Time to stock the pantry? Then, it's time to hit a case lot sale!!! These crazy fun events at your local grocery store are a shelf cooker's best friend to feed a family on a budget. Conquer the case lot sale with our guide to take full advantage. Pluss get bonus tips on where to store all that extra stuff!
Have you been shelf cooking by using up what you have before going to buy more? Awesome!!! There's one tricky side effect of doing this though… Sooner or later you'll have to restock your pantry stash! If you're smart, you'll adopt the strategy of buying one for now and two for later so that you always have your basic necessities on hand!
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However, if you plan and make room in your budget, you can take advantage of case lot sales. You know, the special savings events at your local grocery chain! They can be a super-quick way to stock your pantry with the items your family uses the most. But what is a case lot sale, and how do you even save money? Keep reading and we'll share the 411!
WHAT THE HECK IS A CASE LOT SALE?
A case lot sale is when a store advertises an event where it sells items in bulk, at a “case discount.” Then, you buy by the case for a great deal. Case lot sales only last for a short amount of time, though, so you've got to strike while the iron is hot! This is shelf cooking at its core—you buy what’s on sale and keep a stockpile in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Then when you need it, you have your very own stockpile to “shop from” rather than paying full price. Pretty amazing, right?
Before you hit a case lot sale, plan to use as much of your grocery budget as you can spare to get that pantry stocked up! We usually do this by participating in Shelftember, where we really use what we've got and only spend $25 on groceries each week during that month. This will help you stash away the cash to really hit the sale hard! Then for Stocktober, you stock up, by putting at least half of your regular monthly budget towards building a stockpile of your staples.
Don't go crazy, though! Not everything is really a great deal, so do the math. Our rule of thumb is to look for items that are marked down 15-20% or more than the regular price in order to make it worth buying an entire case.
WHICH STORES HOLD CASE LOT SALES?
We're willing to bet that most major grocery stores near you have SOME sort of case lot or bulk discount sale, even if it's not a regularly-scheduled, advertised event. The first stop to find out is to check the store's website to see if any case lot sales are listed. Here are a few grocery chains we're aware of that hold sales, so shop it up!
- Winco Foods – Save an extra 5% on already low prices when you buy in bulk.
- Smith's Food and Drug – Holds annual case lot sales in early January where you don't even need to purchase the entire case to save.
- Dollar Tree – Discount varies by store, but has been reported at 5% savings when you buy in bulk.
- Sam's Club – Check with your local warehouse, but shoppers report that they can save up to 49% on meat when they buy in bulk.
- Associated Food Stores – This grocery group often holds case lot sales and includes Macey’s, Lin’s, Dan’s, Dick’s Market, Fresh Market, and Stokes. These stores tend to hold their sales in the fall months of September and October. #Stocktober
- Whole Foods Market – Purchase just about any item by the case at Whole Foods and you can save 10%.
Pro Tip: If you can't find any information on the store's website, then head directly to the store and ask a store manager what's available!
THINGS YOU SHOULD BUY AT A CASE LOT SALE
What you buy and how much REALLY depends on your grocery budget and the amount of space you have available for storage. Once you know that, then shop a case lot sale to your heart's content, just so long you stick to your budget! Here are some general guidelines so you know which things are best to stock up on and which are not so hot.
FOCUS ON THESE STAPLES
When you've got your sights set on stocking up, focus on items with a nice, long shelf life. The longer the better. Here are our favorite things to snatch up at a case lot sale:
- Canned goods
- Boxed non-perishables
- Meat and poultry
- Dried beans, lentils, and rice
- Frozen vegetables and fruits
- Nut butters
- Dried pasta
- Whole grains
All of these items are shelf-stable and will keep their quality for a long time, so they're great options to snatch up.
Pro Tip: ONLY stock up on items that your family will actually use! Sure, lima beans may be on sale… But if you won't use those in any dishes or eat them on their own, then you'll just end up being wasteful with your food and money!
PASS ON THESE THINGS
Unless your household really uses a lot of these items, you generally won't use them before they go rancid or stale:
- Nuts and seeds
- Flour (though you can freeze whole grains for up to six months)
- Fresh produce
The first time you hit the case lot sale, proceed with care. Focus on things that you KNOW you will use and then keep tabs on your supply to see what you really used up before buying again. Check this post for a list of how long you can freeze foods (and how to prevent freezer burn).
WHERE TO STORE YOUR CASE LOT SALE STUFF
The first places you'll fill up include your kitchen fridge, freezer, pantry, and cupboards. Once those are filled to the gills, where can you stash your case lot supply? We've seen so many creative ideas from fellow shelf cookers to get your wheels turning:
- Extra chest or upright freezer
- Empty space in bedroom closets
- Garage shelving
- Below a staircase
- Inside furniture that has storage space
- The laundry room
- Under beds
All of these places are great options for food if they aren't currently used. We've even heard of freezer hacks such as stashing an extra chest freezer in a guest bedroom and tossing a tablecloth over the top of it. Voila! A unique piece of furniture with a secret purpose.
If you are determined to stock up and save on the items your family uses most, then case lot sales just may be the thing to help you reach your goal.
Comment below and tell us if your area does case lot sales and if you ever take advantage of them! Be sure to join our Facebook Shelf Cooking Community for more great ideas from fellow shelf cookers!
Looking for more great ways to rock your home and family?
- Come see how we save money on groceries without clipping a single coupon!
- See what pantry staples we always keep stocked.
- Check out our Stocktober challenge for buying on a budget.
Dollar Tree is very underrated. I went the other day and picked up some great staples. What I did notice for common brands like Reynolds Wrap foil, they literally make it in smaller quantities, so you’re buying $1.25 worth of foil vs. what you’d get at the grocery store. Either way, if you’re on a budget, a great option for sure.