Stockpile. That word seems to induce fear in most people. I think they envision Costco-sized boxes and cans hanging out of every closet and crevice in their home, but it doesn't have to be that way.
First off, let's talk about when and why you should stockpile. When? When the price of an item, usually by combining a sale price with a coupon, is the absolute lowest price the item goes. For example, Giant has L'Oreal Kids Shampoo on sale for $2.50, and this past Sunday 1/4 there was a .75 off coupon in the inserts, which Giant now doubles. That brings the price down to $1.00 on a shampoo that's usually $2.99. This is my preferred brand for my girls' very curly/frizzy hair, so I'm buying as many as I have coupons for. I'm not using this a deal example–as you may not need shampoo–but as an example of when to stockpile. Storing 3-4 bottles of shampoo doesn't take up much space in my home, and I know it will get used up.
What should you stockpile? Think about the items you use the most, or the ones that cost the most. I've already mentioned stockpiling meat (by way of cooking ahead and freezing). Shampoo is expensive, and with two girls we go through it, so saving $1.99/bottle is what makes it affordable for me to have a preferred brand (my husband and I use whatever I get free at CVS). What does your family run through a lot of? Pasta? Tissues? Diapers? When you see a sale on something you buy regularly, purchase 2, 4 or 6 of the item so that you save money versus purchasing it every week or two.
Start with a couple of items–grocery or otherwise–and see how it feels. You do not need to turn your basement into a warehouse store. Find a little space under your bathroom sink or in the linen closet to hold a few extra items. I'm storing Kleenex in the top of my son's closet, and I have enough cupboard space to hold an extra jar or two of salsa or spaghetti sauce.
Stockpiling isn't just for food or toiletries. This concept works with clothing as well, though the outlay can be more. If you find a fantastic price on kids' basic tees, shorts, etc., buy 2-3 as long as you know they will be used. The key is, be willing to buy a few extras of your family's staples when they're at their lowest price.
Read the other articles in the Money-Saving Habits for 2009 series.