Grocery Stockpile on a Budget 3
Frugal Living

How to Build a Grocery Stockpile on a Budget

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Do you ever wish you had some extra food stored up in a case of an emergency?

Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to hurriedly run to the store when there’s an impending storm?

Building a grocery stockpile can help give you peace of mind knowing that your shelves won’t run empty when faced with a power outage from a storm or a medical event that prevents you from going to the store.

How do I build a grocery stockpile on a budget?

While you could go out and build your grocery stockpile all at once, it’s not necessarily practical.

It also isn’t the easiest on your bank account.

By adding to it a little bit at a time, you can build a grocery stockpile on a budget that you can pull from without having to run to the store to make supper.


Learn when certain products go on sale

Seasonal sales

If you look in your local store’s sale flyer regularly, you might begin to notice some patterns.

Stores tend to put certain types of food on sale during certain times of the year.

Some of this is driven by what they think people will buy. For example, brats and hamburger and buns and condiments get top billing in summer ads, but not so much during the winter months.

Likewise, soups and baking supplies tend to go on sale when it’s cold because that’s what people want to buy them.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The stores will sell more products if they keep what their customers want in stock and at a good price.

Closeout sales

Other times, stores will have sales of items they just want off their shelves to make room for new products.

For example, you might have noticed that all the Christmas decorations, candy, and baking supplies go on sale on December 26th. The same thing happens with any leftover items, food or otherwise, from holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, and most other holidays.

Depending on the shelf stability of the product, this can be a great time to stock up on items to add to your stockpile.


Grocery Stockpile on a Budget

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Don’t buy everything with a “sale” sticker

Just because something has a sticker on it that says “sale” doesn’t mean that you’re getting a good deal by buying it.

Sometimes this is just a marketing tactic put on already-popular items to get you into the store thinking you’re getting a good deal.

Once you’re in the store, you’ll probably end up buying more than just that one item you saw in the sale ad.

Have an idea of an item’s usual sale price

To make sure you’re getting a good deal on whatever products you’re adding to your stockpile, try to have an idea of what certain types of items should cost.

This applies to both regular and sale prices. If you’re familiar with both price points, you’ll be able to tell if the sale price you see if a good deal, or just a marketing tactic that might save you a few cents.

If keeping track of all those different prices makes your mind spin, you’re not alone! In this post, I talk about how to start a grocery price list to keep track of sale prices.

Once you have this list, you can see which sales you should take advantage of and stock up on those items!

Have a list of things to stockpile

Want to start a stockpile but you’re not sure what to start with?

My favorite place to start is with shelf-stable foods. Building up a freezer inventory is wonderful too if you have a deep freezer, but shelf-stable foods will stay good even if your power goes out.

Here are my favorite categories of things to stockpile on a budget.


  • Canned Goods
    • Fruit
    • Vegetables
    • Beans
    • Soup
    • Tuna/canned meats
  • Pasta
  • Crackers/Chips
  • Baking supplies
    • Flour
    • Sugar


  • Frozen fruit
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Meat
    • Chicken
    • Pork
    • Beef
    • Lamb
  • Dairy
    • Cheese
    • Milk (yes, it can be frozen! I haven’t done it yet, but I want to try.)

You can take this list and expand it with types of items you buy on a regular basis that you wouldn’t mind have a few extras of on hand.

Then, next time you get a sale flyer, you can grab your price list and your stockpile list and see if you can stock up on a good deal!

If you need more ideas for what to stockpile, Kristen from Joyfully Thriving has a wonderful list of common pantry items you can stock up on! If you’re “all in” on building up your own stockpile, she has a whole series on how it can save you money in the long run!

Prepare for your storage conditions

Also keep in mind what the conditions of your grocery stockpile storage space are like.

When you’re deciding what to stockpile, you might need to take into account how damp your space is (if you’re using your basement or garage) or if any insects can get to it.

If this is the case, clear plastic tubs and lids can help keep thing like pasta, flour, and crackers from being ruined.

Stockpile things your family will actually eat

There’s no use in buying and storing a lot of something if no one (or only one person) is going to eat it.

Buy doing this, you risk that food expiring before it gets used up.

When you’re building a grocery stockpile on a budget, the last thing you want to happen is for some of that money to end up in the trash can.

Grocery Stockpile on a Budget 2

Photo by Luisa Brimble on Unsplash


Keep a freezer/pantry inventory

Once you start building your freezer/pantry inventory, it may get harder to keep track of everything you have.

To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, I suggest keeping a spreadsheet or checklist (physical or virtual) to track what you’ve bought or used so you can see at a glance what you have on hand.

If you want to start with a pre-made template, there are plenty to choose from online and on Pinterest.

Invest in organizational tools for your stockpile

Once you put more on your shelves or in your freezer, it can get hard to find specific items if you’re not organized.

I like using containers to divide my storage spaces, especially the freezer, into different compartments. That way, when I’m looking for something, I know what area to start looking in!

If you’re storing items on shelves, it can be a bit easier to keep track of things and sort them by type.

I like to keep all of each type of food stacked behind each other in a line so they’re easy to find. You can also sort things by type, like canned fruit, canned vegetables, baking supplies, etc.

Now that you’re familiar with the basics of building a grocery stockpile on a budget, you can start your own!


Check out my Real Food on a Budget series:

  1. How to Afford Healthy Food on a Budget
  2. How to Save Money on Grass-fed Organic Meat
  3. Where to Find Affordable Organic Produce
  4. How to Get the Most Nutrient Dense Foods for Your Money
  5. Where to Buy Natural and Organic Products on a Budget
  6. How to Build a Grocery Stockpile on a Budget (you’re here!)
  7. Super Simple Tips for Packing Lunches (So You Can Save Money)

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  1. Kristi German says:

    Another great idea that goes hand in hand with this is to create a price book. In a small notebook, create a page with each item you buy regularly. When you get home from the store, enter the date and price and where you purchased (letter or color code). Over time you will notice trends such as sales and markdowns. You could also use the store flyers you get in the mail or store apps.
    Now you have a good idea of the best sale price and how often it happens. You can time your stockups around sales and buy enough at the sale price to get to the next sale. Or if you see something, you can check to see if it is a good price or not.
    I did this at one time but got busy and discontinued it.

    1. That’s exactly what I (plan to) do with my price list! Right now I just keep them in my head, but I know it would be a lot easier to keep track of them if they’re written down.

  2. Kara says:

    Super great tips! I’m trying to get some shelves up in my laundry room so that I have some more storage space for things like “emergency food.”

    1. My food storage shelves are in my “laundry room” as well! Well, they’re in the same corner of our unfinished basement, if you can consider that a laundry room! I’ve heard of lots of people starting their food storage with not much extra space. It’s possible, you just need to get creative with how/where you store things!

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