Learning how to stockpile food on a budget is a fabulous addition to your frugal skills. A food pantry stockpile helps you manage those lean months when money seems to flow out faster than it comes in.
It enables you to buy the majority of your cupboard staples at bargain basement prices and save money on your grocery bill.
Many people have a cupboard full of food but not everyone considers their full cupboards as being their stockpile. More like just overstocked cupboards!
If you are starting a food stockpile then you are joining many others who feel this is a sensible thing to be doing. Frugal families often swear by their pantry.
And then you’ve got the emergency preppers who worry about food shortages and take food storage to a whole other level.
I’ve had a grocery stockpile for a long time although I didn’t always realize what it was – I’m afraid I just loved to buy and hoard food!
At one point I swear I could have fed our family for over 6 months with my stores.
Which wasn’t great for my budget as I was within walking distance of various shops so had no need to tie up so much of my money in quite such a large stockpile.
I’ve learnt since then what my sweet point is with storing non perishable food items and have reduced it down to the right level for us.
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Stockpiling For Beginners – should we start stockpiling food?
Getting started on learning how to build a food stockpile, especially when you are on a budget and don’t have a lot of money can be daunting.
Where to start? What are the best things to stockpile? How much should you spend?
Let’s dive in and find out more.
What Is A Stockpile?
A food stockpile is really quite simple, it’s basically your own personal supply of foods that you need in order to feed your family for a period of time, weeks or months.
And because we are looking at starting a stockpile we also want to look at how to stock up on these groceries for cheap i.e. the lowest possible price not the regular price.
Is it illegal to stockpile food?
There are no laws against stockpiling food so you are free to buy as much as you want, if you so choose. When a crisis hits, like a pandemic then stockpiling food illegal or not, becomes a big issue.
Because we are all fearful of running out of food. And toilet paper! Stockpiling food for pandemic or worse is not something to do once the pandemic has already hit. You want to be stockpiling food BEFORE the disaster or crisis hits.
Why Do You Need to be Stockpiling food and water?
Stockpiling food to save money enables you to really cut down your grocery budget. Your aim is to have a stockpile food list bought at not just any old price, but the lowest possible price.
By buying at the lowest possible price and buying in bulk it means in time you will only ever buy at these low prices and save money accordingly.
For example, brown rice might usually cost you $2 a kilo. But if the lowest possible price is actually $1 a kilo and you only ever buy at that price then you are saving 50%.
Extrapolate that across many other items on your stockpile food list and you can see how the savings are going to mount up nicely.
What Foods should I stockpile?
The best things to stockpile are food items that will last a reasonable length of time.
So long life cans, dried and packet goods are perfect for stockpiling as is non-food items such as toilet paper, shampoo, soap and washing powder.
The important thing to remember is only include items that you and your family actually use and only in quantities that you can get through within a reasonable time frame.
There’s nothing worse than getting a bargain and then not using it before the expiry date. Or buying so much you get sick of eating said item!
I’ve listed at the bottom of this post my top 10 best cheap food to stock up on and 5 non food items for stockpiling to get you started.
It takes time to go from beginner to expert building your stockpile so cut yourself a little slack in the early days.
You are likely to overbuy because you find a great bargain or not buy because you think it will be cheaper another week.
What is the cheapest food to stockpile? Basic foods like flour, oats, peanut butter, pasta and noodles are among the cheapest foods to stockpile.
For more detailed help on what emergency foods to buy have a read of my post on the best foods to stockpile.
How To Stockpile Food On A Budget – 10 Easy Tips
1. Decide On Your Stockpiling Budget
When you’ve got a tight grocery budget you can’t suddenly drop $50 on some basics for your food store.
There is no right or wrong amount to ring fence for beginning your stockpile. If you can find only $5 then that’s great, if it’s $10 even better.
Remember you are building a stockpile of items bought at the lowest possible price so you won’t necessarily use that $5 every week. The focus is on CHEAP food to stock up on, not just any old food stockpile for stockpiling’s sake.
Only if there is a bargain to be had that fits your stockpiling criteria. $5 could get you 4 bags of brown rice at the right price.
For help in setting up your grocery budget check out my post that answers the question how much should I spend on groceries?
☑ Need help in cutting your grocery budget? Want to cut your food bill in half? Find out how to do exactly that when you learn how to cut your grocery budget here
2. Check Out New Storage Space Ahead Of Time
Storing food does not need to be confined to your kitchen. If you haven’t got space in your kitchen or pantry then branch out and find somewhere that does.
Shelves in a garage work well but so does under your bed and above your wardrobe.
Unconventional storage spaces work just as well as conventional. Just remember where your stores are.
3. How Much food should you stockpile?
Before you begin building your stockpile you need to consider how big you need it to be. Your storage space may of course limit your plans.
Do you have a large family? Are you living in a very isolated area? Are you stockpiling food for shtf type scenarios? So how much food should you stockpile?
In the ideal world you want to stockpile enough of each item to get you from a sale at the lowest price to the next time it goes on sale.
This could be every 1, 3 or 6 months depending on the item and where you live. There are foods that lasts for years but I don’t think we need to work on a stockpile that large!
You want to ensure you store only that which you will eat within a reasonable time frame.
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4. create a food Stockpile List
Spend some time drawing up your food stockpile list so you know what you need to buy over the coming weeks and months. Focus on long life non perishable foods and budget staple foods such as dried and canned goods.
5. Build your supply Up Over Time
Every item on your food stockpile checklist will not be on sale at the same time. And that’s OK!
Take you time to build up your grocery stockpile, that way you ensure you get the absolute best, lowest price and save more money on your future grocery bills.
6. Invest Time To Find The Best Deals
To get your food pantry stockpile at the best possible price you will want to invest your time in finding the best deals available to you.
Check online for cheap food to stock up on and any local flyers or newspapers that get delivered to you.
7. Be Open To Shopping Around
You won’t find all the lowest prices in the same store at the same time. Cast your net wider to get the best possible prices on the items you want to store.
8. Don’t Over Buy
Starting a food stockpile and building it up can be quite addictive, especially if you get good at finding great bargains. But a bargain is only a bargain if you do use it the way you planned.
Unfortunately I have fallen foul of the bargain mentality and ended up with far too much of one item which then means either we’re going to be eating it daily for months or wasting it.
Don’t be me!
9. Know Your Prices
Key to being successful in learning how to stockpile food on a budget is knowing the best prices of individual food items.
Know the absolute best price for each item and track when they go down to that price.
Rather than buying at everyday prices every week it’s likely that you will do a stock up every 2-4 weeks on a couple of items when they hit their lowest price point.
At which point you’ll want to buy enough to see you and your family through to the next time they go on sale.
10. No Deal, No Buy
When you know your prices you know when there are deals and when there aren’t. You are unlikely to be increasing your stockpile every week as sales tend to go in cycles.
Don’t actively look for ‘other’ bargains because you have money to spend. Keep it in your purse and let it build up.
Bonus tip – Rotate Your Stock
This is probably one of the most important stockpiling tips I can share with you. If you don’t rotate your stock you run the risk of having to throw away food.
Finding a bag of rice a year past it’s expiry date can be a very frustrating thing indeed.
Ask me how I know!
If you forget to rotate your stock or build too big a stockpile then you might want to do a pantry challenge to bring your stock levels back down to the right level.
Key Tips When Beginning Your Stockpile
- Start slow
- When your budget is tight, one extra bag of brown rice might be all you can afford
- If you are able to use coupons, check out the latest
- Use coupons only if they make items cheaper than store’s own brand
- Focus on cheap food brands – you get more for less money
- Know the best prices and only buy at these levels
- Don’t blow your budget for a bargain – there’ll always be another
Stockpiling For Beginners – Top 10 Best Foods
- Brown rice (healthier than white but both are long lasting)
- Brown pasta (as above)
- Sugar (I don’t stockpile sugar as we don’t use very much)
- Lentils (red, yellow, green or brown)
- Dried beans
- Tinned baked beans
- Tinned tuna
- Tinned tomatoes
- Rolled oats
Coincidentally the above 10 items are also on my list of the best cheap foods to buy when you’re broke.
Cheap to start with and even cheaper when you stockpile – double win!
Stockpiling For Beginners – Top 5 Best Household Items
- Toilet paper
- Cleaning products
Emergency Stockpiling food survival tips
If you live in an area which has weather extremes or are very remote you might want to consider including within your stores an emergency stockpile.
This stockpile is less about reducing your grocery budget and more about feeding your family when you can’t get out to the stores.
Your emergency stockpile could be the last one of everything in your regular stores or it could be completely separate.
Focus on the cheapest survival food that lasts for years but do remember if you keep it separate, then you still need to rotate the stock in it in order to not fall foul of expiry dates, however far in advance they may be.
What Are The Best Foods To Store For An Emergency?
Plan your emergency store according to the type of emergency you might face.
You might want to consider having food items that enable you to make meals without electricity.
So canned beans, canned meat etc.
The cheapest emergency food supplies to keep you going until you can get to the grocery store might include pasta, rice, dried beans, canned tomatoes, tuna and sweetcorn.
Stockpiling food for pandemics or just to save money
We didn’t know we needed to but stockpiling food for coronavirus could have been helpful. If only because so many people went mad with building an emergency food stockpile they didn’t really need.
What you and I are focused on is saving money off the food you buy. How to build a stockpile of food is easy when you know how. The main point is to get started but only when you’ve given some thought to the what, where, why and how of your food stockpile.
Don’t blow your budget in your eagerness to begin. Follow these stockpiling tips and get started on your own pantry stockpile today.
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Last Updated on 10th March 2022 by Emma