A properly stocked pantry saves money, the trick is knowing how to create a strong one.
I was cleaning out my pantry this week and thought I’d share how I organize it, in case you are new to the pantry stockpile game.
It’s one of the main ways I’ve been able to save so much money on my groceries every month.
But, if you’re new to the concept of stocking up, how do you know where to start? Which items are the ones that will save you the most money?
When do these items go on sale? Where in the world do you find the space to stock up if you struggle with limited storage space?
If any of these questions sound familiar, this post is for you.
When I lived in a small 700 sq. ft. apartment in my early years of marriage, storing sale items was a constant struggle. The kitchen was never going to be big enough to store 50 boxes of cereal and my bathroom cupboard could not house 5 packs of toilet paper at once.
But, I kept tweaking my storage to fit my needs until I created a space to hold all of my stock up items…and started to save time and money from then on.
Here’s what I learned.
1- You don’t have to get 50 of the same item
You’ve probably watched people who do extreme couponing and thought it looked cool, but the reality is that you don’t need 50 items of the same thing….ever.
Items have a sale cycle, about every 4-6 weeks you’ll see a sale on those items, which gives you a chance to regularly stock up. There is no need to clutter your house, just buy enough to last you until the next sale.
2- You can stock up-even when you live in an apartment
Of course you have to be creative, but it’s totally doable. When I was in an apartment, I had a coat closet that was acting as a huge junk drawer, haha.
After cleaning it out, I realized most of the items in that closet were clutter and the items I needed could be stored somewhere else.
Once I freed up the closet, I went to the hardware store, had one the employees cut down a MDF (which essentially a large scrap piece of wood) into shelves, which costed about $30.
It took about 30-40 minutes to nail the shelves in place and my stock up closet was ready to go.
If you don’t have a full closet that you can re-purpose, think about emptying out 1 cabinet, use the space under your bed, even put a small shelving unit in the patio or balcony (but don’t get something too big that its an eye sore).
3-Stock up on items you already use
Don’t stock up on items just because they are on sale. I’ve done this, I bought items “to try” since they were on sale.
But, I ended up not liking them, which meant I either had to store them so I didn’t feel guilty about throwing them out or I had to throw them out and lose money.
Stick to items you know you like and will use regularly.
4- Know your prices
It’s important that when you are building your stock, that you pay attention to your items and stock up only when they are at the lowest price.
It defeats the purpose when you stock up on something that’s on sale if next week the price drops even lower.
*Remember, the key is to get the lowest price possible.
5-Understand your “Why”
This is an important part of stocking up that many people don’t think about. Understanding why you are stocking up in the first place will not only give you clarity in your journey, it will also help you stay in control of how much you’re stocking up.
We are not stocking up to fill our cabinets and freezers. We are stocking up to save money and time in our daily life.
Therefore, when we buy an item, it must truly serve a purpose in our goal. Is it saving me money? Do I need this item? How often do I use this item?
These questions should be answered when buying any item. Otherwise, what happens (and it happened to me) is that the sales will make you a crazy consumer and you’ll end up wanting to buy anything and everything just because it is a good deal.
Your “Why” will keep you in line. It will keep you focused on your goal. Keep your “Why” close by my friends!
6-Keep a small amount of your food/personal care budget aside for stock-ups.
This will help you stay within budget. I usually keep about $20 per week that I use to stock up, that way I can regularly stock up on items I need when they go on sale.
Also, I’m not spending EXTRA money on stocking up, if I’m buying food, it should come from my food budget. Keep it simple so it is easy to maintain the stock up spending.
Well, how do you start to stock up?
I’ll tell you what I did. I took out a piece of paper and jotted down all of the items I get on a weekly basis. Items such as string cheese, bread, meat, lunch meat, and cereal made the list.
Then, I went to my ads and started carefully monitoring sales for these items for the first few weeks. Once there was a sale, I wrote down the price of the sale next to my item.
Next, I bought the weekly newspaper to get coupons. You don’t have to do that, I just found that I save a lot more money this way, so buying the paper pays for itself very quickly.
Here’s the best part, I would find a sale and combine it with my coupon. This dropped the price even more, making it the lowest price to stock up.
I would update my item price based on my discounted price. This is how I determined if I was getting a screaming deal.
If you are new to couponing and don’t know how to combine sales to your coupons, or you’re too busy to do all of this, I’ve found that there are wonderful couponing sites that will do all of the leg work for you.
Amazing Resources I use
I personally use Krazy Coupon Lady and Hip2Save when I’m pressed for time. They make it so easy. I just enter in the item I’m looking to buy and they tell me where I can get it at its lowest that week.
Or I enter in the store I’m going to shop at and they give me the best deals at that store. They have local chains and national chains, so it works for most people.
What items are good stock items?
I find that items with a long shelf life are the best to stock up on.
Here are some examples: laundry detergent, dish washing soap, paper towels, toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, other personal care items, flour, sugar, canned goods, etc.
Over the years, I’ve saved so much on these items because I stocked up.
If you have a small chest freezer or plan on getting one soon, you can also stock up on cheese, bread, and meats! I love doing this, it saves me so much at the end of each month.