Building a stockpile the wrong way can honestly get expensive. I always tell everyone I know to do basic prepping for at least 2-3 week coverage. I learned my lesson after Katrina when stuff went a bit nuts after the disaster. At the time I was based in Louisiana.
The problem was that at the time the husband and I were still doing college and both of us had very small incomes. What little I had was also being used to build up an investment account. I didn’t know what I was doing so I bought up some Microsoft and AMD.
With a tight budget like what we had you learn a few tricks about keeping things efficient.
Stockpile As An Investment
Now an obvious thing here is not to get stuff you don’t even like. You hate tuna? Don’t buy tuna. If your partner or some other family member likes it, OK, maybe. Otherwise, don’t get stuff you don’t like.
The basics of a stockpile are to build up things you will use and add to it while also rotating it around to keep things from expiring. You want to keep the stock in good condition.
The stockpile isn’t some supply you keep locked in a basement and never use. No, think of it as an additional pantry supply. The pantry is sort of your base supply of goods for the week or monthly food needs. The stockpile is your backup supply of goods if the stores are closed or your city is falling apart because of riots or whatever else is going on. You may have enough supplies in there to last 6 months.
My own experience with my stockpile was back in 2011 my ex-husband lost his job due to government funding cuts. We scrambled around a bit and things were sort of bleak for a few weeks, but we had food.
I had been building a stockpile slowly over the year mostly building it up with free or deeply discounted seasonal sales and things. We didn’t have to buy groceries for 3 months and had an interesting time experimenting with Spam musubi.
In all my infinite and expansive wisdom, I ended up with a lot of Spam. Which isn’t so bad as every single musubi only cost maybe a $1 so it was a pretty cheap and filling snack. It was nice having the stockpile as regardless of what was going on I knew there was food for a while. We would have had even more food, but I diverted part of the funds for things like medicine and toilet paper.
My ex-husband, who originally thought my stockpile was silly, ended up being eternally grateful. His family too thought I was odd until that Thanksgiving (before the husband’s job loss) they couldn’t locate several staple items for their cooking as they weren’t prepared and local area stores were out of several things. So I did get a hit of smugness when I allowed them to come over and “shop” my stockpile.
Then now after the Covid events I can only guess at what they have to say. I’ve been saying for as long as I’ve known them that having basic stocks is good wisdom.
It helps to think of your stockpile like your own personal store. It is also a good insurance policy in case of trouble.
Build it Gradually
One major thing to take away from this article is patience. You do not want to run out there and buy all you need at full price. That is not in your best interest. It also the very definition of panic buying and not being prepared. Two things that are not good.
You want to keep track of your store sales. Pick up that can of green beans when it is 75% cheaper than the regular price, get that discount pasta. Buy stuff when you can get it at its absolute lowest price and you know you can keep it shelf stable. Otherwise, build your stockpile by throwing an extra $5 per trip to buy one to 4 items to add.
It also helps to be sure to think of adding variety when you make your purchases so you don’t end up with 50 cans of Spam and only 3 cans of chicken. Be sure to get your rice one week, your beans another. Check produce deals for ideal goods to dehydrate. The stockpile is actually a very useful frugal tool when tended to properly.
Watch for Deals
Keep track of as many deal information sources as you can realistically manage. I’d watch for weekly news from about 12 different sources then build a buying strategy. It helps to check for coupons as well or coupon apps. You can end up with a lot of stuff for free or near-free if you get the system working out.
It is also really satisfying making a big bulk buy when it is discounted. You can end up with 75% off that huge mountain of toilet paper. For household items like shampoo, soap, paper towels, toothpaste, toilet paper, and other such things, you can usually find coupons to get them for free.
Don’t Buy Garbage
Do not buy the stuff that sucks. I once bought these really cheap band-aids and they wouldn’t even stick to my skin properly so they were essentially useless. I really hate cheap toilet paper because of…personal reasons. Don’t buy the cheapest thing. Buy the cheapest thing that clears quality and function standards.
Also the coupon lists offer a lot of complete JUNK. Do not buy all that sugary gross junk that pollutes your body. Another complaint I have is cheap cotton socks that form holes after a couple of weeks. Absolute garbage.
Be Critical of Brand Names
It helps to test out different options when figuring out what food is worth investing in. Just because something is off brand it doesn’t mean it is bad.
If there is no taste difference or ingredient difference, opt for cheaper items.
With medicine, you usually want to figure out the active ingredient and make sure the knockoff is properly equivalent. You might also need to shop around. I used to order some meds special from Canada because it was cheaper. As always, keep an eye on coupons as sometimes they are worthwhile.
Figure out Your Priorities
Most people are lost when they first start to build a stockpile. My strategy back in the old days was to prioritize food first. When I start to do it again in the future, I’m probably going to figure out my items in general and just buy things as they get deeply discounted. You aren’t in a big hurry here so just relax and start slow.
If after a few months you notice one of your categories is a lot bigger than the others (tons of medicine and less food) you can always shift gears and buy more of what you think you need. Most items intended for the household never expire so you can get by with ignoring that category after a while.
Medicines are a bit tricky as they do expire after a while. Some medicines work fine even after the expiry date.
The difference is they might be weaker or less effective. You would need to research more about the particular product and use your best judgment.
Later I’ll explore more in-depth material about how you can stockpile with canning like the feature image.