Beginner Tips Continued… Stocking Up: How much and is it too much?

It’s been a while since I’ve featured a Beginners Tip! Before you continue reading, you should know that I’m not the know all of everything coupons, and I take a low-key approach to my couponing method. I try to get the max benefit for the least amount of time and effort. It’s not for everyone, but it works for my busy lifestyle.

The topic of this tip: Creating a Stock Pile, how much to buy and when to buy it.

Most coupon blogs you read will tell you that sales cycle about every 3 months (or less in the south). In other words, if  your favorite laundry detergent is on sale for $.99 this week, your likely to see a similar sale on the same product in about 3 months (up to 6). So is this true? Sometimes! I’m not an extreme veteran, I’ve been couponing for few years and I’m not 100% convinced of this general rule. For example, I purchased Cascade Action Packs for under $.25/bag  over 2 years ago at Albertsons and haven’t seen it that cheap (locally) since (I wish I had bought more!). Products may cycle in sales every 3 months, and the release of coupons tend to follow suit, but there is no surety that both will happen at the same time and combine with a separate, outside deal (such as a Catalina promotion). It is usually a combination of these three events that produce an actual rock bottom price. When new products are released, manufacturers generally release higher value coupons, that occasionally drop in value as the product becomes more popular. This is not always the case, but it does happen. Another exception to the 3 month rule is applies to some products, such as toothpaste, that go on sale much more frequently. You can always count on a free or cheap price for toothpaste, probably every 2 or 3 weeks at most. So what’s my point? Well, it is true that a majority of products cycle through sales every 3 or so months (cereal is a classic and reliable example), but it’s not always the case and you can’t always count on it.

So how much should you buy? Personally, I like to be prepared. I like to have a reasonable supply of food and non-food essentials in my house at all times in case of an emergency. It’s a crazy world out there! If something horrible happened and my husband lost is job or a medical emergency sucked our savings dry, I like knowing I could live on my food supply with little supplemental costs This means a year supply of the basics and a 3 month supply of more perishable foods. Like most of you, I want to buy at the lowest price possible. If I find fabric softener for $.25 (or free), that I normally see for $.99 you better believe I’m going to pre-order and fill up my year supply. If I can’t get my hands on 24 bottles, or I can’t pre-order, I’ll settle for less, but a year supply would be my goal. If the price is $.99, a good price but not rock bottom, I might buy a few months worth, just in case.

Buying a years worth during one sale saves me time! I don’t have to worry about restocking every 3 months. I can take a break from the stores if I choose. I can relax knowing our expenses would be minimal if something tragic does happen.

You don’t have to do this in one day! Stock up on one item a week, or one item a month. You will not always be able to buy a years worth during one sale, especially with more and more couponers shopping the stores, but you can build to a year over a period of a few months. The real point is, if it’s a rock bottom price on an essential, I buy up to a year supply, if possible. On a side note, if you can’t pre-order, do be considerate of other shoppers. I don’t endorse buying 40 like items if there are only 41 on the shelf :).

*Not all products are essentials. Milano Melts are not in my year supply, but I do enjoy a bag or two at a good price. That is the beauty of using coupons. It’s not all about stocking up!

What do I consider essentials and what are my “good enough to buy a few months” prices?

Hygiene products

  • Toilet paper – under $.25 per roll
  • Deodorant – free, or $.50 or less if I love the brand
  • Hair Care, Body Wash – free, or $.50 or less if I love the brand
  • toothpaste, Toothbrush, Floss - free
  • Razors – under $1 for Gillette Proglide, free for any other razor
  • Feminine Hygiene – pads and liners  free, tampons $2ish for a 40 ct box Tampax


  • General Cleaners/Bathroom Cleaner – under $1 for green, $.50 for anything else
  • Laundry Detergent – $.99 – $.50
  • Liquid Dish Detergent – $.25 or less
  • Automatic Dish Detergent – $1 for average size pack
  • Paper Towels – $.50 per roll


  • Diapers – $3 for a Jumbo Pack
  • Wipes – under $.02 per wipe
  • Baby shampoo/wash/hair – $.50 or less
  • Desitin – under $1 per 4 oz tube

Food – Food prices seems to vary more by region and there is much of it! here are a few common items, leave a comment if you have more if you want to know a specific product.

  • Cereal – $1 if I love the cereal, $.75 – $.50 for anything else
  • Butter – $2 or less per pound
  • Granola bars – $.70 or less per box
  • Cheese – $2/lb
  • Oatmeal – $.50 for canister or box of single serves
  • Pasta – $.50 – free
  • Pasta Sauce – $1 or less (depending on brand)
  • Canned Veggies – $.33 (Fred Meyer!)
  • Canned fruit – $.50 or less

Any price less than in these examples, is a year supply stock up price for me!


  • This was very helpful. I was just going to look this up since I’d like to stockpile on some baby diapers, wipes, toilet paper, dish soap. How about dryer sheets? Soap bars? kleenex?

    • Dryer sheets – You can usually find a 40 cy box for under $.80, but I’ve seen them free at Rite Aid and Snuggle free at various stores multiple times.

      Soap bars – I stocked up huge on Dove bars for less than $.10 a bar. The Ivory 3 pack are free at Walmart right now with $1/1 coupon:

      Kleenex – I don’t buy Kleenes. I am so cheap! I use TP, nad only splurge on a box if I or my kids noses are scabbed over from the TP :). I’ve seen it on sale for about $.50 a box. But I don’t know what a stock up price would be.

      • My secret (or maybe not so secret) way to get tissue for cheap is to buy the Seventh generation brand at Fred Meyer when they have it 50% off. The are normally priced at around 2.09 and there always seems to be $1.00 off coupons in the paper for them or on their site. With the sale and coupon I normally spend about $.09 per box. $.25 or less is my stock up price. If I can’t get it for that them TP it is.

        • The Seventh Generation sale is this week! It’s only 40% off this week, but I’ll get a post up with the deals. Thanks for the comment!

  • This is fabulous info! I know nothing about couponibg or ads or what’s a good price but I have been wanting to learn so thank you sooooooo much for this info! & thank you for posting the sales & coupon links! You are my hero!!! 🙂

  • yes, this was helpful. thank you- how do you get so many coupons to use at once? do you print a bunch of time or do you get them from the local paper? thanks for the infomation!!!

  • This is wonderful info. I almost like to see one of our most common item on the shelf. I cringed the other day when my husband bought 4 things at the store full price because he needed them for the weekend and I knew I had a coupon in my bag for all four. So, I think I take a different strategy, to try to save a little bit of money. I do like to keep lots of hair products on hand. Hate running out.

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