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Stockpile

Today, I want to show you my stockpile. It’s hands down the hardest-working square footage in our house, and a big part of how we save money. It includes plenty of food, like you’d expect, but it also includes some things that will probably surprise you. Come take a look.

Grocery Stockpile

Our stockpile is located in our unfinished basement. We have about 850 square feet of storage space in our basement, and I would say roughly 100-150 square feet of that space is currently dedicated to our stockpile.

Grocery Stockpile - Left

Now, most people wouldn’t dream of showing you their unfinished basement, but our basement is important to our lifestyle, so pretty or not, it deserves a stop on our home tour.

Grocery Stockpile - Right

We like to buy ahead whenever possible because it saves us money and cuts down on our trips to the store, and with a basement to store things in, we’re able to stock up when we find a good deal.

Grocery Stockpile - Front Corner

We have a tiny kitchen pantry, so we only store opened foods there. Everything else is kept in our stockpile.

Stockpile Closeup

So, what kinds of foods do we keep in our stockpile?

Small Appliances, Pasta & Rice

Pasta, rice and dried fruits.

Cereal

Cereal. I stock up whenever our favorites are on sale for $2 or less a box.

Granola Bars

Granola bars. We do a big chunk of our grocery shopping at an Amish salvage store near our cabin. They sell granola bars for $.10 a piece, so I load up on Kind bars and other healthier brands for the kids.

Can Racks

Canned foods. I do a lot of canning and freezing, so we don’t really buy many canned goods, mostly just tomato products, like tomato paste and crushed tomatoes.

I found my can racks at yard sales, but you can find similar racks on Amazon.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter. $2.19 is my price for peanut butter. I’ve been finding it at the Amish store for $1.50 lately.

Cooking and Baking Supplies

Cooking and baking supplies. I keep extra mayo, vinegars, baking powder, baking soda, chocolate chips, powdered sugar, brown sugar and such on hand, so I don’t have to worry about running out in the middle of a recipe. It’s a lot easier to run to the basement, than it is to run to the store. Baking supplies tend to get marked down after the holidays, so I do most of my stocking up then.

Dried Beans

Dried beans. I cook my own beans, instead of buying canned, because it’s tons cheaper. You can see the price comparisons that I did here and here. I usually buy my dried beans out of the bulk bins because it tends to be cheaper, but sometimes I find bags of dried beans on the reduced price rack for less. That’s what you see here. The beans that I bought out of the bulk bins are stored in jars in the pantry.

Spices and Condiments

We rescued this white shelf from a curb pile a few years back, and it’s been such a welcome addition to our stockpile.

Mustard and Spices

It holds our extra spices and seasonings (some store-bought, some homemade), as well as condiments like, mustard …

BBQ Sauce and Other Condiments

bbq sauce and ketchup.

Homemade Extracts

It also holds my homemade extracts …

Baking Chocolate

and stacks of baking chocolate just waiting to be made into something tasty.

Inside of Freezer

We also have three freezers in another part of our basement: two uprights and one chest freezer. We use the chest freezer for long-term storage items – things like meat, berries, veggies and nuts.

We use the upright freezers to store things like freezer jams, homemade pumpkin puree, flour and baked goods.

And we have two mini-freezers that we rescued on college move-out day. We keep one plugged in all the time to hold extra gallons of milk and juice (so we don’t have to shop as often and can take advantage of sales), and we have one that we plug in as needed (mostly when we have lots of holiday or party food/leftovers).

Tampons

The grocery portion of our stockpile also includes necessities, like toilet paper and tampons/pads. I scored a huge case of Playtex tampon sample packs at a community yard sale this summer for just a few bucks. After opening all the packs, I had enough tampons to fill quite a few freezer bags.

Tampons and Pads

The bottom two bins are tampons, and the top one is pads. I’ll gladly carve out some space in my stockpile, if it saves me from paying $5-6 a box.

I buy/make cleaners ahead, too. Our stockpile typically includes spray cleaner, laundry detergent, my homemade dishwasher detergent tabs and ingredients (washing soda, baking soda, Fels Naptha, salt, lemon juice, etc.) to make other household cleaners.

Light Bulbs

We keep extra light bulbs on hand as well. We’ve upgraded the whole house to LED bulbs. They cost more on the front end, but save a ton of electricity and last longer. We stock up when they’re on sale, so when a bulb goes out, we don’t have to pay full price for a replacement or drive to the store for one.

Craft Storage Totes

Those bins tucked under the shelves hold some of my craft supplies – specifically, it’s my candle/soapmaking supplies, the t-shirts that I use to make rugs and yarn.

As you’re about to see, our stockpile includes lots of craft supplies. We’re a family of makers, so we have supplies and tools on hand to make all sorts of things.

Making instead of buying saves us a lot of money, especially since most of our craft supplies come from yard sales and thrift stores. But, keeping all of those materials organized is, admittedly, quite a challenge — especially since I’m not the only person accessing them.

Storage Bin Labels

I’ve learned that things have to be very clearly labeled and easy to put away, or they won’t get put away. So, when I recently reorganized our craft supplies, I put a lot of thought into how we use our stuff. If something wasn’t getting put away because there wasn’t any room in the container, I moved it to a bigger container. If something wasn’t getting put away because the container wasn’t easy to get to, I moved it to a better spot.

And anything that didn’t already have a label got one. The above photo shows the label that our ribbon bin got.

Printable Storage Bin Labels

It’s one of my free, printable storage bin labels. You’ll see these labels again and again, as I show you my craft stockpile. I used my label maker to label smaller boxes.

Epson LabelWorks LW-400

This is the label maker that I use. It’s an Epson LabelWorks LW-400.

I keep clear label tape in my label maker because I can put labels on clear bins and only have the words show. It’s just a cleaner look than you get with white label tape.

Alright, now that you know a little bit about my organizational approach, let me show you our craft stockpile.

Craft Supply Storage

A lot of our smaller craft supplies are tucked into this back corner.

Craft Supplies

These plastic shoe boxes work really well for us. You can easily grab the one you need, and take it upstairs, then bring it back when you’re done.

Small Craft Bins

And here are the labels on the front of them. Clean and easy to read.

I have more craft supplies to show you, but I’ll get to those in a bit. I’m working my way around the stockpile and showing you things as we come to them.

Canning Jars

I do a fair amount of canning and freezing, so I have a large stash of freezer jars. They have their own dedicated shelf.

Wide-Mouth Lids and Rings

I got tired of hunting down lids and bands, so my husband designated a bin for our wide-mouth lids and bands …

Regular-Mouth Lids and Rings

and our regular-mouth lids and bands. Now, they’re lots easier to find and put away.

Spice Jars

I dry a lot of herbs from my garden and make my own seasoning blends, so I save empty spice jars to use again. Those also have their own bin. Before I created an official spot for them, they tended to pile up in the kitchen. I try to pay attention to stuff like that. Usually when there’s clutter in the house, it’s a sign that I need to tweak my organization system.

Get my spice recipes

Containers

I also make a lot of my own mixes, health/beauty products and cleaners, so I’m constantly in need of containers for those. I save empty containers to reuse, and I buy containers at yard sales and thrift stores, whenever I come across some that look like they’ll be useful. This ensures that I always have plenty of containers to choose from when I’m working on a project.

Back of Stockpile

This summer, my stash of canisters and large jars had started to pile up in the dining room because I didn’t have a place to store them. When I reorganized my stockpile last week, I made sure I gave them an entire shelf.

Jars

Now, I can easily see what I have …

Canisters

And I have a place to put the next jar or canister that I find.

Egg Cartons

This back section of my stockpile also includes empty egg cartons. We have chickens, so we use them for their eggs. I also make fire starters out of the cardboard cartons.

Canning and Dehydrating Supplies

And this section also holds more of my canning and dehydrating supplies.

Back Corner of Stockpile

Turning to work our way down the other side of my stockpile …

Sewing Supplies

This section mostly holds sewing supplies, but there are a few other things.

Canners

The first shelf holds my water bath canner and pressure canner, as well as empty berry boxes (which I often reuse to wrap gifts).

Silverware

It also holds our silverware for parties. We try to do no-waste parties whenever possible, so I have a large stash of mis-matched silverware that we bought at thrift stores and yard sales. This saves me from having to worry that someone will throw out my good silverware when we have an outdoor party. We also put mis-matched silverware in the kids’ lunchboxes for the same reason.

Read about our no-waste parties.

Sewing Machines

I have three sewing machines, and recently acquired a serger (which I haven’t had a chance to play with yet). Two of those machines are stored on this shelf, along with the serger. The other sewing machine stays out all the time in my office.

Why so many sewing machines? Since I use my machine for work, I like to have a back up. Having three also allows the kids and me to sew together. I’ve given them a few sewing lessons, and I hope to spend a bunch more time working with them on their sewing skills.

My husband has gotten good at repairing sewing machines, so we picked up our spare machines at yard sales for a $1 a piece (because they had a problem), and he fixed them.

Fabric Stash

A few years back my mother-in-law gave me her fabric stash, and that prompted me to come up with an organized way to store it. Sorting it by color just made sense to me. I originally stored the fabric in a couple of those plastic roll-y carts with the drawers, but people kept stacking heavy things on top of them, and then the drawers wouldn’t open properly. After one too many mom tantrums, I decided it was time for another approach.

I found this shelf in a curb pile last week, and so far it seems to be working. The only drawback I can see is that the kids are now much more aware of my fabric stash. So, I’m expecting that I’ll have to neaten the stacks periodically as they pull stuff out.

Fabric and Drinks

Those stacked crates next to the fabric shelf hold drinks. Most of it is juice that we got at the Amish store for $1.50 a bottle. I also stockpile bottled water. We carry stainless steel water bottles when we’re out and about, so it’s not something we use on a regular basis, but I like to have it on hand in case of emergencies.

Behind these shelves is another little stockpile nook …

Craft Supply Corner

It holds the rest of our craft supplies.

Loom Supplies

The back section has supplies organized in labeled drawers and bins.

More Craft Drawers

These have been in use for years, and seem to work well for us. I occasionally tweak the contents of our drawers, as our crafting interests change, but overall this has proven to be a low-maintenance organization system.

Craft Rolling Cart

I stacked the rest of our large bins of craft supplies on this roll-y cart. It slides into this nook, when not in use, and slides out easily when we need it. I put seldom-used bins at the bottom of the stack and frequently-used bins at the top.

Craft Supply Labels

And like everything else in our stockpile, all of the bins are clearly labeled, so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.

Crockpot Collection

This little nook, also has a large curb-shopped cabinet that we use for kitchen overflow. It holds my large collection of crockpots that my friend likes to tease me about. In the summer and fall months, it’s not unusual to see four or five crockpots lined up on my kitchen counter. It’s my busy-person way of making lots of tomato sauce, apple butter, etc. while my garden (and my friends’ gardens) are producing.

I also use multiple crockpots when we have parties, and I have two designated crafting crockpots for melting beeswax and paraffin.

In fact, full disclosure: two of my crockpots were in use when I snapped this picture. I guess that means I have eight? Wait, I think my craft crockpots are at the office, so maybe I have 10. And now you see why my friend teases me 🙂

Spare Appliances

This nook is also home to my spare appliances. If I find a small appliance that I love, and I run across its twin at a yard sale, I’ll buy it and tuck it in the basement as a replacement for when the original breaks. This ensures I never get stuck paying retail for an appliance, and that I never have to settle for a cheaper model than I currently have. And in the meantime, if I find myself cooking for a crowd, and need to put that second appliance to use temporarily, I can do that.

See that Cuisinart immersion blender in the front? It’s brand new in the box, and I paid $3 for it at a yard sale last weekend. I’m currently on my second immersion blender, so it’s just a matter of time before it gets put to use. I just think buying ahead makes sense in that situation.

Shoe Stockpile

Buying ahead also makes sense when it comes to kids shoes. The kids are almost 12 and 14-years-old respectively. In all of those years, I’ve only paid retail for one pair of kids’ shoes (and since they were $2, it hardly counts). We hit thrift stores and yard sales weekly, so I keep my eye out for high-quality shoes in grow-into sizes.

Most people think buying second-hand shoes means buying used shoes, but it doesn’t have to. I come across brand new or worn-once shoes all the time. Someone buys their kid a pair of shoes, and then they grow out of them before they get to wear them, or they don’t like the pair that mom picked out and refuse to wear them. Someone like you or I would return them to the store for a refund, but lots of people just throw them in the donate or yard sale pile. And that’s our gain.

I have shoe racks set up in the basement, and shop a few sizes ahead for each kid. This ensures that I have a full range of shoes in their size by the time they get there.

Grow-Into Shoes

I currently have shoes in size 4 through size 8.5 in women’s. Whenever they have a growth spurt, we go down to my “shoe store” and “shop” for new shoes. Lately they’ve been growing like weeds, and it’s been so nice to just walk down stairs and grab what they need. That’s a time-saver for me, and a huge money-saver, too. I don’t know how anyone who shops retails handles all the teen growth spurts without going broke.

And if you’re wondering how my kids feel about this system, they love it. Shopping this way allows me to afford the “cool” brands and to buy the best quality shoes. Last year, someone at school complimented my oldest daughter on the shoes she was wearing. She thanked them, and revealed they’d been a recent yard sale find (it’s a source of pride in our house). They were shocked, and said they’d always thought she was rich because she has such nice things. My daughter loves to tell that story. And both of my kids love to shop for shoes to add to our shoe store.

New Balance Sneakers

When you’re finding things like this brand new pair of New Balance sneakers, who could blame them?

Well, that wraps up my stockpile tour. Did you make it to the end? I sure hope so, because I think this part of our home reveals more about how we run our household than any other part of our home.

Need to Catch Up on Our Home Tour?

You’ll find all the parts I’ve gotten to here.

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Comments

  1. Eeek! I think this is my favorite room of all! I love stockpiles! I just wish I had a basement to store all of mine! I have to get creative with the small spaces that I have. Loving the home tours!

    • Yep, stockpiles are awesome 🙂 And I’m glad you’re enjoying the home tour. I’m trying to make a major push to complete it, but my list of places I want to show you guys keeps growing 🙂 There are all the normal suspects — kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc., but throw the frugal thing into the mix, and you suddenly have things like the stockpile, gift closet and chicken coop to add to the list. I keep crossing one space off my list and replacing it with another 🙂 By my latest count, I still have 10 home tour posts to do. How is that even possible for a 1,600 square foot house? Lol 🙂

      • Very possible I’m sure! I know what you mean though- cant wait to see them all! I look forward to each new one you post but definitely loving the stockpile one and cant wait for the gift closet!

  2. Wow that is so cool! you really find great stuff at yard sales and thrift stores. I never find such good stuff. We live in a small town that is kind of depressed.I wish we had a salvage store!

  3. holy mackeral!!!! what a stash, you are officially ready for when the SHTF!!!! where do you find all the containers? and the labels are nice touch…clear does look better than the colored.

    I have a 94 yr old friend, grew up poor, now is “set”. thru the years we’d go to yard sales, etc; she would stockpile 2 and 3 of things, like you, I’d always wonder what she’d do with all of them. now I know. but she’s not as organized as you…….GREAT JOB!!! very impressed. wish mine looked as organized…….

    • Glad you asked about the containers; I meant to mention that. We bought a small number of the storage bins and plastic shoe boxes when they were on sale one January, but nowadays most of our containers come from yard sales and curb piles. Last week when I was reorganizing the stockpile, I was wishing I had a few more bins for craft supplies. The very next day we stopped at a yard sale that had a stack of bins for $1 each (even the really big ones that are so expensive).

      We live near a college, so we rescued all the plastic drawers on college move out day. And most of the shelves have come out of curb piles. It’s taken a while, but we finally have enough shelves to fit the space.

      And it isn’t always this organized. It was a straight-up disaster before I reorganized it last week. I wish I’d thought to take a before picture 🙂 I’m hoping I’ve finally gotten it organized in a way that everyone will find easy to keep neat. It can be a challenge to find an organizational system that works for four people. I just keep trying new things, until I finally land on something that works.

  4. Wow, that is wonderful! It’s a major thrill to a frugal person to see how creatively and effectively you’ve used your basement.

    I am so happy to be in a house with a real pantry (finally!). It makes a huge difference in being able to stock up, and saves us both kitchen space and money.

  5. I’m AMAZED at your detail to organization and resourcefulness but knowing you, I”m not surprised. Very impressive!

  6. I love your stockpile organization! I hope that I will be willing to photograph mine one day! I totally know what you mean about using a plastic drawer set that gets ruined from everything put on top. Thanks for giving me the freedom to give up on it and try something else! Also, I was surprised about flour in the freezer! I will have to try it. For flour kept on the shelf, I always add a bay leaf and never get those little flour bugs (weevils?) any more!

  7. Yep, I keep my flour in the freezer to prevent bugs, but also to increase shelf life. Whole grain flours only have about a 6 month shelf life in the pantry. They’ll keep forever in the freezer.

  8. wow!! just, wow!! PLease come to my house and get me organized! This is actually pretty inspirational, thank you!

  9. Wow, that is so much stuff! Where I live, in the Netherlands, it’s not common to have a stockpile. And we don’t have crockpots either, lol. I love that you do no waste parties and i’d like to recommend a menstrual cup to you, for no waste periods. It took me a couple months to figure it out, but now I’m so glad I did. I never have to buy tampons and pads again! How frugal is that?!

  10. I love your ideas! I just have to ask though…how do you control the environment in your basement? I imagine you are running a dehumidifier, but do you have any moisture issues to deal with? We have an old house with a nicely finished section and a non finished section. The land scraping is well graded around the entire house, and we had a water collection/diversion system installed when we remodeled. Overall we have a dry basement, but on very hot humid days It can feel a little damp down there and we sometimes have bugs and even the occasional mouse! your stockpile area looks very neat and clean, but do you ever have any of these issues?

    • Good question, Caroline. We also have an old house (1920), but we sort of got lucky with the basement. Instead of having a brick foundation, our house has a concrete foundation (pretty unusual for the time). I think that helps to minimize moisture. And our basement is a walk-out, which probably also helps. Very occasionally (only during a major storm), we used to get some water in the front corner of our basement, but we put bigger gutters on the house, and that solved that problem. Although our basement is unfinished, it has ductwork, so it’s heated and cooled to some extent. We opted to leave those vents open to draw out moisture and keep the air circulating. And we also run three dehumidifers down there. Because of this, our basement isn’t the least bit musty. Kind of unusual for its age.

      We’ve never had mice in the house (knock on wood), but we do get mole crickets in the basement. We keep sticky traps out for them. Works like a charm. And I tend to keep flour and grains in the freezer to prevent pantry moths, weevils, etc.

  11. It sounds like you have a pretty solid foundation for your stockpile. We just found out our dehumidifier was recalled again! This is the second time that has happened to us. Make sure you Google it and look to see if your models are on the list. Maybe you already know about it, but I wanted to mention it just in case. Happy Thanksgiving! I’m definitely going to try the cranberry cobbler recipe. 🦃😀

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