I want to live in Mel Gibson's apartment in Conspiracy Theory
August 26, 2011 12:02 PM   Subscribe

What is worth stocking up on?

The other day I ran out of deodorant and quick ran to Target. Only to find an hour later that I was out of laundry detergent. DAGNABBIT! I immediately vowed to buy 100 of everything so as to severely minimize my number of trips to stupid stores.

But now I am wondering...what can I really stock up on? I assume toothpaste will last forever, so buying 10 tubes is no problem. Ditto deodorant, toofbrushes, TP, toilet bowl cleaner etc.

Is there anything that on first glance might *seem* stock-uppable but really isn't? Are there things that you personally stock up on that other people might not have considered?

Also...What food items will last forever? Not 6 months, forever. Cuz I don't want to micromanage expiry dates. But whatever food stuff would last forever I'd be up for hoarding. Salt I assume, but not herbs/spices right? Cooking oil? Honey I hear lasts indefinitely. Anything else?
posted by ian1977 to Home & Garden (31 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Paper towels. I pretty much always buy paper towels. Oh, and wisdom.
posted by Fister Roboto at 12:04 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Noodles, rice, white distilled vinegar, flour, baking soda, money, salt, pencils, paper, soy sauce, sugar, microfiber cloth, isopropyl alcohol.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:09 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

The fat in cooking oil rots slowly, so it has a limited shelf life.
posted by cnc at 12:11 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tampax, if you are so inclined.
posted by elizardbits at 12:12 PM on August 26, 2011

No tampax for me, I am outclined.
posted by ian1977 at 12:13 PM on August 26, 2011 [63 favorites]

Whole grains don't last forever, sadly, though they do last a long time in the freezer. Cooking oil goes rancid eventually too. Whole spices last a long time (2 years) if kept in a cool, dark, dry place. Dried fruit/meat, jam, and anything with high amounts of sugar, salt, or acid will last a long time. But most healthy food doesn't.
posted by smorange at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2011

You want to Google "Mormon Pantry List" or Grocery Stockpile List as a starting point.

What food items will last forever? Not 6 months, forever. Cuz I don't want to micromanage expiry dates.

Almost no food will actually last "forever". MRE's maybe.
posted by anastasiav at 12:21 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

I always like to have one extra on hand - if I open my last full bottle of laundry detergent, it goes on the list. However, I also shop sales & match up coupons, so I often will have three or four extra bottles of laundry detergent (but not rooms with shelves of them!).

I find that you're pretty safe buying shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, cereal, toilet paper, paper towels, etc in bulk. Don't micromanage expiration dates, but check them when you pick up items at the store - often, cereal is good for a year or two, at least, unopened.
posted by needlegrrl at 12:23 PM on August 26, 2011

Beans will last a long time.

As an aside, I know you can buy certain foodstuffs via Amazon on a subscription basis. You pick the frequency, and that often, your order for those items is resubmitted, and delivered right to your door. A friend of mine used it for diapers, and said it was a godsend.
posted by crunchland at 12:25 PM on August 26, 2011

this might be tangential to your question. but have you considered using a service like alice? they will mail you pretty much any none perishable household good.
posted by phil at 12:25 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:25 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Vinegar - whatever kind you use for food, and also white distilled vinegar for cleaning.

Cooking oil expires, especially once you open it. It's a pantry staple, but it's not the kind of "forever" product you're looking for.

Dried spices and herbs can last for years. Some people say to replace all them every year just to keep them fresh, but this isn't essential.

(I'm guessing Ian doesn't need feminine hygiene products.)
posted by John Cohen at 12:34 PM on August 26, 2011

Before I had kids, I always bought small "convenient to carry" quantities because the stakes were low. But now not only do we use more, but also a trip to the store is less convenient with toddlers.

One thing I definitely have a large long-term supply of is toilet paper. I put a 12-pack in a purpose-bought 20-gallon trash can with a tight-fitting lid and some plastic trash liner bags.

Most other stuff I don't worry about to much because there is generally backup due to variety.
posted by markhu at 12:44 PM on August 26, 2011

Oh, I forgot to mention: beware the theory that "deodorant, toilet bowl cleaner etc." might last forever. I had the pleasure as a child of exploring a landlord's garage that had not been opened in about 20 years. Lots of cosmetics and stuff had turned to goo. Of course I guess a lot might depend on two factors:
1. was it stored "factory sealed"
2. is the temperature stable (and not too hot)
posted by markhu at 12:48 PM on August 26, 2011

Items used to repair things. Glue. Extra bike tubes. Light bulbs. Etc. It's nice to be able to fix something right away, rather than waiting on a trip to the store.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:50 PM on August 26, 2011

Cuz I don't want to micromanage expiry dates.

Part of the trick here is to not micromanage, but just be aware of shelf life and the need to rotate stuff. So you get a cardboard box full of canned goods, that (just for example) will last 5 years. You try to get a one years' supply, and you write "2011" on it. And You eat it before 2016. In 2017 you eat the "2012" box.

The downside here is that you are always eating old food.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:00 PM on August 26, 2011

I realize this is a bit tangential to your question, but here's a strategy that might make the answer unnecessary.

You do not need to stockpile anything, to avoid running out of it. What you do is start with one of everything that doesn't have an expiration date. When you run out of each individual thing, buy two of them. Once you've bought two of something (or two packages, in the case of soap and toilet paper, for instance) buy a new one when you're down to one (or one package.)

In a couple of months, you'll be in the habit, and you won't run out of anything, because you'll be going to the store more often to get goods with an expiration date -- you simply decide to replenish the second item (or second package) of each item that is down to one when you go to the grocery store for stuff that expires.

And if you still find yourself running short of a few things -- go up to three on those.

This strategy works because it ensures you never run out of non-expiring things, but you don't have to do a huge expensive up-front stockpile, and your stock gets used up before it goes bad (no 20-years-of-not-being-used problem.)
posted by davejay at 1:03 PM on August 26, 2011 [18 favorites]

why yes I did work as a stockperson at a small drug store as a young adult, why do you ask?
posted by davejay at 1:04 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

The various soaps in your life .. .laundry, body, toothpaste, dishwasher or sink. They usually store very well and are great to stock up on and if you can hit a sale/coupon combo you can save a bit of money too.

Light bulbs and batteries are another thing I always make sure I have enough of. I get the sanyo Eneloop rechargeable ones as they will hold a charge for ages so you can have a bunch ready to go when you need them. I find normal rechargables go flat too fast for me.

Stockpile any medicines you might use, ibuprofen, cold medicine, allergy stuff there is nothing worse than trying to go buy some at 2 in the morning when you feel like crap. I also make sure I have a months back up of my prescription blood pressure as I can't stop taking it or get rebound problems, so getting caught in a blizzard with no medicine left last winter has made me super paranoid about keeping some on hand.

You don't need to keep a lot of anything to keep the supply chain rolling and not run out for most things I work on one in use and a spare. When I run out I move the spare into use and add it to my shopping list for my next trip and that keeps my "stockpile" full.
posted by wwax at 1:05 PM on August 26, 2011

You might want to try using a service like alice.com or soap.com - you can build a 'grocery list' of sorts and just have them send you a shipment of essentials every couple of weeks. Over time they learn your exact usage patterns and can adjust your order.
posted by jourman2 at 1:07 PM on August 26, 2011

Pesto. Just buy a ton of basil, whip up some pesto, and you can freeze it for some time.

And boy is pesto the best-o.
posted by Fister Roboto at 1:18 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

What food items will last forever? Not 6 months, forever.

Salt, vinegar and honey. That's seriously about the end of the list, because virtually everything else can and will go bad on a long enough of a timeline. Essentially it's difficult/impossible to prevent everything from going bad unless you can successfully prevent rodents, insects and especially moisture from getting in. That is going to require some serious packaging for even the long lasting items such as flour and dried pasta, the boxes and bags won't cut it. Some things such as medicine or oils will break down over time no matter what you do.

Consider instead doing the following: Make a list of everything you use or need, be it personal items or food. Plan on a once or twice a year shopping trip to stock up. Make sure to have plenty of everything in the list. Make the list, wait a week, then add anything you missed. Then off to Costco.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:31 PM on August 26, 2011

I've started Amazon Subscribe and Save on a few key items for this very reason. I hate going to the store for 1 thing and coming out with 50. Here's what's on my current subscription list:
  • toilet paper
  • laundry soap
  • dishwasher soap
  • lube
  • coffee
  • personal wipes
  • breakfast cereal.

  • posted by cosmicbandito at 1:33 PM on August 26, 2011

    Toilet paper - but you are eventually going to run out of things. That's how things are. I'd rather two Target trips than a visit from Hoarders.
    posted by crankyrogalsky at 1:37 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

    Some notes on the above:

    I am pretty sure that deodorants/anti-perpirants do have expiration dates.

    Coffee doesn't last forever. I once made a pot of coffee at my mom's and it tasted like really hot water. I was surprised because it was 'new'. Then I checked the date on the bottom--5 years old. Eeeew.

    Rice doesn't last forever, esp. not brown rice.

    However...Nthing paper products like toilet paper and kleenex. My parents shop for them whenever there's a sale anywhere. They don't rotate though, so once in a while I'll see some funky 80s-era kleenex box in the living room or pastel-coloured TP in the powder room.
    posted by methroach at 1:55 PM on August 26, 2011

    If you have a cat, kitty litter lasts forever. Cat food does not.

    Be careful on stockpiling common OTC medicines, as these do have an expiry date that always sneaks up on me. On more than one occasion I've been wrecked with a cold thinking "I know I have Nyquil Nighttime here..." only to find it expired 6 months ago. Now, it's been decided here on ask.mefi that these things are usually ok to take after their expiry date, but you asked for things that last forever.
    posted by cgg at 3:12 PM on August 26, 2011

    sponges. soap. shampoo. contact lens solution/saline solution. shaving cream. razor blades. dryer sheets. toothbrushes or toothbrush heads if you have an electric toothbrush. insect repellant. sunscreen. floss. q-tips. cotton balls. kleenex. tp. paper towels. windex. diced tomatoes. visine.

    I mean, nothing lasts forever, but I can't imagine you really meant forever forever. I buy enough of the above to get through a year, pretty much.
    posted by DuckGirl at 8:11 PM on August 26, 2011

    Not yet mentioned: foil, and related wrapping stuff on rolls. Just recently I finished off a Costco-size roll of foil after four years and was very happy to've spent that long without having to waste brain space on "buy more foil soon."

    I have a plastic container sized to fit rolls of wrapping paper, which is one of the dopiest things I've ever purchased -- or so I once thought, but, if you buy all your wrap and ribbon at Boxing Day sales and have a box so you do not throw the stuff away or manage to get it all dinged at the back of a closet, it's nice to have a hoard of gift wrap.
    posted by kmennie at 9:11 PM on August 26, 2011

    Nthing the "buy two" angle, and buying a replacement when the first one runs out. This is what we do for our bird food -- we have to mail-order it -- and for shower soap. Funny, your detergent anecdote + just realizing an hour ago I'm almost out of detergent = putting detergent in this same category.

    Basically, think of anything you use and it's very inconvenient when you run out: soaps, razor blades yes, contact solution, sunscreen, and OH MY GOD yes to foil/parchment paper/baggies, etc. Water filters, if you use them; we really milk ours, but then we'll go for two weeks with sorta weird-tasting waster because we haven't gotten around to buying another. Not a problem when we buy a three pack, or last time buying two at once. Garbage bags.

    You can do this with semi-perishable stuff if you use it frequently enough and it lasts long enough, too. I eat enough eggs, and they last long enough, that it makes sense for me to always have a back-up dozen of eggs, for example. It's trial and error, really, to put stuff in this mental category.
    posted by Nattie at 10:24 PM on August 26, 2011

    Any of my staples that keeps for a year or more, I buy multiples of when they go on sale. It's like the "buy 2 of them" approach, only I buy like 4 or 6 of them when there's a decent discount. They usually last me until the next time they go on sale.

    I just remembered -- while cleaning out my now-spouse's cluttered cupboards during the first few months I'd moved into his place, I found a stash of very nice pearl stud earrings in a velvet bag. 4 or 5 identical pairs! He said he'd bought them a year or two previously, on sale, in a burst of optimism regarding his dating prospects. Heh. That plan wouldn't work for most jewelry items (tastes are too subjective), but pearl stud earrings are classic enough to be a pretty good bet. Not for me since my ears aren't pierced. Our friends and family were delighted to receive them. But I had a good time telling people the story of his bachelor pragmatism.
    posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:22 AM on August 27, 2011

    No tampax for me, I am outclined.
    posted by ian1977 at 3:13 PM on August 26

    Seriously, though, it is nice to keep a few in the medicine cabinet in case a guest needs one.
    posted by mlis at 6:59 PM on August 27, 2011

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