Homestead Hints ~ How to Stock Up

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Out here in the country, life revolves a little differently than it does in the city. We put hard, long hours into making our homestead a self sufficient haven for our families. Homestead Hints will be a series following things that we’ve learned over the last several years on how to make our homestead living a little better. Welcome to the Little Homestead on the Prairie…

Stockpiling isn’t just for couponers, and it isn’t just for survivalists, and it isn’t just for all the crazies out there(yes you know what I’m talking about!). It’s for us country folks too.

Out here, we don’t get to town that often. I’m lucky if I make it there once a week, usually it’s more like twice a month unless we have an appointment. There’s just too many things to do out here and not enough money to pay for gas to be driving to town all the time. So when we go in to get groceries, we make it count. Mostly I only get to town to grocery shop when my co-op orders come in, yes, I make the most of those opportunities. There’s no running back home to get the coupon binder, I have to be ready!

So when we shop we stock up on items that we can get inexpensively. We stock up so we have enough until the next time we get to town. We also stock up until the next time that item is going to be on sale again. But how do you know when items are going to be on sale again and how much you should stock up? Well, today’s the day my crazy sales knowledge will pay off for you. Following is a list of products and roughly how often we should see them on sale. There are also a few months that certain products will be on sale because it’s “National Something Month”. I’ve included those in the list also. Not included in this list is when certain produce is in season. However, I do post that info at the beginning of each month.

Shampoo, Hair Care, ect:
Sales on these run about ever 3 to 6 months. You may see a few deals here and there but plan on having at least a 6 month supply if you don’t want to pay full price.
Shaving Cream:
Both mens and women’s shaving cream will be on sale for a good price only about twice a year, and at different times. Whenever I see a great deal on shaving cream I stock up for at least a year since sales can be sporadic.
These go on sale often and coupons are plentiful. Although it doesn’t hurt to stock up when you can get them for $1 or $2 each.
Cold Meds:
These will only be on sale from about October through December of each year. Otherwise you won’t see sales on them the rest of the year. When you find a good deal, plan on getting enough to last at least a season.

These go on sale often depending on the kind you buy. You don’t need a huge stockpile of these.
Never buy candy in the “off season” when you can get it for $1 or less a bag after Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. Stock up after these holidays. Freeze chocolate candies for later and other candies will last years in the pantry.
Baking Supplies:
These are most often on sale in April, October, and November, before big holidays. When you find sales on these items, stock up.
School and Office Supplies:
School and office supplies start to go on sale in August and last through September. You won’t find other months of the year when office supplies will be cheaper so make sure you stock up on enough to last you a whole year.

Meat will be the best price in March. I don’t buy any meat from the store, only from local ranchers and farmers and I buy about twice a year, maybe a little more frequently on chicken since it’s easier to run out of. Meat is a hard thing to stock up on since it’s so expensive but if you can save up for a few months and buy it in bulk once or twice a year, you will really save.
Cereal brands rotate sales every 6 weeks or so. So if you are a fan of Lucky Charms and it goes on sale, make sure you stock up enough to last you at least 6 weeks.
From May through July you are going to see alot of sales on condiments. The rest of the year? Not so much. Stock up when they hit rock bottom prices in the early summer and try and keep enough on hand until next year.
Paper Towels, Toilet Paper, Tissue:
These items go on sale frequently but not very often for a stock up price. When you can find them on sale for a rock bottom price, stock up on what you can hold. I don’t think you could ever have too many paper goods.

Each month has it’s own special “theme” that the sales seem to revolve around:

Super Bowl and Diet foods month. Weird combo of sales on all kinds of diet food products and snacky junk food products.
Valentine’s Day. It’s all about the chocolate and candy this month. It’s also National Canned Foods month. Lots of sales on canned items.
Frozen Food Month. Anything and everything frozen will be on sale this month. Make sure your freezer is cleaned out by the time March rolls around!
Easter and National Garden Month. We see seeds and all things garden go on sale and all kinds of baking goodies. This will be the best month to stock up on ham. Don’t stock up on gardening supplies this month, wait until the end of the season.
Memorial Day and  Cinco De Mayo. Lots of sales on picnic items and tacos, salsa, ect.
National Dairy Month. Sales on butter, sour cream, yogurt, ect.
National Ice Cream Month, 4th of July, National Canning month. This is the month you stock up on new jars and lids if you need them. Also a good month to buy picnic type foods (cherries, watermelons, buns, brats, ect) And lots of ice cream sales.
Back to School. Take advantage of those office supplies sales. When you can pay $.10 for a pack of pens right now, do it.
More Back to School, and Case Lots Sales. This is your chance to get those pens if you missed out last month and a good chance to stock up on bulk grocery items with case lots sales.
National Seafood Month and Halloween. Don’t buy any candy this month. Wait until the 1st of Nov. Should see lots of sales on all kinds of seafood this month.
Candy clearance and baking sales. Black Friday deals. No national sales this month but it’s stock up on all kinds of baking supplies time before the holidays. This month we will see the best prices on turkeys. Stock up if you have room. I’m not s huge fan of all the “gifty” type stuff they have on sale for Black Friday but it’s a great day to stock up on hats, mittens, and scarves.
Not alot of sales this month, save up your stock up budget to buy Christmas gifts instead! (Actually you should buy those in January when everything is on clearance!)

So when I say, stock up on these items for x amount of time, how much do you need to stock up? That all depends on how much your family uses. A few months ago I started an experiment to see how fast we go through items so I would know much much I need to have on hand of a particular item. I kept a list on top of my stockpiled items and when you took out a new item you wrote on the list what it was and when you took it. Then you marked on the list when you threw it away. For the 2 of us, here’s what I gathered:

Shave Gel: Me, every 3 months, Hubby, every 6 months.
Shampoo: Both, one bottle each every 3 months.
Deodorant: Both, one stick each every 6 months.
Toothpaste: Both, one 6oz tube each every 4 months.

I encourage you to try this little trick and find out how long things last for you. Since I made this list, now I know that if I want to stock up on shave gel for a year, I need to buy 4 bottles.

I know this is alot of info to get all at once so I made these handy PDF charts for you!

Stock Up List

How Long Does It Last

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  1. Fantastic post!!!!!!! I even go as far as using a Sharpie to write the date on the bottle/container (usually Health & Beauty items, moisturizer, toothpaste, etc) when I first open it. Then when it’s gone I can see right there how long it lasted! I will definately use the pdf’s. Thank you so much! You have great ideas!

  2. Good ideas! We are starting to look seriously into this stocking up thing, and I’m researching how to do it well. Thanks for helping!

  3. You’re a genius! Thank you so much for posting on this, I will definitely be using the PDFs! I’m just starting my own household and my goal is to stay as thrifty and budget conscious as possible; your blog has some great ideas to help me get started!

  4. I had some money leftover after this week’s grocery run so I decided to stop at Big Lots discount store on the way home from work. I found Zicam for $2 a bottle. The retail price is $8-9 per bottle. The expiration date is soon, but I don’t think it matters on zinc tablets. I was happy to buy 4 bottles. I also got Kashi cereal for $1.15 and a flu season box of 7 pairs of nitrile gloves, 7 N95 respirators, hand sanitizer and wipes for $2. Also some Zicam brand all natural cough syrup for $2 and a few other good deals as well! That is a fun way to stock up!

  5. My method of stockpiling is I take a $10.00 bill with me when I do my shopping trips on the 1st and 3rd weeks of the month. I will buy that amount of ONE ITEM that is on sale….for example, at the beginning of the month, olives went to .47 cents per can, so I purchased 20 cans. This week, there was a special on 5lb bags of sugar for $1.97, so I bought 5. My stockpile grows with only the things I really use and I don’t feel it at all!

  6. Do any of you go to Food Auctions? we have then in northeast PA and we can save alot of money small hams for 3.00 great way to fill up freezer, just check on for find them. Please they are alot of fun.

  7. Thank you so much for posting this! For our family of 8, I’m always on the lookout on how to save money and have at least a small stockpile. Very awesome!

  8. Great list- just what I needed! Family of 7 and a tight budget means I need to know when and how much to stock up on stuff! Thanks!

  9. Do you live in an area where UPS will delivery to your door or driveway? If so you can purchase food items from, Bobs Red Mill, King Arther Baking Company ships there products, several times a year they have free shipping. I know there items are expensive but once in a while you may need a specialty items from them. So many companies to order from. When making a purchase of any items off the internet – google for free shipping codes for the company you are purchasing from. Or shipping codes for the company. I’ve saved lots of money on shipping this way. I placed an order recently & I my eyes rolled when they wanted almost $18 dollars for shipping. I googled and found a code – flat rate shipping of $1.99. < so much less expensive than my time and gas. We are blessed to have stores that have bulk bins, (diff. the way to go when buying spices !) we can scoop what we need or buy ie a 25lb bag of oats, pasta or beans what ever are needs happen to be. Buying bulk saves so much money. Enjoy your day.

  10. Thank you for this lovely site. Saving money is always a challenge. I try to make it an adventure by shopping at different stores..ones I don’t usually frequent. I usually find a bargain or two.

  11. Thanks for this excellent post! I am not a stockpiler by nature, but I am certainly learning how valuable it can be for my family

  12. Just wanted to add for those of you that are willing to take buying in bulk and homemade items a bit farther. I have found lots of recipes for shampoos, bodywashes, conditioners, home remedy medications, you can make great use of bulk items by making some of these items yourself. I started making my own facewash for much less than what I paid for store bought. Coconut oil and baking soda mixed together. Very cheap and great for your skin. I cheapened up what we spent on medications by only buying what we couldn’t make. I usually only keep ibuprofen, Tylenol and some benadryl for allergic reactions on hand. If you make your own cough syrups and cough drops, they will not only be safer for your kids but also not full of dyes and hidden sugars and other potential harmful chemicals. Store bought medication can be very expensive even if it is the cheap brand. If you have a cold that lasts a few weeks, you may go through several bottles oeducation which can add up, homemade can go much farther.