A Reminder about the Importance of Strategic Stockpiling

I was at Target earlier today and wanted to pick up that great deal on Edy’s ice cream. It is on sale for $2.99, normally around $4.50 – and when you buy five, you get a $5 Target gift card.

Even without a single coupon, that’s just $1.99 each after gift card – which is easily $2.50 – $3 less than the normal shelf price.

There were two women in front of me at the Edy’s freezer door – I assumed taking advantage of the gift card deal. The first lady picked out three gallons of ice cream, put them in her basket and moved on.

I was so surprised. Maybe she had missed the big signs hanging on the freezer doors promoting the sale? I shyly said to her, “You know, if you get two more gallons, you will get a $5 gift card at checkout. That’s like getting back $1 per gallon.”

She thought about it for a moment and said, “Really? Hmmm… Yeah, but I don’t think we need five gallons,” and walked on.

I think my jaw may have hit the floor!

With the sale, she was paying $9 for three gallons. If she had bought two more gallons, she would have paid $10 (after the $5 gift card). One more dollar for TWO more gallons of Edy’s ice cream?! Why pass that up?

It wasn’t like she said, “I don’t have room to store five gallons.” She specifically said, “I don’t think we need five gallons.”

But that’s the thing about strategic stockpiling. You may not NEED five gallons of ice cream today, but if you’re anyway buying three, odds are you will eat five gallons before the summer’s over. No?

Strategic stockpiling is a complete change in mindset from the way most of us – including that woman at Target today – have learned how to shop.

We aren’t just buying for right now. We are buying for the future.

We are buying in “bulk” when the items that our family eats (and obviously, her family eats ice cream – she was buying three gallons!) hit their rock bottom price.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume her family eats one gallon of ice cream every two weeks. (Light ice cream eaters ;-).) Not on sale, that works out to be about $2.25/week, based on the regular shelf price (which varies between $4.50 and $5.25).

Now, if you strategically stockpile when that Edy’s is on sale for $1.99 per gallon (or as low as $1.49 with coupons), instead of paying $2.30 per week, you are paying just $1 or even $.75 per week. On ice cream alone, you are saving $1.30 – $1.55 per week.

Do that across just ten or fifteen items in your normal grocery cart and you’re saving $70 or more a month – simply from strategically stockpiling a handful of the items that your family most frequently eats.

As I said, I was pretty shocked that she passed on the ice cream. Next time her family has a hankering for Edy’s Slow Churned Mint Chocolate Chip, she’ll be paying a 200% premium. Shame!

For more on strategic stockpiling, checkout some of these oldie-but-goodie posts:

Are you a strategic stockpiler? Have you found that it helps you cut your grocery budget?



  1. Here is where I might disagree with you. When it comes to non-food items, I think you’re spot on. But with food– especially candy, ice cream, things that aren’t so healthy for us– I think stockpiling, even strategically, can be dangerous. We have 5 gallons of ice cream in our freezer instead of 3, well the kids or the husband or even the moms (!) might just eat more ice cream than they normally would, which means you’ll run out faster and need to re-stock sooner. And if that’s the case, it’s not strategic stockpiling at all; it’s eating something you normally wouldn’t eat and then spending more to get more of it. And that’s not good for us. This is my biggest problem with the CVS gas card sale, for instance. Most of what is eligible is candy or chips; stuff I try to avoid anyways but deals like this make it much harder.

    I don’t disagree with the concept of buying more to save more. But only if it really helps stretch that dollar and not the waistline.

  2. I have to agree with Elanit on this one. With treats like ice cream and candy, I find that the more we have, the faster we consume it! I’d rather buy less, and eat less!

  3. Tali Simon says

    I was going to say the same thing. I KNOW that if we had five gallons of ice cream in our freezer, we’d go through them more quickly than we should.

    I recently tried making ice cream myself to save money (and because it seemed fun), and found that the homemade version came to about NIS 12 — not bad, compared to the store’s NIS 20 for roughly the same amount.

    (For those of you in the States, that’s about $3.50 homemade, $5.90 store-bought. Expensive, I know. And homemade tasted better.)

  4. Yes, stockpiling does add up your savings for sure! I stocked up on soda last week and didn’t have to buy any and won’t for a while. We are trying to tame the beast of excess soda drinking, but still…stock up while it’s low. I agree with you!

    Living So Abundantly: New meme this coming Thursday, July 7, 2011, Give Back Thursday–join the fun!

  5. I kind of agree with both points of view — (don’t you love how I take such a firm stand?). I guess it kind of depends on your “weaknesses”. For instance, if I can get a bunch of chocolate super cheap, I’m going to eat it until its gone. That may be because of a variety of things…. a. I’m weak, b. I rarely buy chocolate because its so expensive so I gorge myself when I do, c. it’s there.

    I’d like to say that I only only buy healthy non-processed stuff for us, but I would really be lying. I constantly have teenagers hanging out so junk food goes fast. However, I find that for the things I regularly keep in the house we don’t go through it any faster than normal, even if I have great stockpile. But the special treats, or the things that I’m only buying because its a rock bottom price so I can justify the indulgence, we do tend to snarf that stuff up much faster. (And I do regularly keep ice cream in the house — and it seems to go at a pretty normal pace –)

  6. When I first started stockpiling, I found that I was having that issue – overeating. Hubby and kids didn’t understand why it wasn’t ok to go through the 200 granola bars in a week! The solution that I came up with was rationing by mom. I have a freezer in my basement and put shelving next to it. This area holds our stockpiled items and is off limits to anyone but mom. (And it doesn’t hurt that it’s out of the way in the dark, unfinished corner of the basement where no one wants to go!) During my weekly grocery trip, I also “shop” my stockpile and replenish items from it. I still save $$$, and hubby and kiddos aren’t consuming twice their weight in ice cream each week! This system works out well for me.

  7. Interesting. I get where you are coming from in terms of stockpiling “junk”, but for us – we know we are going to allow that stuff in *limited* quantities. I wouldn’t buy it if we weren’t going to allow ourselves or our kids to eat it at all (with the possible exception of it being a money-maker, in which case I might buy it to donate).

    But since we know we’re okay with ice cream as the occasional after-dinner treat – especially in the hot, hot summer – I want to pay as little as possible. No reason to pay $4.50 for a gallon when we “need” it when I can pay $1.49 and shop my freezer.

    Yes, we do have a deep freeze, which is where all five ice creams went (we happened to have ice cream in our regular freezer already ;-)). For me, the big savings is totally worth having to exercise a little bit of restraint.

  8. All good comments. Just to clarify: each one of us makes the decision that’s best for our families. I’m cool with that. If you know that your family won’t eat the ice cream (or drink the soda or eat the chocolate) faster than they normally would even with lots of it in the house, go nuts with the stockpiling. Makes total sense. My only point is that strategic stockpiling should be strategic on multiple levels: not just for our wallets but for these other variables as well. 🙂

  9. I, too, tend to “hide” some of the stuff I don’t want over consumed. Also, I find it great to stockpile stuff we like, but don’t go crazy about. Most recent example: the Teddy Graham deal that Mara wrote about last week. They have been good fillers instead of other similar stuff not on sale ( thanks, Mara!). As for the ice cream sale, I may take advantage of it, but not get too much of our absolute favorite flavors. This is a good, frugal compromise for our family.

  10. Chavelamomela says

    Mara – you would also need to LIKE Edy’s ice cream 😉

  11. You hit the main rule of saving money right on the head: don’t buy it when you need it, buy it rock-bottom cheapest and stockpile it!
    I disagree with those who say, “if we have 5 gallons, we’ll eat 5 gallons.” Well, maybe, but that’s assuming you don’t have anything else around to eat. If you have a freezer you can ‘hide’ a few gallons under other stuff. I do the same with cereal. I get it cheap but I know there will be five boxes open so I put it in a cabinet no one knows to look inside. Sneaky stuff, LOL!
    PS–five containers of ice cream is a lot more reasonable than 100 candy bars, which is just about what I’ve seen people on “Extreme Couponers” buy.

    • bratschegirl says

      If “if we have 5 gallons, we’ll eat 5 gallons” isn’t true for you or your family, then more power to you, but it wouldn’t work for me. I will happily pay a bit more on the specific occasion when I decide to have some in order not to have to wrestle with knowing it’s there the rest of the time. Peace of mind is worth something too.

  12. I am going to vote with the dont-stock-up-on-ice-cream crowd, since I’m always trying to *avoid* buying ice cream! But if something like beans or rice or tortillas go on sale…I’m there. 🙂

  13. My wife regularly sees people at the supermarket buying ONE item of an item that is BOGO (Buy One Get One free) at the time. When she points it out to them, most of the time their response is “but I don’t need two”!

    • EXACTLY my point. Thanks, Mark! I think everyone is getting overly fixated on the ice cream aspect of this story. The point is this: Stock up when the items that your family eats/uses are at their rock bottom prices. That way you never have to pay full price (= over-price) again!

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