“I love all of your tips! But I’m curious if you had a larger budget when you first started meal planning backwards? How did you start building your stockpile?”
First off, if you’re new around here, I do something called “Reverse Meal Planning”. Basically, that instead of deciding what sounds good and planning a menu and grocery list based upon that, I plan our menu based upon what we already have on hand and what is on sale at the store.
This saves us a lot of money because it allows us to plan our groceries around rock bottom sales, deals, and markdowns. Yes, it means we sometimes get creative and I often tweak recipes or make them up altogether based upon what ingredients we have, but I view it as a fun game!
How to Start a Stockpile on a Budget
To plan your menu based upon what you have on hand, you first need to, well, have some stuff on hand to work with and plan for! How do you build up that stockpile — especially if you are on a tight budget? Here are my suggestions:
1. Set Aside $3-$5 to Put Toward Buying Ahead
Every week, look at the store sales flier or the clearance/markdown section of your store and determine what you’re going to invest your $3-$5 in. Look for items that are shelf-stable or can be frozen (if you have freezer space) and are at least 50% off their regular price. In addition, make sure they are items you very regularly use (it’s not really saving you anything to stock up on stuff you won’t eat or use!)
How Does This Practically Work?
For instance, let’s say that this week, the kind of deodorant you usually buy is just $0.75 by combining a sale and a coupon. You don’t need to buy deodorant yet, but it’s regularly priced at $2. So, you spend $0.75 of your stockpile budget on deodorant and put it on the stockpile shelf in your bathroom cupboard to save for when you run out of deodorant. Then, bread is on sale for $1/loaf and it’s usually $2/loaf. You go ahead and buy an extra loaf and stick it in the freezer for next week. Finally, pasta that is usually $1.50/box is on sale for $0.75/box with a coupon and sale. You buy two extra boxes and stick them in your pantry.
You’ve spent $3.25 and saved $4.75 — and you’ve added 4 items to your cupboard/freezer for the weeks to come. It might not seem like much, but if you do this every week, pretty soon, you will have built up a nice stash of extra items that you’ve purchased for at least half the price you’d regularly pay.
Thank you to JennyOntheRidge for sharing this via Instagram
2. Gradually Increase That Amount
After 4-6 weeks of buy items ahead, you should be able to plan some of your menu based upon what you have on hand. This should also free up more room in your grocery budget for you to put toward buying more items ahead. So maybe instead of allocating $3-$5/week, you could now set aside $8-$10/week. This could allow you to buy 8-12 extra items and you can then even more quickly stock your pantry/freezer!
Best of all, in each case, you are saving at least 50% of the price of what you would typically pay! The more you do this, the more bang for your grocery buck you’ll get.
Thank you to Kimberlee at The Peaceful Mom for sharing this tip.
3. Eventually Work Toward Buying 40-50% Ahead
As you continue to practice Reverse Meal Planning and build your stockpile, you’ll gradually get to the place where you can spend at least 40-50% of your grocery budget on building your stockpile with rock bottom deals! In fact, there are some weeks when 60-70% of my grocery purchases are for the stockpile!! This is when you’ll really start to see the savings add up — because you’re buying most everything when it’s at its lowest price.
Plus, you’ll have a lot of variety to work from! I’ve found that when we have a good stockpile built up, it’s easy to practice hospitality or take food to an event without needing to run to the store… because I already have a lot of options on hand!
Another benefit is that you’re often able to use some of your stockpile to bless others with hygiene products or other things they might need, all while on a tight budget!
What tips and suggestions do you have for building a stockpile on a budget?
P.S. Have a question you’d love for me to answer in a future post? Drop me an email through our contact form here with the subject “Question”.