5 Reasons Why I DON’T Keep a Large Stockpile

{A Former Stockpiler Moves Toward Minimalism}

For years I maintained a large stockpile for my family. Now I don’t, and this is why I’m happier…


I’ve been a frugal shopper for over 15 years. I love learning new methods of saving and tricks to improve the things I already do. My recent Pinterest searches on saving money have brought up several posts about how to build a stockpile to save money or have on hand in case of emergency. I understand the concept, and I don’t think any home should be without supplies or an emergency plan. In this post, I will give you some history about my experience with stockpiling and why I don’t keep one now.

First, let’s discuss my definition of the difference between a stocked pantry and a stockpile.

Stocked pantry: enough items to feed and clean/groom my family for about a month or two.

Stockpile: enough of those supplies to last  6 months to a year (or more).

I’m all for a stocked pantry. It gives you freedom in meal planning and lessens the worry that you will run out of things like shampoo or laundry detergent. But those stockpiles that take up entire rooms, or having 5 or 10 years’ worth of food staples stored in airtight buckets?

Been there, done that, and I won’t do it again!


How & Why I Created a Stockpile

When my husband and I began having children, we realized that our grocery spending was crazy. Since I was now a SAHM and we had become a 1-income family, reducing that spending was my priority.

I learned to be a coupon queen. For years I spent an average of just over $200/month for all of the food, cleaning products, and toiletries my 4-person family required.

I had hundreds of rolls of toilet paper, enough nearly-free detergent to wash laundry and dishes for years, plastic bins and buckets full of pasta and other staples, a closet full of cereal obtained for pennies per box. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. Oh, did I mention that we live in a 1400 square foot house with no basement? No matter how compactly I tried to store it, the large stockpile was everywhere!

Being a SAHM and couponing was pretty much my job for a few years. Reading deal sites, checking ads, matching deals, printing and cutting coupons, driving 45 minutes and shopping at least twice a week (with two young boys) at a minimum of 4-6 stores each time. Whew! That was a busy time!

Eventually, couponing became a popular sport in my area and gradually all of the grocery stores changed their policies accordingly. At the time I was upset. That one thing I was really good at was no longer an option.


After the Stockpile

As my stockpile dwindled, I came to the conclusion that my family would be okay without 40 jars of peanut butter or 80 bottles of shampoo on the shelf. While I fondly remember some of the deals I used to be able to get, I’ve realized that at this point in my life, I prefer shopping once a month and limiting the supplies of everything I keep on hand.

Here’s why NOT stockpiling works for me:

  1. I am much less stressed. I used to be so afraid of missing deals, it would keep me up at night. Also, constant confrontations with cashiers and customer service people was exhausting. I’m not a confrontational person. I always followed written store & coupon policies, but store personnel were often untrained, overworked, and cranky.
  2. We eat less. The seemingly unlimited amounts of food in the house – not all of it bad food, just a lot – meant my family felt free to eat larger servings. (This is the same reason I do not belong to a warehouse club store.)
  3. We waste less. It’s hard to keep track of expiration dates on a huge supply of items, no matter how organized you are. If something was expiring, it had to be used or tossed. If that happened to be a bucket full of oatmeal, we got pretty tired of that food and sometimes didn’t finish it.
  4. I spend less time online and less time shopping. Both good things.
  5. Our house seems larger. Not storing 300 double rolls of tp, 100 boxes of cereal, many bins full of free items… well, let’s just say clear space makes me happy.


Yes, not being able to effectively coupon shop costs us some money. I’ve learned to be okay with that. Utilizing careful menu planning and only one main shopping trip per month, I am still usually able to keep the budget in check.

Do I worry about not having enough supplies in an emergency situation?

Would I have a large stockpile if I had a basement or dedicated space for it?

Honestly… NO.

I prefer moving toward minimalism and simplicity.


How about you? Do you keep a stockpile? Why or why not?



15 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why I DON’T Keep a Large Stockpile”

  1. Interesting article. I am so glad you shared this with us! For many years I’ve leaned toward the stockpile category. I have bought in bulk and cooked large batches for the freezer. As my family is now looking at moving into a smaller home I am contemplating how to pare down my pantry. Thanks for the encouraging tips and insight this week.

    1. Hi Linda! Sometimes it’s tough to let go of the stockpile, but you may be surprised that it works out better than you expect. Thank you so much for visiting!

  2. I’ve never had a stockpile, but I’ve had a stocked pantry and I experienced some things that you mentioned. We ate just because the food was there. Lots of food was wasted because I would make large servings of food, although it was just me and my husband at the time. I would also be overwhelmed, but it was because we had a ton of food and after awhile, I didn’t even want to look at what was in our pantry.

    1. Thank you for visiting! This made me laugh — “after awhile, I didn’t even want to look at what was in our pantry.” I think we’ve all been there! What did you find works better for you? Shopping more often for small amounts of food? Or making specific plans and only “seeing” what you need for each meal?

  3. You make very good points about not stock piling. I have never done it to that degree you describe. It may be helpful when you have a large family at home. We are just two now and I shop every week and try to keep it fresh. We do buy up a little on specials that we use all the time, like half price coffee beans, LOL I get nervous if that item gets low in the pantry.

    Thanks for sharing this informative post in the Bloggers Pit Stop

  4. We do store a lot, but try to moderate our food intake. It helps when you live out in the countryside to have a supply on hand just in case of storms, etc. Thanks for sharing your post on the #HomeMattersParty

    1. Hi Jeanne, thank you for visiting! It’s awesome that you’ve found a system that works for you and I absolutely understand having a supply on hand in case of storms! That’s a good reminder. I never let our pantry get below at least a week’s worth of meals for exactly that reason.

  5. I have been very tempted to start the stockpiling method but completely see that a “stocked” pantry would be a better way to go. I also do not need one more thing to stress about! 🙂 Thanks for sharing on #FFBH!

    1. Stockpiling certainly works for some people, but keeping track of less stuff definitely lowers my stress level! I hope you find a method that works for you and your family!

  6. Yes I always keep a stockpile and can’t imagine ever not doing so. No stockpile would mean that I wouldn’t be able to donate $10,000 worth of goods to local shelters every year. No stockpile means that if there is ever a semi-monthly paycheck when we can’t afford a trip to the grocery store, we would have to scrape what we have on hand for 2 weeks. My store often times pays me to shop and I can use the free gift cards I get for produce. We just moved to a new house and I intend on setting up my stockpile in the garage so it isn’t cluttering the house at all and opening my doors to my friends and neighbors to come shop for stuff at 50%-90% off retail directly out of my stockpile. I have also taken a wagon of stockpile stuff to local farmers markets and traded for things we needed. One time I traded a bag of dog food for a dozen farm fresh eggs. If we need something, just walk out to the garage and get it but others can benefit from the savings too and I make some extra cash to pay for the stuff it is hard to get a good price on like surgery for my dog. Overall it will allow me to chase the deals (which truly excites me) and never limit myself while never having that clutter inside my house. And letting others shop my stockpile helps keep my stockpile rotating much faster. I am also the go to for baby shower gifts. Instead of getting a co-worker (I work full time) something they may not use, we all throw money together and I get 100 packs of diapers to give them instead! I just love couponing and stockpiling. The rewards are too great in every aspect to give it up. I would feel like I was saying helping other people isn’t worth my time or effort.

  7. I love the idea of the stockpiled pantry but our 900 sq ft home doesn’t actually have a pantry. If I organize well, I can fit about 2 weeks worth of dry/canned goods in the kitchen cabinets (thankfully we are aspiring minimalists, so we don’t have a bunch of stuff cluttering up the cabinets, so there is space for food). The current pandemic has got me thinking about how to increase that to about 1 month of food. So I added a couple of cheap, ugly, plastic shelves (desperate times call for desperate measures) so that I can store an extra 2 weeks worth of food there. I’d love for them to be nicer shelves. Maybe one of these days. Thankfully our laundry area and small linen cabinet are surprisingly enough to house a month of household supplies, even for a family of 4.

  8. I’m somewhere in between I think. We don’t stockpile persay but I do always have a stocked pantry. Enough to feed our family for three months or so i basics. I think where ours differs is we are farmers almost everything in our home is made from scratch. So having a well stocked pantry plus a bit of overflow matters. We also put up four garden goodies for use that year and to sell/ overwintering which is different then stockpiling in some ways we always buy/ put enough local winter veggies and stored fruits from local farms and our own and buy half orders of animals for full stocked freezers. But we then from October through about may practice the buy nothing movement and eat what we have put up only or as much as possible so we put that grocery money in savings. I don’t coupon I’m not sure I would have the capacity for that honestly. What do you think about overwintering ? Or act of using root cellar practices?

    1. It sounds like you have a great system that works for you! 🙂 To me, what you’re describing is more of a homesteading lifestyle, which sort of demands stockpiling to get through months of no shopping. I’m all for overwintering and using root cellars if that’s your ‘thing!’ It’s simply another life choice. 🙂

  9. I totally get the distinction you are trying to make. I used to be a couponing queen as well, but found I just had too much on hand! Plus, often it was the stuff that was on sale, not necessarily the things we like. Picking up 3-4 of my husband’s preferred deodorant when it’s on sale/with a coupon is much more manageable than trying to get 10 random deodorants just because they are cheap.

    At this point I probably have a couple month’s worth of toiletries and food stored in our pantry and garage. It’s not overwhelming, but we do feel secure that between inflation/pandemics/supply chain shortages we won’t run out of anything.

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