Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Q & A

Coupon Clipper: How do you know you have enough of a stock pile??

I am so new at this that I think I am crazy to keep buying cereal when I am running out of room to put it, but my kids love to eat it for snacks/before bedtime.

How do you know if you have enough? And I have a wonderful storage area, but it is a bit damp. Fine for canned stuff, but has anyone had this issue and stored stuff in a Rubbermaid container for boxed stuff??

Me: I vividly remember my first MAJORLY stockpiled item... canned vegetables. Meijer placed their store brand veggies on sale for $.33/can. I think I purchased 50-ish cans, trying to think of the entire year. I also worked a deal with earning Catalina store rewards so I only paid about $8 out of pocket (OOP) for all of those cans.

At the time (about a year and a half ago), my son was 8 months old, and just getting into the stage of picking up peas and carrots by himself. Since it was the Fall, I tried to imagine how many times I would make green bean casserole and different kinds of soups over the course of the next year.

I FAR exceeded my needs- even for an entire year, by purchasing those cans, but I haven't had to put canned vegetables on my grocery list for a YEAR! Luckily, most canned food items have a 2 year window of 'best by' consumption!

My best advice would be to extensively stockpile the items that your consumes all of the time, like cereal or pasta... things with an extended shelf life. Items that are infrequently consumed should be purchased in moderation.

For the majority of the items I purchase while in 'stockpile' mode, I purchase enough for about 3 months for my family. Most store sales are in cycles... meaning that the sale *should* come back around within the next 12 weeks.

Seasonal type items, like canned foods
(served mostly during the winter months), may only be deeply discounted once per year/season... so purchase those accordingly!

As far as Rubbermaid storage goes, I prefer Ziploc's. In the Fall I purchased (8) 5 pound bags of flour and I placed each flour bag inside a Ziploc until I'm ready to use it!

Readers, do YOU have any advice?



Cereal is one of those things that seems to go in waves. For a month or two it seems like there's a deal every week, and then all of a sudden there are no good deals or coupons and my stockpile, which once seemed so excessive, dwindles to practically nothing. I have never regretted buying a box of cereal, so long as I didn't pay more than a dollar for it!

Some things I've found I use a lot more slowly than I thought I did. Salad dressing and condiments, in particular.


I, too, load up on cereal when it is $0.75 or less. My husband eats cereal like it's going out of style. I also have had to discard too many expired salad dressings. I will not stock up on salad dressings/mayo anymore. For toiletries, I haven't learned to stop yet with them! I have so many Dove soaps, Herbal Essence, toothpaste, etc. I've started allowing my sister (she's 5 years younger) come over and go "grocery shopping" through my pantry and storage areas! She loves it and I feel great that I am able to help her as she is just getting started on her own.


Be aware that anytime you consider long-term food storage, bug-prevention is key. I store many flours and grain-products either in the freezer or in long-term mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, b/c nothing is worse than going to your food storage and finding bugs there.

As we build a long-term storage in our pantry (that reminds me, I have to get in there and organize it today), we look to rotation and how long things will be good. Ketchup & mustard (bought at Meijer's 11/$10 sale) rarely go bad and the HFCS-free version is rarely on sale, so I have 8 bottles of ketchup & 4 of mustard, but only 15lbs of ground AP flour b/c the flour will not last as long (safely) as the condiments. Long term storage is good, but so is the ability to use it before it goes bad - or the ability to package it so it's safe & tasty much longer than normal. :)


When I was first starting with this coupon/stockpile thing, I went overboard and got just about every freebie I could find. Now I have a better idea of how quickly or slowly my family uses those stockable products. Now I tend to underbuy rather than overbuy. We can go without salad dressing or whatever for a few weeks if we have to.
I also found that just as the sales go in cycles, so do my family's tastes. There for a while I had a hard time keeping enough of certain cereals in the house. Now, no one wants cereal.

Mom C

My 17 year old always teases me to not buy any more cereal but it does seem to get eaten. I have started dating my cereal with a sharpie (with the expiration date) on the narrow edge of the box since that's the way they are stored in my pantry. That way, if I have 5 boxes of mini-wheats, the oldest gets pick first. I need to date other things as well but I haven't moved on to that.

I am curious Laura. I thought you posted about a vacuum sealer that you bought. Do you still use it - especially for things like flour that you are repackaging?

Laura Webber

Hi Mom C,
I have yet to break it out... for some reason I'm nervous of using it wrong... stupid, I know!


When buying toiletries, what store or stores do you go to most to find the best deals for stockpiling? I've just started going to CVS (and couponing, for that matter) and got their card, but when I look at prices there, I'm not sure if it's the best deal for, i.e., a moisturizer or lotion with a coupon vs. going to Costco to get it with their coupon. Any hints? Thanks!


Hi Laura,
I have wondered the same thing that Michele from the comment before had asked. Trust me even with a coupon some Costco paper products are still costly but after pricing all the small packages at the stores I wonder how it all averages out(I make my husband do the math lol). Even with coupons it seems buying my tp or pt at a drug store/ grocery store is still more if not the same. Also when I average out the meat getting it at Costco in bulk still seems cheaper. I know with the meat sales at meijer this week I will pay closer attention to see. Thank you for your great advice!

Laura Webber

Michelle & Danielle, I will write a post dedicated to your question!