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How To Fill Your Pantry With Case Lot Sales
Building a stockpile is one of my favorite ways to save money! By always having basic ingredients on hand, I can shop my pantry rather than the store. One of my favorite ways to contribute to my stockpile is by shopping annual sales called case lot sales!
This post is part of a series where I am breaking down how to stockpile groceries to save money. To find all of the posts, click here!
Every year in the fall, stores start having case lot sales. They order a bunch of extra inventory, slash the prices, and sell items by the case rather than by the piece.
Let me tell you, buying a ton of cans in a box is so much more convenient than buying them loose! All you have to do is grab a box or flat and check out a single item. (However, depending on the store, you might be able to buy a single item at the discounted price if you don’t want a whole case. Read the sale tags, or ask an associate!)
Imagine how much time is saved by scanning one item instead of twenty-four, and then multiply that by the number of cans that you will be buying altogether! It cuts the shopping time way down, and continues to save me time at the store for months!
Not only does shopping at case lot sales save time, but it also saves money. The sales are nice, but the real secret is avoiding the store. By having so many ingredients on hand already, you are able to meal plan and create menus around the ingredients that you already have.
I typically pick up fresh ingredients every one to two weeks, but I can stretch that if I need to by using my stockpile.
Going to the store less often helps save me gas money, and it also helps me avoid impulse shopping. By not walking down every aisle at the grocery store, I ease temptation on my weekly shopping trips. Over the course of a year, that saves my family a considerable amount of money!
Pro tip: Cases of food take up a lot of space; There won’t be room for your kids in the cart. Plan ahead!
How To Create A Shopping Plan
When I get the flyer for my grocery store’s case lot sale, the first thing that I do is check my pantry. I look to see what I am running low on and what I have run out of.
If you aren’t sure what you need, sit down and write a list of all of the meals that your family eats on a regular basis. Then, go through the list and write down any pantry ingredients that are in those recipes. Stocking up on these items would be a great place to start!
After I have checked my inventory, I look at the sales, and I find the items that I am low on first. I write down the price of the case and the amount that I will buy. The goal is to buy enough to last until next year when I will restock with another case lot sale. Yes, I stretch most of these items for an entire year!
How To Afford Shopping A Case Lot Sale
I understand that it can be difficult to come up with enough money to really get everything you need during a quick sale like this. If you can’t afford much right now, then my advice is to buy what you can afford out of your regular budget and begin to prepare for next year.
Since I know that I will be buying from case lots sales every year, I set aside $25 a month right out of my $250 per month food budget. This gives me a budget of $300 to spend every fall, and it feels effortless because I am not scrambling to find money for the sale.
The first year that we did this, Chris and I were blessed enough to have my parents and Grandparents that not only taught us this method but shared their stockpiles and taught me the value of being prepared.
If you don’t have the money set aside right now, that’s okay. Try to focus as much of your monthly budget as possible on stocking up, and focus on the most important ingredients first.
What Items Do I Focus On During Case Lot Sales?
Focus on shelf stable ingredients during case lot sales. Avoid fresh items, and pass up meat sales and frozen sales. This is your chance to fill the pantry!
Remember that not every sale is a great deal, so pay attention to your cost per ounce.
The most important rule? Only buy ingredients you will actually use! Regardless of how cheap an ingredient is, if it will spoil or sit for too long and go bad before you get the chance to eat it, you are wasting your money!
My most important list items are always canned goods. I buy at least one case of my staple ingredients, sometimes two depending on how frequently we eat that ingredient! I usually buy canned fruit, vegetables, beans, and whatever shortcut ingredients that I find myself using frequently.
Ultimately, what you buy will be dependent on what your family likes to eat. Think about your regular eats while you are browsing your local flyer sales, and make sure to write a list whenever you come across something that you eat several times a month.
Grains & Legumes
Next on the list is grains. I always buy pasta. It’s great in a pinch! Stores typically have a mix and match deal so you can buy different types. Rotini, spaghetti, linguine, angel hair, you name it. Pasta is extremely versatile and budget-friendly. Store the sealed packages in a bin with a lid. They keep for a long time.
Rice is also extremely versatile. I get a twenty-pound bag of rice and store it in a food-safe bucket that I bought from Walmart for about four dollars a few years ago. I definitely recommend going this route if you eat rice frequently, as the price per ounce is so much less than buying one-pound bags. For convenience, I just keep a container in my pantry and refill it as needed.
Beans are a healthy ingredient that is versatile, simple to prepare, and cheap. Since there are so many varieties, I typically stock up on one-pound bags of different types. If you consistently use a specific variety, consider buying a larger quantity and storing it like I store rice! I frequently see black beans and pinto beans in twenty-pound bags for less than $15.
Condiments & Seasoning Packets
I also try to stock up on our favorite condiments. Although I like to make these homemade when I can, there are a few items that my family prefers pre-made. Honestly, I don’t mind because it just makes my life easier. Ranch, barbecue sauce, ketchup, and mustard are all items that we typically keep on hand.
I also like to have a handful of seasoning packets for those times that I run out of spices and don’t realize it. Or you know, I’m just busy. Taco seasoning, sloppy joe mix, ranch dip, onion dip, and Italian dressings are all kept in my pantry. These packets are perfect for when I need a quick dinner!
I also buy baking supplies like a gallon of oil and twenty pounds of sugar and flour. These are the lowest prices all year on basic ingredients.
When Christmas baking season begins, you will be able to catch good deals on brown sugar, cocoa, and chocolate chips so if you are low on funds by this point, go for the higher impact ingredients and skip those. Also, don’t buy spices-you can get a better deal buying them from bulk bins on your weekly trips.
Typical List Items
At this point, your budget is probably spent. If you have any money left, check out those ready-made options!
Cereal can be a great thing to stock up on, especially if your kids eat the same kind all of the time. Think about the items that you would buy anyway and use what is left of your case lot budget to get ahead for the month.
I like to buy a case of chili when I can, and there are usually kid-friendly options like ravioli that are considerably less than their retail price so it’s worth a gander. Just beware that these items are probably not going to last an entire year. 😉 Just call them a good deal.
How To Buy Groceries From Case Lot Sales
That pretty much sums up what I typically buy from case lot sales. I hope that I have helped cure the overwhelm that a sale like this can create! By focusing on the basics and shopping for pantry staples only once a year, you can save so much time and money. Having staple ingredients on hand is the first step to curating a functional stockpile that will help you feed your family on a budget.
Can you do me a favor? Share this post with your friends and family so that they can start saving money, too!
Don't forget to check out The Ultimate Christmas Shopping Planner to help you enjoy the Holidays on a budget!