The Joys of Stocking Up

My wife is a creature of habit – in a good way. She gets up at 5:30 am every day except Saturday so that she can enjoy a healthy breakfast of oatmeal (always from scratch — never instant!) and walnuts, along with a cup or two of her favorite coffee. For at least the past six or seven years, my wife has started each day with a pot of Seattle’s Best Hazelnut Cream Coffee. My elder son shares my wife’s coffee tastes, so we usually end up brewing at least two pots of it each day.

If you have a morning routine, you know how important it can be. You also will understand why I am so concerned that by the end of this week we may be out of Seattle’s Best Hazelnut Cream Coffee!

About six months ago, my wife’s coffee was on sale at our local Publix. I believe the sale price was buy one, get one free, so the savings on an approximately $8 package of coffee was substantial. I purchased about sixty packages of coffee that week. My wife was appalled at first, because I only started exploring the value of bulk purchasing at the beginning of 2008. My wife saw 60 packages of coffee (about 45 pounds!) and thought I was spending $240 more than I needed to spend.

I had a different view. I knew that after watching my wife and son drink the same coffee for more than half a decade, they were not likely to change brands or flavors any time soon. Given the savings, I knew that the sixty packages would eventually be used and that I would be saving $240 by the time the coffee was all gone.

I also knew that by stocking up on coffee at the best rate that I was likely to find for that particular brand, I was saving myself the effort of having to purchase a package or two every week for about half a year. Thus, by stocking up, I was saving more than money. I was also saving time.

My wife now shares my views on the benefits of stocking up. We are down to our last twelve ounces of SBC in the hazelnut cream flavor. That is enough to last us another five or six days. Of course, I could purchase another package of it – if I could find it. We have looked in several stores in our area and all of them have been sold out of my wife’s flavor for the past several weeks. I can only assume that it was a popular holiday flavor. I am sure that we will find a way to buy more of it before we run out but now I know that when I am stocking up on any item, I am going to make sure I buy enough to see me through the holidays.

I have been stocking up on every item that our house uses regularly. So far, I have only made one major mistake when I stocked up on an item that we later discovered to include trans-fats, which we exclude from our pantry. Other than that, our pantry and cupboards are beginning to look like a warehouse store, as we stock up on every item that we know we will use. Because we have so many of the items that we buy in bulk (especially “BOGO” deals), we naturally try to use those items even more regularly and thus we are more likely to build meals based on the items that offer us the best deals. We also spend less time shopping because we always have a ready supply of our non-perishable staples and, when local stores run out of our staples, we do not need to worry about not having them nearly as much as would be the case if we bought them from week to week regardless of price.

What is your philosophy on stocking up? Are you willing to lay in a six or twelve month supply of a product just because it is on sale? How do you manage to store products that you purchase in bulk? Are there any times when you think it is a bad idea to stock up?

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25 Responses to The Joys of Stocking Up

  1. Ariel says:

    I would NEVER stock up on coffee. I stock up on plenty of items, but coffee really doesn’t retain its quality well for a long period of time. Instead, I would ask for a raincheck (let the store know that they are out of some flavors) and get some more later.

    Yick. Old coffee.

  2. UrbanFrugal says:

    Stocking up is wonderful! If an item won’t spoil, and it is a good price and I will use it then I will buy in bulk or large quantities. It’s only a deal if I will use it. Each year after Christmas a couple of stores sell their lotions, bath gels, creams and soaps for wonderful prices. I try to combine any extra discounts if I can and then stock up. While it may seem as though I will never use up all of the beauty products I buy, I generally have very little left by late August. Then I make a few purchases to tide me over until Christmas and the cycle begins again.

    I don’t do this with items I know will spoil because then I end up throwing money away!

  3. princessperky says:

    If I have an item I use it, so I try only to stock up on items I feel are healthy, and good to eat more of.

    Even if it does save to buy more bags of chocolate when on sale, we try not to.

    On the other hand, most foods I make with whole wheat flour are healthy, so we could stock up..if it ever went on sale.

  4. Erica says:

    These are great ideas – even better is buying in bulk and saving all that needless packaging.

    I just wish there was a similar way to save for those of us who live in apartments and don’t have giant pantries/storage facilities.

  5. mom-from-missouri says:

    I stock up so much my husband calls my downstairs pantry the store or the emporiem..

  6. Persephone says:

    I love to stockup! It saves money and more importantly time. I stockup on food, hair and makeup products, potential gift items and wrapping paper. Several years ago I bought twelve Williams Sonoma cookie jars ($5.00 each on clearance.) Over the years they made lovely gifts for my childrens’ teachers. I also had a similar experience with hostess gifts. I bought many boxes of liqueur glasses at Bombay Co. at some ridiculously low price and now I always have a gift on hand. Another favorite I like to stock pile is Aveda hair products. I do so whenever they are offering double reward points. I’m closing in on enough reward points for a lavish spa get away.

  7. Ralph says:

    Expiration dates can kill you! We have found that salad dressing especially can get old on you if you’re not careful.

  8. lizajane says:

    I don’t have a huge amount of storage so I don’t stockpile like crazy, but I will buy some extras if it’s a great deal.

    I’ve bought salad dressing reduced when it was close to or at its expiration date, and put it in the cupboard for another several weeks or even months. I’ve never notice a change in flavor.

  9. Michelle says:

    I do like stocking up when I see my favorite things are on sale – and especially when I have a coupon. One thing I’ve noticed going on sale lately is chicken stock. And when I see it on sale, it goes in my cart and I try to find a corresponding coupon to go with it. 🙂

  10. Ann says:

    I stock up on paper items, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, laundry supplies etc. but it’s actually for a couple of reasons. Yes, I take advantage of sales but I also am no longer fond of shopping and avoid it whenever possible!

    I am in constant pain and have trouble walking (long story and not all that relevant), so I’d rather simply go twice a year or less and stock up. Yes, my hall closet is stacked with 24 roll packs of toilet paper and laundry stuff and the drawers in the bath are filled with soap and toothpaste, but I’m able to avod the (literal) pain of shopping. LOL

    Shopping less frequently also helps to cut down on impulse buys. First, because I’m not in the stores every week (except the veggie section) and, second, because there’s no room in the art for impulse items!

  11. Ann says:

    Dang! Wish you could edit comments after you post! LOL I hate it when I read a comment of mine and realize, after the fact, that I’ve misspelled “avoid” or left the “c” off of “cart.” I need to get better at proofreading before I post!

  12. David G. Mitchell says:

    Yesterday, I bought 108 packages of frozen spinach (enough for 108 days since we eat one package per day for 108 days).

    Normal price is $1.19 per package. On sale for 75 cents per package, plus I was able to use two $10 coupons. Total price at the register was $60 for all of them, a savings of more than 50%! Well worth the initial cost, and I will get an extra $2 back in the form of rebate from my credit card (which I shall pay off at the end of the month, anyway.)

  13. Myrna Garren says:

    I stockpile on a regular basis. It saves time and money. With flavored coffee I add regular coffee grounds to cut the cost. If you have a freezer you can extend the freshness of your prebought coffee.

  14. Ann says:

    David just reminded me — I also stock up on frozen items and sales on meats. The meats are often in large packages — 2 foot long pork loins, for example — that I cut down to the size I use, vacuum pack and freeze. There’s one store near me that makes things like that really worthwhile! Very, very seldom does any of it go to waste.

    I also have 2 refrigerators and take advantage of farmers’ markets/stands out here. There are a lot of veggies that will last for a long time properly packaged in a cool environment. For instance, last week I cooked a spaghetti squash that’s been in there for about 3 months and looked as good as the day it went in.

  15. Spicoli says:

    i agree,

    usually i like to buy in bulk because i am a member of COSTCO.

    Thanks for another great article!

  16. I stock pile also, and I do stock up on coffee when it is on sale and I was always told to retain the coffee for long periods of time to keep it sealed and in the freezer. When you open a can it still is fresh. I might be wrong , but my grandparents are in their 90’s and they have always done this. We lived way out in the country when I was growing up and they always did grocery shopping once a month and had to stock up and always kept new cans of coffee in the freezer. All though they never bought hundreds of cans!

  17. Gail says:

    I try to stock up on just about everything we will use over the course of the winter except for fresh items. I have a huge pantry and keep it full. Today we had to dig out from the snow due to needing to go to the bank, so I stopped in at the grocery store for fresh milk, salad and fruit. BUT I could have gone a long time without stopping in if needed. I’m with Ann, in that shopping can be a literal pain for me, so I try to get as much ahead as possible–not only does it save time and money, but I don’t have to worry when a big storm heads our way–we always have plenty of food and I never go into a winter without enough toilet paper in storage to last till spring! My ace in the hole is my son who will pick up stuff if needed for me if I can’t get out.

  18. Susan says:

    I love to read the Comments, I learn so much. I am especially impressed with eating spinach on a daily basis. I considered that quite a while ago and prefer to sautee the spinach in a little olive oil with finely chopped garlic. It makes it taste like the fresh version and yet still really good for you at a fraction of the cost. There is a way to eat vegetables everyday without breaking the bank!

  19. Ann says:

    Gail, I had to laugh at your comment ’cause I had decided to mention that, with the way our winter is going, it’s REALLY handy to have a well-stocked freezer an pantry! LOL It’s minus 17 here and I am sooooooo happy that I don’t need to leave the house for any reason. Plus, with municipalities having money problems (problems affording the salt and sand) and us setting record snow levels for this time of the year, streets stay a little more slippery a little longer out here and I can wait until it’s not a problem stopping, going up a hill or down a hill.

    I do love my well-stocked setup!

  20. Carol says:

    I read something on Dollar Stretcher that gave me a new perspective on “stocking-up”. It said to be careful about buying too many extra items because that’s the same as money sitting on your pantry shelf. If you can afford to do that fine, but you don’t want to run short in an emergency and put something on a credit card. Now I plan to just buy one or two extra items if something is on sale instead of a warehouse full like I usually do.

  21. David G. Mitchell says:

    Susan – We also like to saute spinach in olive oil. We have also very much enjoyed combining frozen spinach with diced tomatoes (fresh or canned) and garlic. By cooking the tomato a bit, more lycopene is released, making the tomatoe even healthier for us. As nutrition goes, spinach with tomato, garlic and olive oil is hard to beat!

  22. Ann says:

    Side note on the spinach, just in case you hadn’t heard/read of it. Supposedly, there’s something in it that can slow down/prevent macular degeneration.

    Started eating more of it myself ’cause I have Drusen’s optic nerve — not the same, but I figure it’s close enough and can’t hurt and doc’s have no idea what causes Drusen’s, makes it stop or makes it worse! Combine it with the lycopene in tomatoes and it really is a winning combination.

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  25. rss says:

    Stocking up is a great way to save money…but I find we must be careful not to use more of something…simply because we have alot of it.

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