Good morning! I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season! In addition to enjoying the holidays, I am enjoying the holiday food sales to increase our frugal stockpile. Even when the budget is tight with Christmas expenses, this is a great time of year to take advantage of grocery sales to build a frugal food stockpile. I especially watch for and buy butter, baking supplies and canned vegetables this time of year.
To save money on groceries, I always check the grocery ads, make a menu and make a list before I shop. I make the menu from sale items and add from my stockpile for variety. Some weeks, there aren’t good prices for items or meats we will eat, so I rely more heavily on my stockpile.
I build the stockpile by buying extra during sales and larger amounts during really good sales. Knowing when and how much to buy is definitely a learning process and I would like to share a few tips I have learned over the years.
Buying only until the next sale is one thing I am working on. In my area, most things go on sale roughly every 6 weeks. So instead of buying a year’s worth, I buy 6 weeks’ worth of a sale item. This helps save storage space and keeps my inventory manageable. For example, when I try to buy larger amounts of chicken breasts, many of the packages will get lost in the freezer before I use them. Finding them a year (or two) later is not good- freezer burnt chicken is not a big hit at our house, so it doesn’t save much money. It is hard to buy about what we will eat in 6 weeks, and not just buy it all. But, I tell myself it will be on sale again.
A few items have a longer sale rotation stretch, though. Thankfully over the years, I have learned to watch for these items. They can be some of the best sale prices, if you are able to take advantage of them. Many of these sale items make sense seasonally. Hamburger and baked beans are a better price during the grilling season, so I stock up as much as I can then.
Right now, butter, baking supplies and canned vegetable prices are great. During the last ½ of November and all of December, the prices in my area reach the lowest point for the whole year. I try to buy more than usual for the stockpile, since they won’t go on sale again in 6 weeks. I actually try to buy enough butter to last until Easter (then next big butter sale). Then, I buy Easter butter to last until Thanksgiving again. I am glad it keeps so well in the freezer.
I have also learned to check my price book on items before I really stockpile. Unfortunately, I can’t remember all the prices of what I buy. Sometimes, I will see what I think is a great deal. Then, instead of checking my price book to make sure, I will just buy a bunch of the item. For some reason, I seem to do this a lot with peanut butter. But when I get home and check the price book, it is only a penny or two cheaper than Aldis’ regular price! Pennies are important to save, but not when I have 12 extra jars of peanut butter to find room for!
Checking the price book is very important at non-traditional stores. Every few years, I start thinking that the warehouse stores would have better prices than what I can get locally. Unfortunately, they are an hour away from my house. I start checking prices online and comparing them with my price book. Then I start thinking that the prices in the store might be better, so I should go to the store. Instead of just racing to the store, the husband (who is always right) convinces me to wait until we have to go to that area anyway. I’m glad we don’t make a special trip to the warehouse stores. Most things are very close to the local Aldis’ prices and Aldis does not involve me driving an hour, eating at new restaurants and spending more money.
We do have one non-traditional store locally, and I am sorry I didn’t try it sooner. A friend had told me about a restaurant distributor that also sells to walk-in customers. I wasn’t sure and was too chicken to call and ask them for about a year. How silly! The worst they would have done was politely said ‘No walk in customers,’ but they didn’t! Now, I stop in occasionally for a few items at a great discount. Since I don’t use many convenience foods, I’m not interested in lots of their inventory (though the HUGE bag of breaded mushrooms always tries to tempt me). They sell in larger quantities, so I open the packaging and vacuum seal in portions we will use. I also still check the price book, because Aldis’ prices are better on some items.
My last tip is to use the stockpile. This is also one I am still working on. I found the sales, bought and stored the groceries to save money, but for some reason- I have a hard time using it. But it really isn’t saving money if it just sits on the shelf. Just like buying only until the next sale, I am trying to trust that I will get more groceries on sale and need to use my stockpile.
This season, I hope you are able to enjoy family and friends and also take advantage of the sales to build a stockpile. Watching for seasonal items, checking prices and even using non-traditional stores can all help grow a stockpile of groceries to save money. I love being able to grab butter from the freezer in February, knowing I paid half the current price. Learning the low prices and sales rotations can take time, but it is a great way to be frugal. Hopefully, these hints will help you grow your stockpile and save money on your grocery bill.
Happy Camping (or watching for sales!)