For Smart Couples…Forget the Recession! Learn how to pay 1960's Prices for everything from salad dressing to dressing up for a night out!

ME? ADDICTED TO BARGAIN HUNTING?? NO FREAKIN’ WAY…

As I walked through the grocery store (and Rite Aid, and Target)  today with Mike, I realized it’s VERY easy to go into bargain-hunting overload.

I often find myself analyzing every single loss-leader, sale price, rebate and rollback, and cross examining each item with the gazillion or so coupons I have clipped from newspapers, printed from the internet, and saved from register Catalina offers…all those neurons firing away just to find more awesome deals to stock up on. I even found myself getting mad at Target today just because they were sold out of the 5 count Zantac I could get for free with my high-value $5 off coupon. But wait…I don’t even have allergies!!

It’s easy to go nuts with bargain-hunting. And it can take time. Too much time. It’s very easy to get carried away. When I realized how badly Mike wanted to go home and spend some time with me, just plop down on the couch with a movie and  some tacos (and I was so super-focused on the freebie/cheapie hunt, like a lioness armed with an iPhone and coupons instead of teeth and claws) it inspired me to write this post. I give Mike an A+ for putting up with me today!!!

WHAT IS STOCKPILING?

Hunting for bargains can be fun…adding to your stockpile can be fun. But when does it become too much? When does it start taking up too much of your precious time?

In case you’re not hip to “extreme couponing” lingo, Stockpiling is a term that refers to buying much more than you need at once of a commonly purchased grocery/toiletry/etc. product when you can find it  for free or at a heavily discounted price. “Stocking up” when the price is low means that the next time you run out of said item (say, disposable razors or hot sauce), instead of running to the store and paying full price for what you need you can simply grab the product from your stockpile, and rest easy knowing you paid pennies for it or nothing at all.

This method has proved to be an INCREDIBLE money- saver for us. But you have to do it right. There are WAY too many deals to be had out there, and running around from store to store three times a week is not going to leave you with much of a life!

So…here’s my new method to building my stockpile…I hope it cuts down on the bargain-hunting insanity for me and anyone else who reads this!

FIVE EASY STEPS TO BUILDING A TRULY USEABLE STOCKPILE

  1. Think of your top-ten favorite recipes, the ones you cook time and time again. The ones your family loves, the ones that are tried-and-true, the ones that are relatively easy on your wallet and your time. If they are in cookbooks, or printed out from the internet, gather them together. If they are in your head, take a few minutes to jot them down.

  2. Take a look at the ingredients in these recipes. You will probably notice quite a few repeat performers. On a sheet of paper, write down any and all ingredients that it’s possible to stockpile (pantry/freezable items, mostly).

  3. This will be your new list of grocery items to be on the lookout for sales and coupons. Try not to be brand-fixated!! I go back and forth between brands like nobody’s business. My brand-loyalty lies with whoever can provide the lowest cost to me!! This list of ingredients for your top-ten recipes is your MASTER STOCKPILE LIST. It will help you stay focused on buying what you will really use, instead of chasing every sale and bargain out there.(case in point…I once almost bought three jumbo jars of mayo…even though Mike and I HATE mayo…I only use it if I’m making a macaroni/potato salad for a potluck or picnic or whatnot…needless to say, he talked me out of it!)

  4. When you see any of the items on your list at a great price at your grocery store, look through your coupons, or search an internet coupon database for printable coupons. If you find match-ups with great sale prices and coupons, now is the time to buy!  If the price is right (especially if it’s free!) STOCK UP SISTER!

  5. For toiletries (and cleaning products)…my best advice is (again) to not be brand loyal! I GUARANTEE you that every week, one of your local drugstores has a sale/promotion that you can combine with coupons to get free shampoo/razors/toothpaste/etc., even makeup and hair- dye and medicine. Just wait it out, and when the time is right, pounce! I currently have an embarrassingly large amount of EVERY toiletry/cleaning product imaginable, and I make it a priority to give some away every week to friends and coworkers. And most of it I just paid sales tax for!

MY MASTER STOCKPILE LIST

So, for example, my MASTER STOCKPILE LIST looks something like this: (you can make a similar list for your toiletry/cleaning product needs…because believe me, it is VERY easy to get carried away at the drugstores!)

  • hot sauce

  • bbq sauce

  • tuna

  • canned chicken

  • pasta

  • beans

  • diced green chiles/jalapenos

  • soft flour tortillas

  • cheese (shredded and sliced)

  • ground meat

  • chicken

  • cream of chicken soup

  • cream of mushroom soup

  • french onion soup mix

  • peanut butter

  • chicken stock or broth

  • kielbasa

  • rice

  • beans

  • diced tomatoes/tomato paste

  • salad dressing

  • frozen veggies

  • cupcake/brownie mixes

  • sugar

  • flour

  • cornbread/corn muffin mix

  • olive/vegetable oil

  • pierogies

  • lunchmeat

The list continues, but the point is, these should be the things I focus on when scanning sale ads and coupon inserts/internet coupons. Just because I see a GREAT deal on frozen veggie burger where I could get them for a dollar, doesn’t mean I should waste the ink printing out ten coupons of something we never eat just to take advantage of a sale price! However, when I see that I can get cupcake/brownie mix for 15 cents a box, I buy ten!

What To Do for Items You Rarely/Never Find Coupons For

There are certain products, while they may go on sale, that you’ll rarely see coupons for. Things like fresh fruits/vegetables, meat and staples like flour or vegetable oil. Pantry items like canned chicken or tuna (once in a blue moon I see coupons for these).  In these scenarios, it’s good to be aware of three things:

  1. Know what a good price is for the product, and keep an eye out for great sales (for example, boneless chicken breasts can range from $1.69 per lb to $3.99 per lb, depending on the weekly sales…when are you going to buy it, and buy more than you need for the week and freeze it??)

  2. Know what store consistently has a great price for your product. (Today I needed diced green chiles for my pulled pork…they can be priced as high as $2.09 for a small can at my local grocery store…on sale there they may be down to $1.29…but I know if I go to Big Lots, a national overstock chain, that I can get a slightly larger can of a lesser-known brand for only 80 cents. Since I rarely see coupons for diced chiles, this is where I buy them.

  3. Make it yourself. Some things can be made from scratch at a fraction of the cost of what you would usually pay for them. For example, I make my own seasoning blends for chili/tacos/enchiladas/etc instead of buying them from the store. Homemade chicken/beef stock can be made from the leftovers of an already eaten meal and a few veggies/herbs. Get creative! Try making a loaf of bread! I’ll admit, I’m sooo afraid of trying a yeast bread (even though my mom bought me a neat-o bread machine, but I’m a regular at quick breads like banana and zucchini! Soooo much cheaper than buying them pre-made, or even buying the mix! Examine your MASTER STOCKPILE LIST, and brainstorm ideas of what you can make for yourself. (If you’re paying $2 a box for a serving of mashed potatoes that feeds maybe two people, it’s time to invest in a ten lb bag of potatoes for $2.50…unless you can get them for free with a coupon, then by all means, give yourself a break if you really like the taste!) You can even make your own cleaning products…I’ll be providing some GREAT natural recipes (safe for children and pets) that really work in an upcoming post.

What About Produce?

With gas prices rising all the time, produce is at an all time high. That’s because most of the fruits/veggies your grocery store stocks are from places far, far away (far away=more gas to get to said Venezuelan veggies to you=higher price paid by consumer). So BUY LOCAL. Local produce is cheaper, tastes MUCH better, and is healthier for you. Plus is supports local farmers and often sustainable agriculture. Go to your local farmer’s market, hit up a neighbor with a green thumb, or start your own garden. Your wallet will thank you for it!!! (More on this in an upcoming post!!!)

What Can I Freeze?

When you find things at an awesome price, you can stockpile them in your freezer for future use! If you have the space, an inexpensive deep freezer in your basement can save you TONS of money on meat/cheese/bread, and pay for itself in the blink of an eye.

A short list of freezable items: (Just be sure meat is portioned outside it’s originally packaging, and everything is sealed TIGHT to prevent freezer burn)

  • meat

  • lunch meat

  • bread

  • tortillas

  • milk (yes, you can! Just spill a bit out of the full bottle, it expands when it freezes.)

  • cheese (except soft cheeses like ricotta, freezing will dramatically change the consistency)

  • fresh herbs (put them in an ice cube tray, f ill with water, and voila! add to soups that call for them when the mood strikes you!)

  • fresh veggies (cut, slice, dice or chop, and seal tight in freezer baggies, a vacuum sealer is ideal for the freshest taste)

  • grapes

  • bananas (i freeze overripe ones to use later in banana bread…they’re perfect!)

  • bagels/English muffins

  • leftovers (esp. soups, chile, lasagna, casseroles)

  • Sauces (like homemade pesto…freeze in ice-cube trays like the herbs for fresh pesto all year long)

Hope this helped a little with focusing on a Stockpile and how to do it! I know my guy will be happy with the extra time we can spend together as a result of a more streamlined, focused bargain-hunting list! Happy Stockpiling!!

PS…Don’t forget to rotate your stockpile!!! Items that have been there the longest go up front so you use them first, new items go in the back!! 🙂

Any ideas I missed here? Feel free to comment…I’m always on the lookout for new ways to save…

Advertisements

Comments on: "Why Stockpile? Better yet, WHAT to Stockpile? Semi-Extreme Couponing for the Rest of Us…" (5)

  1. Thanks for the stockpiling info, I am not quite there yet, but working on it. I have a problem keeping up with all of my coupons, what I have, exp. dates, etc. How do you keep up on your coupon inventory? Also, did you get the email with my address? Thanks!

    • Yes I did get your address, I'm working on a nice box o goodies for you…do you think it's ok for me to send in the mail with just your first name?? I've never done that before, although I'm sure it will be fine. Thanks for reading and commenting!!

    • As far as coupon organizing goes…the easiest way is to just file all your coupon circulars (try to get multiple inserts so you can stock up on great deals) of the same date (without cutting any of the coupons out) into a plastic sheet organizer and putting a stick- on label on the front (ex. Redplum 7/17). Then, I would do coupon matchups myself based on sale ads I get in the mail or visit coupon matchup sites on the internet…i’m working on providing some coupon matchups on Frugal for Two. The sites always tell you the date of the circular you need to find the coupon for the product and the provider (smartsource, redplum, P&G, etc), so then it’s easy to go into your filed coupons and just clip the ones you need. If you’re super-serious you can clip all the coupons and organize them in a binder with plastic baseball card holders, or I like to use cheap photo albums that have 3 photo pockets per page. It all depends how much time you have to put into it!!

      • I’ll be doing two regular posts (for national chains like Giant Eagle, Target, Rite Aid)…5 Things You Can Get for Free This Week, and 10 Things You Can Get for Under $1…I just want to highlight the best deals rather than have everyone wade through a mess of not-so-great deals, so I hope that will help you out!! Feel free to email me with any questions! What supermarkets are in your area, I might be able to point you to another regional blog or website that does coupon matchups for your local grocery stores.

  2. Sorry, I meant, did you get my physical address?

What do you think? Join in the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: