Around here, October is the month of stocking up before the holidays and winter season! It's time to focus on growing your food stores so you can continue Shelf Cooking like a champ. Use our best tips and learn how to stock up on a budget!
We made it to the end of Shelftember! Hopefully by this point, you have thoroughly cooked through your old and forgotten ingredients from the depths of your freezer and pantry. And if you missed this year's Shelftember challenge, there is always next year!
Now that we have made great use of the oldest items in our kitchen, we are ready to build up our food storage again. Enter….STOCKTOBER! (Stocking up in October… We're so clever. 😉 ) The perfect time to get ahead for all the holiday cooking to come!
Now for the month of October, we're going back to our regular grocery budgets. BUT…the challenge is that each week, HALF of your grocery budget will go toward stocking up on items that can be stored and used at a later date.
So, are you ready to get all of the deets and learn how to stock up on a budget? We're breaking it allllll down for you here!
Check out our video on how we stock up on a budget (that's a few years old, FYI!) or click and watch us walk you through building a stockpile below:
HOW THE STOCKTOBER CHALLENGE WORKS
Like we said above, you're going back to your normal monthly grocery budget, which is $100/person/month, starting at $300/month. If you have 4 people in your family, that's 4 x $100 = $400/month for groceries and consumables. Or more importantly, $100/week (since we divide your budget by 4 weeks in the month).
*Note: During times of supply chain issues and inflation (*cough* right now! *cough*) you may need to adjust your budgets up slightly. If you need to plan for ~$125/week you definitely aren't alone!
For the month of Stocktober, you divide that $100/week it in half. $50 goes toward groceries and/or consumables to use right away, and the other $50 can only be spent on stock up items to store and use down the road.
Sounds easy, does it?
Nope. It's not. We promise it's not.
It SOUNDS easy, but there's a lot of strategy that goes into buying bulk, storing, saving, and stocking up on a tight budget. Have no fear, we're pros at this! We've been doing this our entire adult lives and we are so excited to share all of our tips and secret sauce with you.
It's going to be amazing! We promise you'll have PLENTY of money each week for groceries and consumables to use right away. Plus, by the end of the month, you'll have a gorgeous stockpile of food and consumables to swing you in the future when it's either:
- Not in your budget,
- You don't have time to run to the store, or
- It's not on sale and you don't want to waste money paying full-price for something.
Plus, it will help protect and supply your family with necessities when a natural disaster or hard life circumstance hits!
TIPS FOR STOCKING UP AFFORDABLY
Okay, so you have half your grocery budget to stock up on food with… Now what? Our normal rule of thumb is to buy “one for now, two for later.” That amount really helps you stock up in a normal month without going over budget. For the month of Stocktober, only buy “one for now” if you're going to need it now! If you don't need it now, then don't get it unless it's something you can stock up on to use later.
Focus on stocking up on items that:
- Your family will actually eat,
- Will last a long time in the pantry, and
- That you can freeze for later.
TIPS FOR STOCKING UP ON MEAT & PROTEIN
Okay, so here's where we're going to differ a little bit from what the video said… We used to buy bulk meat from a certain supplier, but they've since gone out of business. Now, we're all about shopping that discounted meat at the store!
We have a whole post over how to stock up on and freeze meat that goes into great detail for you. Pretty much any time we go to Walmart and see that beautiful little yellow discounted sticker on meat, we will fit it into our budget and stock up on it!
You can also split a cow or hog with someone to stock up. The only downfall you may run into is not having enough freezer space. A quarter or half of a cow can really fill up a freezer, so make sure you know what you're getting yourself into before buying.
TIPS FOR SHOPPING IN BULK
Costco is the crème de la crème around these parts (although Sam's Club is making its way onto our radar!). So much so that we have a whole page dedicated to everything you need to know about Costco, including:
- What (and what NOT) to buy from Costco,
- How to make the most of your Costco membership,
- How to budget for Costco (in a “normal” month), and
- Insider tips on how to shop at Costco
If you don't have a Costco or don't have a membership to a bulk store, no worries! You can also buy in bulk at your local Walmart or favorite store. Always always be sure to check the price before throwing that bulk food in your cart, though! Usually, the bulk product will be cheaper. BUT, that's not always the case!
No matter where you're shopping, always check the price tag before you buy. Figure out the price per unit and make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck. You'd be surprised at how some bulk items are actually more per unit than the smaller items! Shop smart and you'll easily be able to stock up on a budget.
HOW TO STOCK UP ON PANTRY ITEMS
Sometimes you want to stock up your pantry, but you don't necessarily want to buy bulk. We get it, not everybody wants to eat on a 6-pound can of green beans for weeks on end! This is where case lot sales and stockpiling food comes in handy.
If your local store offers a case lot sale on foods that your family will eat, it's always a good idea to buy a case and save a few dollars while you're at it! This allows you to stock your pantry at a discount and it'll keep you from having to buy that item for a while.
If you're new to stockpiling those kitchen staples and pantry staples, then be sure to check out our stockpiling food 101 post! It has all the best tips you'll need to become a pro at building an affordable stockpile.
EMBRACE THE STOCKTOBER CHALLENGE!
It may sound hard, but you're going to rock stocking up on a budget this month! Remember to focus on the foods and staples your family will eat and really look at what's on sale each time you go to the store. You've got this! Let us know what you're stocking up on in the comments below!
- Did you know you can freeze avocados? Stock up if you find them on sale and throw 'em in the freezer!
- Don't let your food go to waste! Make sure you know how long your food lasts in the fridge and freezer.
- Be sure to freeze your food the correct way to prevent freezer burn!
Get ready to rock Stocktober!