Build a Better Pantry: How I use Sales Cycles to Build My Food Storage

When you’re shopping for foods for your family, don’t you always wish you could plan ahead a little and know when stuff was going to be on sale? Well, you totally can with knowing your sales cycles! And you can build your PREPared pantry while you’re doing it!

When you're shopping for foods for your family, don't you always wish you could plan ahead a little and know when stuff was going to be on sale? Well, you totally can with knowing your sales cycles! And you can build your PREPared pantry while you're doing it!

I Plan Ahead as a Prepared, Smart Shopper

Grocery stores tend to rotate their products on sales in an anticipated cycle throughout the year. You’ll see reports from every six weeks to every three months to every twelve weeks. Big national chains with huge buying power will do it more often, smaller chains might do it less often. But we’re going to go with the six weeks model for the purposes of the post.

You may have to adjust this depending on where you are and what your stores are offering. If you see that your favorite brand of tomato sauce is on sale this week – you can bet that in about six weeks it will probably be on sale again. Traditionally speaking, a smart shopper would stock up on enough for six weeks to get you through to the next sale. But a REALLY smart, prepared shopper, will use those sales periods to begin stocking their pantry not only for the next six weeks, but the next six months or more!

Those sales cycles won’t always be the absolute best sale price it will ever be, but it will be on sale – and you can match those sales to the coupons the manufacturer might be putting out at the same time for double the benefit! Then as each cycle comes through,  you can begin putting more and more back for what you need, building it up only while it’s on sale, making the most of your money and applying it back to stock up for other things! That’s a Prepared Smart Shopper!

An Example (or three)

So let’s say that I’m looking to stock paper plates. It’s almost Memorial Day. I know the Seasonal Sales Cycle is about to start for summer products (see below), so I’ll buy just a package of paper plates to put aside for our emergency items for an extended power outage. But once the summer BBQ season hits, I’ll be looking for coupons + sales to stock up in a big way. Or, if my favorite brand of spaghetti sauce goes on sale this week for a near rock bottom price, I’ll restock what we’ve used, plus buy however many more I need to the next sales cycle comes around.

This way, I’ll be gradually building up that stock to where I’m only replacing what I’ve used and still have a good six month to a year supply. (and yes, I know that I could just make my own, but we’ve yet had a good enough tomato crop to do it, nor are my canning skills ready for real canning…but that’s the plan!)

However, if peanut butter happens to be on sale and it’s the best price I’ve seen, I’m going to stock up on it majorly, regardless of when the next sales cycle is, because it’s the lowest price, we’re going to go through it, it won’t go bad, and I want to make sure we have enough (anyone remember the huge price increase after a bad peanut crop summer 2 years ago?).

When I know the sales cycle is about to start up again on a particular product we use a lot of, I will check for coupons for that product to help add to my savings, but I don’t count on those coupons to get me to my lowest price because there aren’t always coupons available, but they sure do help!

Not all products go on sale, either. Some manufacturers choose not to promote even seasonal sales with them, so you’ll have to know your stuff. And not every sales cycle is going to be at the lowest price, but it might be low enough to go ahead and buy til the next round.

Also, I don’t want you to feel panicked because you missed a sales cycle on ketchup and you think that you can’t buy ketchup for the next two months. Buy the ketchup. Put some aside, but when the next sales cycle comes for your ketchup – STOCK IT!

Seasonal Sales Cycles

Using the seasons to plan for those things that are on sale in a yearly cycle.


  • Cold/Flu Season – look for symptom relief items AND items to help keep clean
  • Superbowl – snack items (check for whole foods that might be in this category like nuts and jerkies, etc.)
  • Diet Food – while I won’t comment on what I think about most ‘diet’ foods, you might find something stockpile beneficial to your family 🙂
  • Oatmeal – Find oatmeal products on sale + some of the major manufacturers will probably put oatmeal related products on sale, too. (cereals, etc.)


  • Valentine’s Day – an awesome day to stock up on cheap chocolate and baking items. (See seasonal list below)
  • Canned Foods – This is National Canned Foods month, so you bet there are going to be big promotions on canned foods of all kinds.
  • End of Winter Sales


  • Frozen Foods – This is National Frozen Foods Month so it’s a super time to stock up!
  • St. Patrick’s Day – another chocolate overload time, but also look for post-holiday clearance on corned beef you can freeze or can.
  • Easter – eggs are on sale! Freeze them, scramble and make burritos to freeze, dehydrate them!


  • Easter/Post Easter – Passover items, candy, baking goods will be in clearance, too
  • Earth Day – organic products on sale


  • Memorial Day – look for meat, grilling items like charcoal, condiments
  • Paper Products – great items to stock up on for emergency times when water may be scarce.


  • National Dairy Month – look for sales on all things dairy


  • 4th of July – meat sales, grilling items
  • Ice Cream Month – no only on ice cream, but on makes and associated products.  You might also find these things clearancing out at the end of the month.


  • Post Summer sales – might find grilling stock on sale for cheap!
  • Back to School – Big sales will start popping up from July through early September for back to school related products including ready to eat, snacks, snack drinks, so keep a close eye out on those sales and stock appropriately. Included will be another push for seasonal cold/flu items that you can stock up on (tissues, cold items, sanitizers, etc.) (See Seasonal List below)
  • End of Canning Season – (while it might not really be for you, begin to look for stores trying to clear out any remaining canning overstock.
  • End of Summer Sales (See Seasonal list below)


  • Labor Day – whether it was in August or in September, last, great red meat stock up of the year 🙂


  • Halloween – chocolate – it’s good for morale 🙂 (See Seasonal List below)
  • Daylight Savings – this might be a good time to check for battery sales in your area


  • Baking Items – pumpkin + baking items will be showing up everywhere  – even though on sale, be sure to know your prices. You might do better stocking up in December.


  • Baking Items
  • Post-Christmas

Something to keep in mind for larger stores: During seasonal times, your stores may stock a lot of non-food items that you can use for preparedness purposes. We have a grocery store that has a very large seasonal area and carries so much product during the Christmas/winter season, summer, and most of the other major holidays, seasonal periods.

I’m always scoping out the sales table when we shop just in case I can find more stainless steel water bottles for $1.34, or a 5-gallon gas can for $4!

Note: I know that many couponers might stop by and think we’re hoarders. We’re not. We’re preparing our family for emergencies that may come up in our lives by making sure we have enough to get through a long-term job loss, local disaster, etc. I do not advocate clearing a shelf for any product in greed. I do not advocate cheating a system. What I do advocate is making sure that you have what your family needs, rotate it properly, and use what you purchase, not stock up in your garage and let it go to waste because you can’t use it quickly enough, aren’t rotating it, or aren’t donating the extras to food banks or other charities.

How I use Coupons to Help Me Prepare for Emergencies

How I Use Sales Cycles to Help Me Prepare for Emergencies

How I use Price Lists to Help Me Prepare for an Emergency

How I Use Menu Plans to Help Me Prepare for an Emergency

Other Great Resources

The Pantry Primer by Organic Prepper  (this is my favorite series – Daisy shows you how to build your pantry from scratch with TONS of useful information)

Use Sales Cycles to become better PREPared!

Mom with a PREP | It is the end of winter, and everything is on clearance. What items should you be looking for to prep for your family? Would you believe there are ways to stock your food and emergency storage from post Valetnine's Day Sales? It's not just chocolate! Fill up your pantry's love bank with these great deals and PREPare your family for emergencies -- on the cheap! Mom with a PREP | It's Back to School time -- and you can take advantage of the big sales and help your family become a little more PREPared in the process! #prepare4life #backtoschool #schoolsupplies What can you stock up on in the after halloween clearance sales to help your family be more PREPared? #prepare4life

When you're shopping for foods for your family, don't you always wish you could plan ahead a little and know when stuff was going to be on sale? Well, you totally can with knowing your sales cycles! And you can build your PREPared pantry while you're doing it!

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Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.

She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what's coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.

Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).

Her preparedness skills go beyond just being "ready", she's ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she's feeding her family, she's a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.

Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.

Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.

She's been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.

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