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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Why I Bought 180 Packages of Chocolate

 

On Friday I got an amazing deal for Reese's Pieces from a scratch and dent store that I passed en route to a friend's house. Each box containing 18 packages was being sold for $2.85 or nearly 16 cents per package. So I bought 10 boxes, for a total of $28.50 for 180 packages. I posted it on Facebook and I got a lot of surprised reactions. Many people in shock as to the price, but many more asking what I'd do with quite so many packages. Does anyone "need" 180 packages of chocolate?

So while I could just answer why I bought these, I realized that what is missing in this discussion is the context in which I bought 180 packages of chocolate. 

I don't just buy a ton of chocolate when I see it on sale, I buy a ton of everything. When I see gluten free cereal at 95 cents a box, I don't just buy one box, I buy 20. (Or more. Depends on how I can carry things.) When I see boxes of gluten free flour mix on sale at $1.40 a box or less, I buy 15. When I see cans of hearts of palm being sold for 71 cents a can, I buy 10 or 20. When I see olive oil being sold in five liter jugs for $28, or $5.70 per liter, I buy 2 jugs. When I see potato starch being sold at half its regular price, I buy 10 bags. When I make it to the store that sells broken cashews cheaply, I buy 10 bags. When I see gluten free spaghetti being sold at 70 cents a package, I buy 10 or 15.
It's a regular thing with me.
That's how I shop.
It's how I stockpile.

Just because I have 15 boxes of gluten free flour mix doesn't mean that for the next while, most meals I make will be based off that flour. Just because I bought 10 packages of spaghetti doesn't mean we'll be eating meal after meal of spaghetti.
Just because I bought 180 packages of Reese's Pieces doesn't mean that we'll now be eating gobs and gobs of chocolate.


I shop and then I stock.

My stockpile is under the stairs in my house, something that I made sure to include in the layout of our new home, because in our old home our stockpile was in our hallway, something that wasn't so pleasant. 

I go to cheap stores, either catching specific sales, or buying things from scratch and dent stores, and I never know what I will find. Its treasure hunting, and when I see a treasure, I snatch it up to add it to my "hoard", to my stockpile. I usually buy as much as I can manage to carry home and will have room to store, because I never know when I'll be able to get that price again or what I'll find cheaply next, so I buy enough to last until the next time I'll be able to buy things like that.
I set a certain budget for groceries each month, but what I buy each month isn't just for what we're eating that month. Each month, the groceries we eat are a combination of the things I bought and stocked up on in previous months, as well as things I buy that month. And what I buy will get set aside for future months.

I know that in my family my kids and I regularly eat treats. Whether we should have healthier ones or not is another story, but this is my life at the moment. If I don't have treats at home, my kids beg me to take them to the corner grocery store to buy treats; by having treats in my stockpile at home, each time that I would have otherwise bought more expensive treats, I instead take one that was super cheap out of my stockpile, in other words, "shopping from my pantry". 

Once I realized that when I buy certain foods cheaply, I end up eating them up much quicker which means that overall I didn't save any money. Because of that I am cognizant to not do that, and just eat those things at the same rate as I would if I had to go to the store each time I wanted one.

But what about expiration dates? If they're selling food this cheaply, is it even good and/or safe anymore?
Once upon a time I did research about safety vis a vis expiration dates, and you know what I learned? They are meaningless. They aren't regulated. They don't define whether or not a food is safe.
Companies want you to get and experience their product in the best possible way, so they determine after how long the product is likely to change and become less tasty/enjoyable to eat, so they put this date on as an expiration date. It doesn't mean that the food spoils by then. It just means that there's a possibility that the food won't be as perfect then and you may enjoy it less. Especially if its a shelf stable item.
So what do you do?
When buying things from salvage stores or scratch and dent stores, or things that are close to their expiration date, open a package and taste it. See how it tastes. Do you enjoy it? Then it doesn't matter if its past its expiration date. If you find it a bit stale, don't buy more. If you find it tasty, buy a lot and store for later. If its close to the expiration date and its something that isn't shelf stable and tastes good now, then put it in the freezer and when you take it out of the freezer it should be perfect.

Yes, I bought 180 packages of chocolate in one go. But I'm not having a stomach ache from that. Because my family will be eating it slowly. (Since I purchased them on Friday, my family has eaten only 6 packages of them.)

P.S. Yes, bugs are potentially an issue when stockpiling. I've had bugs cause problems from time to time. Its a risk you take when stockpiling, but the amount of things I've needed to throw out because of bugs, and therefore money wasted, pales in comparison to the amount of money I regularly save by stockpiling things being sold at a fraction of their regular prices. Its a worthwhile gamble. And some items are sealed well enough that they never are an issue with bugs.

Do you stockpile? What types of things do you stockpile? How do you work that into your budget and/or menu plans? If you stockpile, have you ever had issues with bugs? What do you do to minimize damage from bugs?

1 comment:

  1. You and I are birds of a feather. I shop exactly the same way. If something's on sale for an amazing price, I grab as much as I can store. It saves money in the long run and I can then prepare meals based on what I've stocked, rather than figure out what we want and then buy the ingredients needed. I know what kinds of recipes I normally prepare, and so it's easy to keep those ingredients stocked in my pantry.

    It saves SO much money to shop this way that it surprises me that more people don't do this.

    Only once have I had problems with pantry moths. That was in my old house, and I'm pretty diligent about freezing grains these days (made much easier by my chest freezer). I keep a close eye on my pantry, because I don't want that to happen again!

    What do I stockpile? I keep a lot of beans on hand, as I'm vegetarian. Canned tomatoes, pasta, rice, flour, pasta sauce (I have quite a few containers of this in the freezer right now, made from our garden tomatoes, but otherwise, jarred from the store), I have a lot of frozen veggies in my chest freezer... Just basic ingredients that allow me to prepare a fairly wide variety of meals with not a ton of effort. I can't see myself shopping any other way ever again, because this works so well for us.

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