The first time we started couponing, I already had a refrigerator full of items we used regularly. We had what we "needed" at the very least. So, in the beginning I could focus on "stockpiling" right away. Other than a few items that we had to replenish weekly, that was really all I did. In doing so, I built our stockpile pretty quickly. Our main freezer filled up in no time and within 2 months of starting with couponing we'd bought our large deep freeze and I had it filled before long. In fact, by the beginning of April (about 6 months after starting this journey) I'd begun to pass on any coupons for frozen items because, frankly, our deep freeze (and our regular freezer) were just FULL. We needed to eat some of what we had before I tried to put anything else in there.
As you can see from the pictures below, we weren't lacking in the non-perishable dept either...
Thanks to the storms and the week-long loss of power, we lost everything in the fridge and freezers (just like everyone else). After we got power back, we decided that we could more easily replace our stockpile than many others could buy food right now, so we donated more than half of our non-perishables to various groups around town. There is still a shortage at some of the local food banks, and I'm trying to make more of an effort to include donation efforts in my regular buying because of this.
As for rebuilding the stockpile, it's both easier and harder. It's easier because I know more. I know what a good price is now. But, knowing that also makes it harder because I'm not willing to pay the higher prices. So, my stockpile is being rebuilt piece by piece, as things go on sale and I have coupons for them (or at least one of the above). I did pick up a couple of things recently at full price just because I found that after a week of not having them, it was really bugging me.
The biggest reason it's harder is because I've found that it's much easier to find the coupons you want when you first start out. Coupons are everywhere, but MANY of the coupons available online don't reset for long periods of time (if ever, I haven't quite figured it out yet). So, a lot of the items we use the most I can't seem to locate coupons for. Even though they are online, I can't print them because I've already done so. I've also been finding ever since the first of the year that there seem to be fewer and fewer coupons coming out in the paper for items I use. And lastly, as I've already mentioned, I had been giving away a lot of coupons I could really use now.
After the storms, we decided to increase our grocery budget (by double) for a limited time to help us rebuild. However, I'm still finding that my grocery trips are about the same size they were pre-storm. Today, I spent $12 at Publix. Then again, I almost didn't go, at all, because there were really only 2 items on sale this week that I wanted to grab. For $12 I got 6 porkchops, 6 packages of razors (FREE! -yay Raincheck), 8 Smart Ones deserts and 1 bath squishee thing. I still have to sit down and enter my receipts for the last week or so, and I have a feeling when I'm done I'll find that we really have spent more than what our budget was pre-storm but I know we haven't come close to spending twice that much.