I am putting the word “hoarding” in quotation marks because this is not what I call my, um, “problem”, but what other people call it. It’s a quote (as is “problem”), either from My Other Half or one of my supportive friends.
Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my “hoarding”. Actually, I would prefer not to use that word since it reminds me of the TLC show Hoarding: Buried Alive where very sick, twisted people live in their own waste. This, my friends, is another entity entirely, so I shall henceforth refer to it as “stockpiling” (which is reminiscent of another TLC show, Extreme Couponing, which I aspire to be on. Seriously.).
My stockpiling definitely comes from my mother. She has always been a sale-watcher and coupon collector. Sometimes she appears insane, but my dad – the more frivolous one – has admitted that over the years she’s probably saved them tens of thousands of dollars. I don’t take my stockpiling as far as she has, but I certainly mimic what I believe to be the more sensible habits.
There are a few different things that lead me to stockpiling. Let me break it down for you:
I love coupons.
Basically, if I think I’m getting a deal, I am a happy girl. Again, something I inherited from my mother. I get so excited I also want to tell everyone I see about the deal I got. Over-sharing, some might say, but I’m either feeling particularly proud or I want to spread the wealth and let someone else in on the deal. I’m not a selfish shopper – I give away coupons and secrets and hints all the time. My biggest couponing trick? I only use coupons on things that are already on sale. This results is a double price reduction. And that’s enough to leave me smiling as I exist the grocery store.
As an aspiring extreme couponer, how do I stay organized? Well, I keep an envelope in my purse with all my current coupons at all times. They are sorted by type (dairy, cosmetics, frozen foods) to make them easy to find. Every month or so, I go through my coupons to throw out those that have expired. When I’m shopping, I have the envelope of coupons out and ready to reference as I walk down the aisles. Yes, I buy things with coupons that I otherwise wouldn’t, but I never buy useless stuff. I always use everything I buy, and I get to try a lot of new products that way.
Ever since we bought our house, we now recieve the flyers. I love flyers! Every Thursday is like Christmas when the flyers come. I go through my favourites – Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, Metro and Canadian Tire – and make a list of all the big sales I’m interested in. Then, typically on Saturday morning, I coerce My Other Half into running errands with me (by promising him Starbucks) and pick up everything I need for the coming week. Because I check the flyers regularly, I always know when things are on sale. I’m also an email subscriber to all sorts of stores, clubs, and coupon websites, so that keeps me in-the-know too.
I stock up on favourites.
We all have our staple household items. I’m talking about the things that are permanently in the fridge or pantry – milk, eggs, bread… whatever. But then there are the super-expensive-and-almost-essential-but-not-quite items. I’m talkin’ about bacon, cheese, chicken breasts, as I recently told you, peanut butter. And that’s just naming a few – non-food items also fall into that category (like Sensodyne. And Lysol wipes).
My trick with these items is to stock up when they’re on sale. Did you say a 500g block of Black Diamond Cheddar is on sale for $4.44??? I am definitely buying the store max. And if you didn’t know stores put a cap on the number of sale items you can buy… well, you haven’t lived. Those dirt bags are always capping me out at 8 cases of Coke per family. Jerks.
I’m exaggerating now, a bit. But in all seriousness, I do stock up when expensive things are on big sale. Extra lean ground beef, for example, recently went on sale for $1.99 a pound. That’s INSANE. It’s normally three times that. So I nabbed 6 pounds. I know we’re going to use it, so why not? I bought a deep freeze for precisely that purpose.
I feel like this third section is the one that makes the most sense, and probably the only part I’d encourage people to adopt. If something you use regularly goes on sale (especially if it’s normally expensive), why not stock up? Some people don’t want to front the cash, but really… you’re saving yourself a lot more money in the long run. Common sense, people!
I like easy access.
If I decide to make a recipe, there’s nothing I hate more than having to go out to pick up just one ingredient, especially if it’s a basic ingredient like flour or a can of diced tomatoes. I like to have what I need on hand, so I keep my pantry well-stocked with things I use often. I pretty much always have a can of black beans, a bottle of lime juice or a box of shortening. So, my stockpiling works out well – I always have what I need. Typically I only have to pick up fresh ingredients like produce if I want to make a new recipe.
So why the big reveal on my stockpiling problem? Well, a couple weeks ago, some of you may have spotted the picture I posted on Facebook of my big pantry clean-out. It was daunting, exhausting and above all, revealing. I didn’t realize how much stuff I had! After gutting the pantry and re-organizing, my menu planning has been so much easier. I am actually working towards buying less and using up what I have (cue collective sigh of relief).
So, stay tuned… Part 2 will feature all the ins and outs of the big pantry reorganization project!