When is it Worth it to Stock Up?

by Katy on August 28, 2015 · 21 comments


The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

One of the basic tenets of frugality is to stock up on needed items when they’re on sale/cheap and then shop from your stash, instead of needing to run out to pay full price.

But this is not always practical or advisable. If your money is being spent stocking up on household supplies, then it’s not available for immediate needs such as paying bills, backup emergency funds or charitable giving. Plus, it takes up a lot of space to store all this stuff.

I am not someone who keeps a huge stash of sale items filling up my pantry. A) I have no pantry, and B) that’s just not my personality. But there are ways that I do stock up.

Items that I stock up on are those that have a long shelf life and are at a rock bottom price. Examples would be 2-pound blocks of Tillamook cheese for $3.99 or $1 jars of jam. Essentially though, it needs to be a loss leader or close to it for me to bother with buying much extras. I will not buy something just because it’s cheap or free. It has to be something I would normally buy. So no weird products, and minimal packaged food. Even if I have a coupon.

One method to efficiently stock up on groceries that I don’t take advantage of is to use a freezer. Yes, I have my above-the fridge freezer, but there’s only so much food that can fit in there. I try to simply not use it as frozen food storage, and it’s usually filled with extra loaves of bread, individually frozen chicken breasts and bits of this and that.

Another time that I stock up on food or household goods, is when the item is bought in a speciality store that I only visit infrequently. This can be the rice wine vinegar from the Asian market, or the three-packs of soap that I buy at the Dollar Tree store. Buying these items away from the traditional grocery store saves me a lot of money, so it’s worth it to stock up. Plus, it’s a pain in the tuchus to run out of these items, so I like knowing that I’m set for awhile.

Are you the type of shopper that keeps a deep stash of pantry staples, or do you buy food and other household items as you run out? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Diana Fulmer August 28, 2015 at 8:46 am

By the way, I have found exotic vinegars like rice vinegar and pineapple vinegar and pomegranite vinegar at the dollar store !!! at various times. They have a few other interesting exotic items as well….. I got a 10 pound bag of potatoes in very good condition for $1… some of their other produce is a very good bargain as well. There are great deals to be found there but not everything there is a great deal . love the blog and facebook group and tell others to join .


Cheyanne August 28, 2015 at 9:05 am

I like to have a decent stash of stuff at home (about 2 cupboards full or so) but I learned to not have A TON of stuff because I had rice weevils one time (eeeeek!). I am considering going to the local restaurant supply store to see if I can buy a big bag of dried garbanzo beans at a decent price since I go through about 8 cans of garbanzo beans a week. They’re so easy to cook from the dried bean so I really have no excuse!


Cindy August 28, 2015 at 9:30 am

I am a stocker upper- not survivalist prepper style (dude, those people are crazy)- but enough so that I’m not running out of something. I have a super small pantry, a freezer in the basement and some shelves in the basement. It’s more just because it works for my life right now- we live in a pretty rural area so the closest decent grocery store is at least 30 minutes away so I only really get there twice a month. I also have four kids under 6 so a quick run to the store for a loaf of bread or whatever is NOT an option (we’ll just do without thank you very much). I’m never stressed this way if we get snowed in, if we get the flu, if everyone’s cranky or if I’m just too dang tired- we have what we need here. I’m super picky about the products I use so if I see them on sale I grab five of them (I never know if the sale cycle will match up with my shopping week) and then I just always keep an eye on my favorites. Some days getting out is so much of a hassle it’s a little comforting to know i’ve got a decent stash of toilet paper!


K D August 28, 2015 at 9:34 am

I stock up but not to an extreme. Like you, I just have a regular refrigerator so I can’t store a lot of extra cold/frozen items. I do have some shelves in the basement where I store toilet paper, tissues, and some factory sealed food products. I like to buy when things are at their rock bottom price but I don’t sweat it if I have to pay full price on occasion.


Marilyn August 28, 2015 at 9:34 am

Since my son and daughter are now grown up and no longer live at home, I have had to reconsider how much I want to stock up on things which my husband and I might not use up in a reasonable time. I still stock up on a few items when the price is right, namely toilet paper, my favorite cereal and our favorite jam. I do not have a pantry, but I can now store things in the bedrooms which the kids used to occupy. Our freezer compartment contains several pounds of butter which was on sale, so I guess I do stock up on butter too.


nicoleandmaggie August 28, 2015 at 10:18 am

Deep pantry. Though we don’t seek out sales, just buy an extra or two if the price is especially good. (Or, in the case of Thanksgiving butter sales, lots of extras.)


Isabelle August 28, 2015 at 10:57 am

I have to admit, I am kind of a food hoarder… I seem to be unable to pass up a good deal. And I will buy 10 (or 30…) of it, not 5. We used to have the regular fridge and two chest freezers full to the max. One of the chest freezer broke and I am trying really hard to do without, but the other one is still full (to my defense, we do buy beef by the quarter!). Ahem… I might have sausages stocked at my mom’s house…
And I have a stocked pantry + what is in the kitchen cupboards.
And I have a gigantic stash of soaps, deodorants, toothbrushes, paper towels… Yeah, to much.


WilliamB August 31, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Isabelle – I have been known to buy 30, too.Thanks to an amazing clearance sale + coupon deal that resulted in a price of $.25/bottle, I just had to buy TB cleaner for the first time in 3 years.

I have 17 lbs of butter in the freezer (bought at $2 -2.50/lb).

I have about 40 lbs of flour (King Arthur Flour sale + coupon).

16 lbs of brown sugar (Xmas sale + coupon).

23 bottles of Murphy’s Oil Soap (almost unprecedented sale, plus coupons).

Working down from a high of 75 lbs of rice (brown, long grain white, Asian) now that I’m no longer running half marathons.

So yes, I understand your inclination to buy 10 or 30.


Delorise August 28, 2015 at 11:47 am

I try to have a well stocked supply of items that we use regularly. I try to keep 6 months to 1 year supply of these. I really hate to not take advantage of a great deal. I have relatives that enjoy a good deal and don’t have the store variety that I am fortunate to have- larger town) so I can enjoy my hobby (yep it is a hobby to me) and share the great deals with them. It is a win win situation for me and them.


Tara August 28, 2015 at 12:15 pm

I hate running out of stuff. You always end up running to the shop and buying more than you wanted! x


WilliamB August 31, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Me, too. I always have one extra, even of items I don’t stock up on.


Ruby August 28, 2015 at 3:14 pm

We have a small chest freezer and I stock up on flour, bread mixes, bread, and fish and store that in there. Our pantry is small, but has enough space for several months worth of canned and dry food, so I stock up on pasta, canned tomatoes, tea, coffee, rice, lentils, canned fruit and other good stuff we can make a quick meal with.

I always keep a month’s supply of pet foods and cat litter on hand, along with toilet paper, trash bags and dishwasher detergent. And the bottom drawer in our bathroom is Stash City, as I keep eight or ten bars of soap, several tubes of toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss down there.

We inadvertently stockpiled cleaning products due to keeping supplies under each of the four sinks in the house. It was all bought with coupons and didn’t cost much, but it’ll be a long while before we need liquid dish detergent.


Marcia August 28, 2015 at 3:18 pm

I do not have a lot of space, and my “family” has gone from 6 at one time down to 2, and we don’t eat as much as we did when we were younger. Still, I like to save money,and we live in a heavy winter area, so I do need to keep some emergency supplies on hand. I don’t keep a price book in writing but I do have a good memory for prices. I will buy a case when, for instance, the kind of canned corn I prefer is on sale for .99 a can–normal price is $1.99. This happens only once or twice a year. Ice Cream, however, goes on sale about every 8 weeks (for the kind I prefer) but SOME kind is on sale every week. I buy 3 or 4 “half gallons”–they are not a whole half gallon anymore, but I don’t know what else to call them.) I will buy a couple other brands if I run out but I won’t buy other kinds. I have a small garden, and I live in farming country, so I buy and freeze some things in season. I have a smallish upright freezer in the basement. For toiletries, I keep a small stock, depending on how much of the item I use. I buy one 20 roll package of toilet paper when it’s on sale (and usually I have a coupon also) and if I get down to about 6-7 rolls,I’ll start looking for it to go on sale again. I keep 4-5 bottles of Listerine (coupons seem to come in bunches, so I use them when I can and try not to buy at full price.) Toothpaste–a few, three or four tubes. I will buy a little more when coupons are available during sales. I buy flour and bread flour in 25 # bags, and yeast in 2 # packages. I make 99% of our bread, rolls, pizza dough. I bake most things from scratch–sweets, desserts, muffins, etc. I cook from scratch a LOT. I have a lot of butter in the freezer because I didn’t pay more than $2.69 for any of it. I can’t think of anything (except butter) which I have more than 12 of. I am trying to cut down some on storage for things that are readily available. I would like to buy more in bulk but 15# of rice is enough at once, especially when it’s basmati, and I also have 4 # of brown rice. I don’t use or store many convenience foods, but I do like Rice-A-Roni even though it’s not frugal!!
I try to remain moderate in all things, but my budget allows small luxuries once in a while.


Jane in Seattle August 28, 2015 at 4:07 pm

I stock. I don’t stick like on extreme couponers,mouth have a small closet off the kitchen . I never pay more than 1/2 price, and often lower than that on things we use in a regular basis. Things like catsup. Pickles etc, I keep one ahead. I don’t want to run to the store for one thing or to have to pay top dollar for it. By averaging 1/2’proce, it frees up our money for bills and meds, I’m sitting at 70-80’dollaes a week for four of us and that maintains and builds a stock. That’s almost 1/2’the USDA stats for thrifty.


Betty Winslow August 28, 2015 at 4:28 pm

I must admit, I probably keep a bit more on hand than the two of use really need, but I shop sales, buy extra when prices on often-used things like spaghetti sauce or beans are good, freeze sale meats and veggies for later, and have loads of TP, laundry soap, dish soap, and other non-perishables, bought at rock-bottom prices. We like to be able to pick and choose what is for dinner, based on weather, mood, time available, etc., to be able to make enough to serve friends who drop by or share with our daughter and her BF, and to cook up stuff for various church events, neighbors who are ill, families with new babies, etc. It works for us.


Rose August 29, 2015 at 6:08 am

I’m with you. It has to be a really good price on something I use for me to stock up. I have a small pantry, and I usually do a weekly shop anyway. That being said, people often give me things they don’t want or don’t like. If I think I can use them, I take them. I will store these things in my pantry, too.


LisaC August 29, 2015 at 9:09 am

I stockpile and then try to see how long I can go without shopping. It makes for some interesting meals sometimes.


MamaMinou August 29, 2015 at 5:33 pm

This is not quite the same situation, but it related. I am not a stockpiler typically (more of an “underbuyer”), but sometimes, like today, I recognize that it is better to buy in advance rather than make a spendier impulse purchase later. I was at a “50% off” sale at a nice second-hand women’s store with a friend today, and had told myself No. Purchases. prior (so why go? something my friend and I enjoy doing together, and often I can leave without buying). However, I spied earrings and a unique top that looked like they should belong to my mother, whose birthday is in early October, and pounced (for $13) as well as a used pair of dressy black Reiker sandals for $8 in perfect condition–the work sandals I’ve had for the last 2 years are getting too worn down at the heel. So, I did spend, which didn’t feel good (lots of unexpected son-off-to-college small expenses) but….I would have eventually needed to get sandals, and the items will make a nice gift for my mom (and I likely would have splurged on both later). Spending now to spend less later.


Sharon August 29, 2015 at 6:50 pm

I have way too much on hand for it being just me! That being said, I stock up fully once a month then live off that until the next month unless there is a super great sale on something. I buy my sundry items at the club store so I go only twice a year. I share a membership and it pays for itself in allergy meds and TP alone! I could go a year without shopping and this gives me comfort. Food is a hobby for me (creating meals, creative uses of foods before they spoil, creative combinations for a new taste). And I want to do my hobby for the least cost possible.


JD August 31, 2015 at 8:36 am

I stock up less than I used to, since the kids are out of the house, but I still stock up when I see a good sale on things like toilet paper and soap, or food items I always buy, such as the staples. Since I buy most of my meats from farms, I stock up on meat then eat it down until the next butchering time — we have a small upright freezer to store it in. Some sales are predictable, so I usually stock up enough on those items to last me to the next sale, a al the Tightwad Gazette. I always look for good deals through the year for things to use at the holidays, such as nuts and organic sugar. Gifts of produce or a bounty from our garden gets canned or frozen and put away for cold weather. However, living in hurricane country — welcome to Florida! — it’s very important to always have a stash of some items that can be eaten or used when one has no water (we have an electric well pump) or power , including candles, lamp oil, matches and charcoal for cooking outside on the grill.


cindy@lifeascindy September 13, 2015 at 9:41 am

I keep an intentional pantry that will last about 2 months. By intentional I mean that everything has a purpose. I do stock up at Trader Joes a bit because I only go a few times a year.


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