The Art of Stockpiling
Forget the images of hoarders being bashed on reality TV. That isn’t the art of stockpiling. Rather, stockpiling involves strategic planning and shopping to ensure your family’s food supply for the short and long-term. It doesn’t turn you into a doomsayer or a religious zealot, although several religious including the Latter Day Saints “encourage” followers to stockpile and offer some excellent resources on how to get started. What the stockpiling mentality will do for your family is better prepare you to weather a natural disaster or a financial downturn such as the main bread winner becoming unemployed. It is a method of making purchases that capitalizes on market trends and offerings to make your dollar go further in covering your needed purchases.
Obviously you will need an appropriate space to store the items you intend to stockpile. However, next to your home entertainment center in the living room probably isn’t the best spot unless that’s all the room you have. Otherwise, you’ll be constantly reminded of the stockpile and won’t get to enjoy the peace of mind the tucked away resource is aimed at bringing to your life. A basement – as long as it isn’t prone to seepage – truly is your best bet because:
- It is cool and dark. Heat and light can add to food deterioration.
- Generally speaking, underground basements provide protection against tornadoes that can pick up your entire stockpile and spread it across several miles.
- Most basements have enough room to set up metal shelving units.
Some people use a portion of their garage to stockpile. This is alright for paper products and toiletries but not the best solution for food storage particularly if you live in a warm climate.
In setting up the physical storage itself – such as a shelving unit – be sure to select a level and easy-to-access spot. If you have to climb over your holiday decorations and the artificial Christmas tree to get to your stockpile, you won’t be as motivated to maintain your surplus.
What To Stockpile
Sounds pretty simple, but the correct answer to that question is this: Buy what your family eats. It doesn’t matter how much of a deal you scored on it, if your family won’t eat spaghetti from a can or lima beans, you haven’t made a money-saving choice. Certainly nutrition needs must be a factor but that food has to get past their mouth to do any good. If you are accessing your stockpile in a natural disaster, that’s not an opportune time to begin new eating habits. Here is a basic list to start with:
- Canned fruits and vegetables including canned potatoes
- Granola and nuts
- Baby food (if applicable)
- Canned soup
- Tuna and canned chicken (excellent sources of protein)
- Powdered milk and powdered potatoes
- Rice (white lasts longer; brown is more nutritious)
- Bottled water in gallons
- Freeze dried foods
How Much To Stockpile
The answer to this question again depends on how these factors play out in your family:
- How many members?
- Heavy, moderate or light eaters?
- How long can your family maintain a survival situation?
- Is your stockpile for short term emergencies or for a long-term scenario?
The larger your family, the more food you’ll need. If your family has a more than hearty appetite, you need to plan for that. If a natural disaster or war were to occur, how long could your family hold out in your home? Would you want to live in your home for six months to a year or is your stockpile only for a short duration of one week to a month?
How To Organize Your Stockpile
How you store the food is just as important as the idea of building a stockpile. A monthly rotation of foods is the ultimate in stockpiling. This keeps expiration dates in check and allows you to age items out of your stockpile into your regular pantry for usage. Some people use a three or six-month cycle for rotating goods.
Placing dry goods such as cereals, protein bars, snacks, etc in sealable plastic containers eliminates insect infestations. There’s nothing as icky as critters crawling in your corn flakes. Do the same for canned goods if you are concerned that water damage might occur or if you live in a flood-prone area. Avoid buying items in glass container. But if you must, place cardboard between the rows of glass jars to minimize clanking.
How To Start
Unless you’ve won the lottery or have a significant amount of cash burning a hole in your pocket, the process of establishing a stockpile is going to take more than just one or two grocery shopping trips. Just outright purchasing an entire stockpile in one swoop defeats the purpose of stockpiling – which is buying goods in bulk at a lower price. Focus one or two items each shopping trip based on sales to build your reserve.
Key steps to take:
- Write a complete list of all items used in a month as your beginning guide
- Monitor grocery sales flyers to identify when various items are on sale
- Combine sale prices with coupons when purchasing
- Chart prices to identify trends
- Record your savings as future motivation
Coupons and Stockpiling
This really boils down to basic math. If tuna fish is on sale at a price of 10 cans for $10 – which is a common marketing ploy used by supermarkets – and you have five coupons for 50 cents off each, you just bought that tuna for 25 percent less than the sale price.
The trick with coupon usage in stockpiling is to either have a well-developed coupon inventory or be able to quickly access the coupons that match what is one sale.
Here is where eBay enters the picture with its section devoted strictly to coupons. Catch here is that you aren’t actually paying for the coupons themselves: that is illegal. Instead, you are paying the person offering the coupons for their time spent in collecting them. Many offerings include multiples of the same coupon. Use the “Buy It Now” button to eliminate waiting time on bidding along with a Paypal account so your coupon purchase is sent to you without delay. This means you may be heading to the store toward the end of the sales cycle, but that shouldn’t be an issue as most stores re-stock or will offer a raincheck.
What Not To Do
Remember, the point is to save money on and build up a reserve of useful items. Don’t:
- Store items that quickly spoil
- Don’t skip a regular check of expiration dates
- Don’t buy things most members of your family won’t eat
- Don’t buy more than you have room to store
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