Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stocking Up

If certain people saw this post, I would be accused of being a hoarder. I certainly do hoard, but only items that my family can use-- like food and soap and shampoo. I don't hoard clothing, or books or newspapers, I routinely go through rooms and discard, donate or sell items that are no longer being used or broken, or if it can be recycled and reused, it goes out to the garage or basement.

I was once accused of hoarding cats. I was 'sick' for having so many cats. We had 7 at the time. I admit, kittens are a weakness of mine, my kryptonite, and I found it hard to say no while looking at a kitten. I've gotten stronger now, and have been able to "just say no" when someone offers a free kitten. Unlike cat hoarders you read about in the news, our cats are all fixed and in good health and have plenty of food and water. We have 4 left from the original 7, plus 1 from my aunt and uncle that we took in when they had to spend lots of time in the hospital following an accident.

Anyway, I was reading an article recently about how people save money when it comes to food. It listed many ways to save, such as more home cooked meals and less eating out; more cooking from scratch and less heat-and-eat meals; using coupons; waiting for sales; and making menu plans that turn leftovers into a whole 'nother meal. It listed nothing new for me to learn, I already use a lot of those ideas and have been for years.

For example, I get coupons from my MIL who gets coupons from an aunt and her daughter. By the time they get to me, I will have several duplicates of the same coupon. The local food store is having a 2-day special on tomato soup-- 3 for $1. Limit 6. Limits don't stop me, I'll just go back in after I buy 6 and get 6 more. I also happened to have coupons, multiple coupons. With the sale price and the coupon, I've picked up 6 cans for 26 cents each. That's a good deal.

Is that hoarding to you? Buying 24 cans of tomato soup for 26 cents a can? We use a lot of tomato soup, in several kinds of dishes such as stews, shepard's pie, and sloppy joes and then also as, well, soup.

I will also do price comparison. Which store charges less for similar items. I'll try the store brand, which is often cheaper than name brands. Sometimes, though, the name brand really does taste better. Those big warehouse places? They don't always have the best bang for your buck. A couple weeks ago, I saw a sale on canned corn. My corn in the garden did poorly this year, so we have to buy instead and we also have a preference for this particular brand. One store had them on sale; 2 for $1 (they have been cheaper in past years, but with inflation... this is the best I have seen). I happened to be at the warehouse store where they had a pack of 8 cans for $6 (or something like that). Do the math. I sent Hubby to buy me 24 cans of corn on his way to work one day.

Sometimes, in the coupons, there will be a 'free' coupon. I might not use that particular item, but if it's free, I'll get it. Then I'll take that item and donate it to the food banks or to an organization that helps people. We don't have a dog (yet), but I frequently see coupons for free bags of treats, a can of food or a bag of dry food. I'll use them, then take the dog food to the animal shelter. They are always in need of food and other items, and it didn't cost me anything, except a little detour to the shelter.

I don't consider what I do as hoarding. I consider it being a smart shopper, saving money that we don't have a lot of, and making sure my family has what it needs to be healthy. We practice FIFO- First In, First Out- and rotate the pantry items accordingly. We freeze what we cannot eat fast enough, like when the local produce store had green peppers on sale for cheap and I bought 10 on the spot (another garden item that didn't do well this past summer). And I will also keep my eye out for 'day old' items, such as bread or meat. Prices get slashed half off sometimes, and I can modify my meal plan to accommodate purchases like these.

Any other "hoarders" like me out there?


mishkazena said...


You are definitely not a hoarder. Just a smart and thrifty shopper. I laughed because I used to do this coupon thing, waiting until the store has special deals, then I purchase the items in bulk. Once the cashier ends giving me money instead of me paying. That was fun, but I don't do the grocery shopping any more.

Hoarding for pets... well as long as you can care properly for the cats, providing them their needs, etc, that's not hoarding. It becomes a hoarding if one cannot care for them properly, keeping the house clean, feeding them sufficiently, and under vet care. Unfortunately that word hoarder has been abused too often to mean that someone has too many pets. That's not what it really means.

Karen Mayes said...

Same here... I'd make a beeline to a few-day old bakery stuff at a supermarket, which are often linger around $1 or less, and buy them and freeze them. I also carefully inspect the meat products which are moved to a certain shelf just before thrown out, so that I could buy them and freeze them right away. I use coupons, but I often prefer to buy store brand products.

You could try Angel Food Ministries... the link is

It is good to stock up.

Lisa said...

Count me in! I'm more like Karen in buying day old bread (at the Dead Bread store) and freezing it, checking the markdown meats, etc. I haven't been as good at snapping up fresh produce on sale and prepping it for the freezer.

Something to work for!

barefoot gardener said...

That is definitely not hoarding. That is getting the most bang for your buck when you have a family to feed!

Mr. Barefoot makes fun of me, because I do the "buy the limit, run it out to the car, go back and buy more" thing. Or I call him after I have filled the limit a couple times and tell him to stop and pick up another limit on the way home.

Nothing makes a person feel better than a pantry full of good food. There is something so comforting about knowing that no matter what craziness happens in your life, the kids will be fed.

Wendy said...

The Mormons are required by their religious doctrines to have a years' worth of food stored at any given time. They aren't considered "hoarders" - and I would not say that you are, either.

Hoarding is related to greed, and a hoarder is one who has way more of whatever than he/she can use. That doesn't sound like what you do. You're not storing up extra and then throwing it away because it goes bad.

I was chuckling when I read your post, though, because you sound like Amy Dacyzyn, a.k.a. The Frugal Zealot. I wish I'd read her newsletter back in the 90s when she was still writing it. I might have learned a thing or two :). As it is, I'm not very frugal, though I aspire to be, and while I'm getting better, old habits do die hard ;).

I think you're doing great, and I love reading about your low cost solutions (telephone cord clothesline? Awesome!). You're quite an inspiration to me.

jenny said...

Mishkazena-- I learned from my mom and aunt-- major sale and coupon shoppers! I'm relieved that my husband is the same as me, and doesn't protest when I ask him to get something on his way to work.

I don't care how many animals a person has, as long as they are in good health and being cared for. I knew a woman with over 30 cats, but you could tell she took care of them and they were all fixed. A friend of mine has 8 dogs. Too many for my taste, but if she is happy and the dogs are happy, who am I to criticize her?

Karen-- You can get really good deals on that day old meat! If it's ground beef, I'll cook it up as soon as I get home and freeze it in portions for later. Sometimes, with coupons, the name brand is cheaper than the store brand, but half the time, I buy the store brand, too.

Lisa-- It's very rare I get the day old bread at the store I shop at. I think I don't get there early enough. But I always seem to find the day old meat.

Barefoot-- that's what I do-- buy the limit, drop it off, then run back in for more and I make sure I go to a different cashier, too. lol My husband is more brave than me-- he will get two limits worth and ask to be rung up separately and he says they never say anything, but with my luck, they'd probably say something to me!! lol

That's exactly how I feel, nothing like a stocked pantry so that if we don't have money to shop that week, we still have food to eat!

jenny said...

Wendy-- Thank you, you've made me feel better with your definitions! I don't care what other people think of me, but sometimes it's exasperating to hear what they say. In the long run though, in tough times, I'll be way better prepared than they will with my so-called hoarding habits!

We still have our weak moments and get a little wasteful, but those are happening less and less now. YOU inspire me with all that your grow in your little yard! Think you could come here in the Spring and help me? Then I'll come up and help you next? :o)

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Smart YES, Hoarder NOT! Just sounds like a great plan to me. Who knows, what if you couldn't get to the store, you could still feed yourselves and stay safe.

True there are hoarders, I have a friend who is sweet, but a little off her rocker, she will buy a quantity of something like yeast that she could never use in a lifetime, just because it is cheaper per pound. By the time she freezes her 10# of yeast for 10 years, she has spent more in electricity than she saved in the original purchase. She needs a plan like you and your family.

jenny said...

Trapper- that's what my husband says: if we ever get snowed in, we don't have to worry about eating. And living where we live, they don't plow our country roads right away, either.

I have a friend like yours, who also buys mass quantities of something simply because it was CHEAP. I try to say that she would save even more by NOT buying it, but it falls on deaf ears.

In my case, none of this food will go to waste, and the majority of it will be eaten up within 6 months.