockpile

Dry goods
Rice, Beans, Pasta, Crackers
Coffee, Tea Bags

Canned food
Beef, Chicken, Corned Beef, Tuna
Soup, Chicken Broth
Green Beans, Peas, Mushrooms
Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce,
Tomato Paste
Chili, Pork and Beans
Fruit Cocktail, Peaches, Pineapple
Condensed Milk

Bottles and Jars
Artichoke Hearts
Peanut Butter, Jam
Catchup, Mayonnaise, Salad Dressing
Cooking Oil
Barbecue Sauce

Having a Stockpile is Convenient

Another upside to stockpiling is that it reduces those extra trips to the store to get some missing ingredient. It's so handy to just go out to the garage, basement or whatever. Besides, it saves on fuel.

I think a six month supply is a pretty good goal to shoot for. You will soon see which items move off your shelves quickly and which need to be restocked less often. Once your stockpile is in place you will be pleased to see how little you have to spend on your regular shopping trips.

Make sure you store your extra food in a cool, dry place. Some sturdy shelving will come in handy. Cans are pretty safe in the garage, but your dry goods are probably better off in the house. If you must store some of them in the garage, make sure they are secure as they can attract pests. Large plastic tubs with lids can help protect your supplies from moisture and are easy to stack.

Don't Underestimate the Value of an Emergency Food Supply

In our area we often have extended power outages in the winter. Having a good supply of food on hand can be a great advantage during a power failure or disaster situation. Even if you don't want to have a big stockpile like mine, I think it's a good idea to keep a pantry stocked with a couple of weeks worth of food.

Some Thoughts About Couponing

Coupons are very popular these days, I myself have not caught the bug, but I know people who have who do quite well with them. It seems like you have to put in a lot of effort, but if you're willing you can get some great deals.

The only thing I notice is that couponers sometimes will buy something like 5 years worth of body wash just because they have a great coupon. If you weren't going to buy it anyway, you really aren't saving any money, also it is taking up valuable real estate in your stockpile. Be careful about stocking up too much on lotion, the oils in it go rancid after a while and it starts to smell funny.

Grow Your Own Food

Even if you don't have much land, it is usually possible to grow at least some of your own food. Where I live the growing season is short, and the soil is poor, but still each summer we grow more tomatoes than we can possibly ever eat. It doesn't take much space, time or energy, and the tomatoes are so much better than those pale flavorless things you get in the supermarket.

Home Grown Tomatoes, Flavor Money Can't Buy

Home grown vegetables
Home grown vegetables

Freeze and Can

If you keep it well stocked, buying a freezer is well worth the price, and it will soon pay for itself. There was a time when I thought canning was out of the question, it just seemed like too much work and I didn't have the time or interest to do it. But with all the fresh tomatoes we have as fall approaches, after we have eaten our fill of the fresh ones, it seemed a shame to let them rot on the ground.

I have always made big batches of fresh salsa in the summer time. It's a big hit with my friends and family. So I started small with canning some salsa. It was kind of addicting, it wasn't as hard as I had imagined, and it made me so happy seeing my pretty little jars on the shelf. Then I started canning the whole tomatoes. They taste just as much better than the store bought ones as the fresh tomatoes do.

My husband makes a killer spaghetti sauce, and he likes to make 5 gallons at a time in one of those electric turkey roasters. He freezes it in packages just big enough for a dinner with a vacuum sealer that seals it into plastic bags. It's April now, and we are still eating spaghetti sauce made from our tomatoes we grew last summer! It's great for lasagna too.

Home Canned Tomatoes

Home canned tomatoes
Home canned tomatoes | Source

Cook From Scratch

For a while there, I was in the habit of buying lots of convenience foods that seemed like time savers. But I have rediscovered cooking from scratch. It doesn't have to be labor intensive or time consuming. There are plenty of simple dishes you can make that don't take any more time than a box of Hamburger Helper, and they taste better and are better for you.

In some ways our lives have improved since we have been paying more attention to how we spend. My husband has actually become interested in shopping, and even cooking. He loves chasing a deal and can't resist bragging about the bargains he finds, which is fine with me.

Save Money by Stockpiling

Comments 14 comments

Janet Pecoraro 4 years ago

OMG, great hub! I still stockpile today; when we were in Boulder Bay I had the basement to store food. I never run out of food, paper towels, shampoo, etc. In fact, I love that my kids will come and "shop" at my house when they are short of funds. And of course, I don't charge them. I've recently dug out my cast iron and added to my pots, to get away from prepared food. I'm also baking bread. Thanks for writing and sharing this's my favorite so far!

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Hi Janet, I also cook with cast iron, the same I had down at the ranch. My kids "shop" at my house too, well mostly Sarah does. Thanks for commenting, and continuing to read my hubs.

Sandy Frost profile image

Sandy Frost 4 years ago from India

Yes, I do agree. Usually, it is not noticed that how much extra cash we're spending on our eating habits when we relate these expenses to some cost-saving methods. Whether we apply them or not but this is fact that we can save 50% of extra bucks or more by cutting costs in such ways mentioned in this hub.

Well, thanks for writing this great hub. :) Voted up.

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Sandy Frost, thanks for your comment. When money is plentiful, or we feel like it is, it certainly is easy to get lazy and form extravagant spending habits. It's amazing how much less we really need than we think.

Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

Hi Sherry ... some great ideas here.

We don't each much tinned food ... just baked beans, which is just as well as we don't have much storage room.

But I have just planted up a veg garden and am really interested to find that you can grow great tomatoes on poor ground and a short season. (They are the only thing I tend to spend good money on as I like the small, sweet expensive ones at the supermarket). So it will be interesting how mine grow this year :)

I always cook from scratch too ... waaaay too much funny stuff in convenience food, and I'm interested in staying healthy and trying to avoid being any fatter ;(

And you're right, it is cheaper too.

Just can't get my old man to do much cooking though ... can you write a hub on how to do that please? ... lol.

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