Stocking up vs stockpiling

The second part of Proverbs 31:18 in the New Living Translation says, “she watches for bargains.”

In today’s terms, that would mean shopping sales and using coupons, which many of us already do. But if you can find a spot for a pantry, you can go an extra step. A basement corner, and unused cabinet in your kitchen, or even a spot in a spare room might do. Dave and I live in a condo, and after much thought we decided to use a closet in our dining room. Having extra food on hand will allow you, like the Proverbs 31 woman, to have “no fear of the future.”

Once you have the pantry set up, fill it slowly every week. As you shop you will be purchasing food to use during the upcoming week. This is your “needs” shopping. As well, you will see items on sale that you know will be used in the near future. That is your chance to stock up, put them in your pantry, and no have to pay full price for them when you need them. If you have coupons or if you get bonus points on store loyalty programs, so much the better.

We all know the feeling… we are at the supermarket or the drug 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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