13 June 2007

Stockpiling groceries

A stockpile is a large amount of non-perishable food, cleaning products and toiletries that are purchased at sale price and stored in a cupboard until needed. I started my food and groceries stockpile by allocating $5 from my grocery budget for items on sale. I only ever bought things I knew I'd use and what would keep for a reasonable amount of time. The larger the stockpile became, the less I shopped, because I already had most of what I used at home. Now I shop about once a month for staples, and once a week I buy fresh milk and whatever fruit or vegetables I need that we're not growing in our backyard.

I'd like to point out that a stockpile cupboard is not a pantry. Above is a photo of my pantry cupboard. In the pantry I keep food that is currently being used. My stockpile cupboard (pictured below), which is not in my kitchen, holds food and groceries that have not been opened. It's like my mini-supermarket that is open all hours.

Alternatively, if you can afford it, allocate a set amount for your stockpile. Sit down and work out what your family uses and eats. Look at your menu plan and your grocery list and write a list of every item that will sit on a shelf for a long time without an ill effects. Turn yourself into a squirrel - stockpile those items that are on sale, go searching in your neighbourhood for bargains and when you find something, snap it up and add it to your cupboard. Remember that stockpiling is an ongoing process so don’t be upset if you can’t start with a bang. Go at it steadily so that you are sure that what you have is really what you need.

Start with things like:

  • toilet paper, toothpaste, tooth brushes, tissues, tampons, shampoo, conditioner, soap, or whatever toiletries you use;
  • anything canned - chick peas, beans, tomatoes, fruit, fish, condensed or evaporated milk (good for desserts and treats) etc.;
  • anything dry - pasta, beans, lentils, rice, milk, flour, sugar, spices, oatmeal, cornmeal, tea, coffee, dried fruit;
  • things in jars - honey, jam, pasta sauce, Vegemite, tomato paste;
  • cleaning and laundry items: supplies for homemade laundry soap (soap flakes, washing soda and borax), white vinegar, bicarb soda. These items are kept in a separate cupboard;
  • medical supplies: aspirin or paracetamol, bandaids, peroxide, tea tree oil, antiseptic wipes or cream, any medication your family needs - asthma puffers, contraceptive pill etc.
Only you know what you'll need. Study your buying habits and start putting away those items you buy every week that have a good shelf life, as well as those you use occasionally. Of course, one of the great side effects of stockpiling is that theoretically, you should never have to pay full retail price for anything in the stockpile. By stocking your cupboard with marked down groceries and sale items, you can "shop" from your stockpile, knowing that you're paying less than most other people who are shopping each week. So always keep your eye open for bargains and, when you have a chance, stock up on every item you use. If you can buy 20 cans of tomatoes for $5 (25c/can) and have them sitting in your cupboard waiting for the day you make spaghetti sauce or tomato relish, it's better than rushing out to the supermarket and paying full price for that same item, in my case 89 cents to one dollar for normal retail canned tomatoes. By the time your 20 cans of tomatoes are used, they will have come on sale again, you should grab them and replenish your stockpile.

Just a quick word
on dried goods. When you bring home things like flour, rice etc., whack it in the freezer for a week or so to kill any pantry moth larvae it might contain. Always make sure you put dried goods in a sealed container when you open them as well. It's better to be safe than sorry. Remember when you add to your stockpile to add goods to the back and take from the front. Doing this will help you rotate your stock. Always be guided by the “best before” or “use by” dates if your groceries have them. If they do, remember that they will need special attention and must be used before those dates.


  1. This is such a good idea and something I will try to do. I tend to get some stockpiling done and then get lazy and use it all with out replacing it.

  2. Once you have a good stockpile, it's just a matter of topping it up every so often. I think a few people get half way there and forget to top it up, then find an empty cupboard.

    I hope you succeed with this because it really saves a lot of time and money.

  3. I love this idea Rhonda Jean. I came to you from Little Jenny Wren and this seems to be a good answer to saving money on your food bill without changing the family's food too much. I'm defintely going to do this.

  4. When I use to work outside the house, I asked the janitorial staff to save the tp rolls they changed out, for me. This companies policy was to change the rolls when they were just under half gone {3rd shift} So much tp wasted. It wasn't the greatest stuff, but I didn't have to buy tp for 2 years after I stopped working.

  5. nice to meet you, isabella. not only will stockpiling save you money, it will also save time.

    Phelan, isn't it incredible how much waste there is in corpoate life? I noticed quite a lot of it too when I was working.

  6. I have you to thank Rhonda for your stockpiling challenge over at ALS. I no longer dread shopping because apart from a big shop every second month I only need to make a quick call to the supermarket every now and then.

    I haven't really been looking out for specials but I am saving heaps because I'm not buying on impulse. I have my lists and I stick to them.

  7. Rhonda,

    Great post! I think my problem is that I've been trying to store everything in my pantry, which leads to chaos. I'll try moving some stuff to the linen cupboard and see how I go! I've 'met' you on ALS haven't I? (I'm Kate from Melbourne and have only been blogging 3 weeks)

  8. Hello Polly. Yes, once the stockpile is operating well, it's incredible how little time you spend on shopping. And as we all know, the more you stay out of the shops, the more you save.

    Hi Kate. Yes, I'm forest at ALS. The trick is to keep your pantry and your stockpile apart, so yes, move your stockpile. It can be anywhere, it doesn't have to be in the kitchen. I've just had a quick look at your blog. I'll go back later for a proper read. : )

  9. Hi Rhonda Jean

    Just linked to your blog from eh..someone else's..can't remember now whose it was and it was only yesterday! Possibly Phelan's since I've seen her commenting here already. Anyway, I've been reading from the beginning and really enjoying it. You express a lot of ideas I have very well.

    At the top of your list of potential things to stockpile is toilet roll, tissues and tampons etc. Not sure if you cover this at a later date (it'll take me a while to catch up on everything!) but thought mentioning non-disposal versions of these type of products would be worth it for those who find your blog and aren't aware of it. I don't use cloth toilet paper (TP) myself yet (but hope to try it out in the future when I don't have housemates and owner-occupier landlords to worry about) but have been using washable sanitary towels for nearly a year and would never go back to disposables (the lack of cramps alone makes it more than worth it). Maybe one day I'll even try a Mooncup.

    Looking forward to catching up on the rest of your blog.

  10. Hey there, its casey from cincinnati. Two years ago while planning on being a stahm, i turned the unused hall closet in my apt whic is just outseide my kitchen into a pantry to store all the things a family needs. The closet already had the slots to put brackets in so my dear father in law who is a carpenter, made me five shelves 4 which are installed and an extra in case i need it. I put all of my nonperishables in there and at the beginning of the week i make my meal plan according to what is in there as well as the stockpile of frozen veggies and fruits in my freezer and leftovers in my fridge, and move what i need from my pantry closet to my kitchen cubord. I am going to make an invemtory list for my pantry and keep it on the pantry door as soon as i get back from vacation so that it will be easyer to tell what i have and dont. Thanks for the great ideas. Ps do u have and tips on what produce can be kept in my pantry for a long period of time without worry it rotting any tips on that or a webpage where i can find that info would be much obliged thanks casey


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