Stocking Up vs Stockpiling

We all know the feeling… we are at the supermarket or the grocery store and we see an irresistible bargain — a product our family uses, on sale!

To buy or not to buy, that is the question. The answer? It depends…

I regularly indulge in what I like to call “investment shopping.” That is, when I see an item I know we will use in the next few weeks, but don’t need this week, on sale today. Buying it and storing it in the pantry means we won’t need to buy it at a higher price next week or the week after. But where does one cross the line between “stocking up” and “stockpiling?” If you follow these simple rules you should be just fine:

  • YOU MUST HAVE ROOM FOR IT: That doesn’t mean an unused corner of your bedroom. If you are going to stock up you must have a dedicated space — either in your pantry, a closet shelf set aside for the purpose, or on special shelves in your basement or storeroom.
  • YOU MUST HAVE NEED FOR IT IN THE NEAR FUTURE: Otherwise there is no reason to purchase it now; watch for sale prices closer to the time you will need it. Example? You won’t need to devote February’s freezer space to the turkey you’ll need for Christmas.
  • YOU MUST HAVE NEED FOR THE QUANTITY YOU BUY: If you only use several cans of soup in a month there is no need to stockpile a whole year’s worth.
  • YOU MUST USE IT BEFORE IT EXPIRES: If you open a package from your pantry only to find it is no longer usable, you wasted the money you spent on it.
  • YOU MUST STOCK UP ONLY ON NON-PERISHABLES: Unless it can be stored in your pantry or freezer, a bargain might not be a bargain. Do not stockpile more fresh fruits and vegetables than you can use before they spoil.

Finally, don’t use your freezer or pantry as a place to “hoard” food. It should be in constant rotation, first-in-first-out. If you realize any particular item stays in the pantry a long time before you use it, you will know for next time not to buy it so far ahead.

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