Extreme Couponing Tip: Stocking Up After Power Outage

Extreme Couponing Tip: Stocking Up After Power Outage

If you live in the tri-state area or along the East Coast, your fridge might look like mine in the picture above, after being in the dark from Hurricane Sandy for 8 days!  I know so many of you still have no power, but when you do get it back, I know your fridge and freezers will look like this too–completely empty!  I’m trying to see the bright side…I now have a very clean fridge 🙂

Now it’s time stock up on everything!  Here are a few tips to help make this process as smooth and stress-free as possible:

  • Take your time:  Don’t feel the need to restock every single item that was in your fridge before the power outage.  Be patient and start out just getting the essentials you need such as milk, eggs, butter, etc.  Wait for a sale or a good deal on other items such as mayonnaise, juice, cheese, etc.  This will help you to not break the bank while trying to replace everything all at once.
  • Survive on your stockpile for a while:  This is a great time to take advantage of all our hard work stockpiling non perishable foods.  Be creative and try and come up with meals using just items in your stockpile until you can completely replenish your freezer and refrigerator.
  • Coupon now more than ever:  Now is a great time to really sit down and commit to strategically planning your best shopping trips yet because you need so much.  Consider shopping at more than one store to pick up the best deals at each store.  Be sure to check the various Coupon Match Ups provided each week to help you strategically plan your shopping trip.  Just visit the LRWC homepage and scroll over the “Find My Store” tab to select your store!

What are your tips for restocking after a power outage?

Do you have an idea for an Extreme Couponing tip you’d like to see addressed?  Leave your ideas in the comments!

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  • Coleen S.

    Sandy, thank you for posting this. I was without power for only five days but I still had to get rid of everything in my fridge. I paced myself and tried to only replenish the essentials: eggs, milk, etc. Then, I lost power again last night in the Nor’Easter and I was so upset I would lose what little I had left. Power restored today so thankfully, that did not happen. What is your advice for this: Even though we should not try to restock every single item right away, how can we pass up the good deals that are currently going on? Do you have a good tip on how to get the good deals while we replenish what we need?

    • Jill

      Cindy….Sandy was the hurricane that ruined your food, lol

  • Anne

    I was lucky that, after losing power, my father invited the family to his home. We took advantage of the empty space in his refridgerators prioritized our perishables. I left the produce out and took only minimum condiments that we preferred not to lose (mayonaisse, sesame paste). But, before the storm, I raided my recycling container (soda, water, juice bottles) for anything I could wash out, put filtered water in (if we lost water) and froze before hurricane hit. It allowed my perishables to last until we could get to my dad’s.

  • Shannon

    I would love to taje advantage of all of the great sales out right now, but am still skittish about excess driving with the low gas supply. Any tips on how to get great deals without wasting too much gas?

    • Jessie

      Shannon, pick stores that are close together and go to them all during the same trip, or pick one main store and let the rest go.

      • Donna

        And just bring some insulated bags for the frozen/refrigerated stuff to keep things cold while you are in a different store.

    • Arielle

      Right now I’m only going to stores that are directly on my route to and from work: Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, Walgreens, and CVS. I’m trying to cut down on extra unnecessary trips. (For example, the Shoprite in Bound Brook, NJ is down the block from the Walgreens, so instead of driving the short distance I keep my car in the Shoprite parking lot and walk over.)

      LWRC is also great for cutting down my trips: I make sure I have all the coupons and deals I could possibly use before going to the store, so that I don’t have to make extra trips.

      • Lady J

        be careful wioth this, because some places do tow as soon as you step foot off the lot.

    • jonnie

      What gas shortage?? BOTH governors have made many press conferences about having adequate gas supplies. Where are you from?

  • Jill

    My advice would be to save up and purchase a generator. I lost power for 7 days and the generator saved all our perishable food besides keeping my family comfortable with a pellet stove, cooked meals and lights. We would have been fine if we only had showers! We are now looking to upgrade to a unit that will support the hot water heater. It’s a good idea not to wait until another storm is looming. Generators were VERY hard to find two weeks ago and prices were outrageous. The $500 we spent gave us some basic needs and saved hundreds of dollars worth of food.

    • Jessie

      Too true! I was shocked to see a pile of generators for sale at Shoprite on Monday, and all the shoppers completely ignoring them. I grabbed one without thinking twice. We had already gotten our power back, but we’ll be ready for next time.

    • Arielle

      Unfortunately not all of us can use generators 🙁 I live in an apartment building and there’s nowhere for the generator’s exhaust to go if I use one. Are there any generator models that are safe to use for apartment living?

    • cris

      do you know how much it cost to actually run your generator? We only lost power for 2 days, fortunately, but I was thinking that if it was out for a whole week, it would have cost $500 in gas to run it, and I don’t think my food would add up to that.

      • Jessie

        Cris, if you get an invertor to go with your generator, it saves you a bundle. Basically, the invertor is a battery that the generator charges. You can run the generator for a short time, charge the invertor, and then plug things into the invertor. It can run for hours on its charge without you continuing to run the generator. This saves you from having to run the generator for hours on end and spend a fortune in gas. It’s well worth the additional cost.

        • cris

          thanks! great advice! I will check into it. We lose power all the time, we are on an old grid, and about 6 blocks of our neighborhood loses it while the rest of the houses stay lit. So frustrating!

      • Jill

        We had to fill about 5 gallons of gas for 12 hours. We alternated between running the generator for several hours and shutting it down for a little under 3. It was an expense BUT I guess our propane heat, electric, and water bill will be cut by about 25% this month. I’m also in the Poconos and we get a bit chillier in the mountains. A week with no heat would have been hard with four kids and two small dogs. Normally, we don’t have such extended outages. I hope this doesn’t happen again anytime soon but even 6 hours of no power can spoil the fridge. I’m sure the generator will save the food multiple times over the years.

      • Lady J

        i hear if you run a generator 24/7, it will cost you $250 a day.

        • Jill

          Generators come in all different sizes. My portable 5500 generator is very small in comparison to my neighbors hardwired generator that lights and heats her entire home and runs on propane. Her generator is very small in comparison to the generator being used at the supermarket.

      • Laura D.

        It depends on the size of your generator and exactly what you plan to power.
        It also depends on what your generator runs on, gas, fuel oil, propane.

        To power 24/7 a 3500 sq ft home with a propane fueled large generator while opening your home to surrounding community to charge phones, computers and take hot showers you will pay approx. $500 for 9+ days. Which is about $55 per day.

        A smaller gasoline generator to power just some items can use much less, about 2 1/2 gallons of gas per day.

        You will want to speak to a place that specializes in generators to see what size would best suit your needs. It is also a good idea to write down the amperage of the items you would like to power. Fridge, freezer, furnace, hot water heater, etc. You MUST learn how to properly use it so you don’t destroy (fry, burn up) your appliances when you turn it on, or set your house on fire. Many people in my area were first time generator operators with this storm, the local fire departments were very busy due to the assumption you just plug stuff in and power it up!

        Generators are GREAT, just please use them safely! 😉

        • Gen

          $500 for NINE DAYS?! Don’t know ANYTHING that runs THAT efficiently and I’m the one selling these items! Wow.

        • Jerrie

          And it’s not amperage…it’s WATS.

        • Lady J

          I feel that if you can’t run your furnace, what’s the point? The furnace is tricky to hook up because you have to sync the sign wave, or you can fry it. They have natural gas generators that run on the same gas that’s pumped into your house. They cost more now, but they can run the whole house, and cost less in fuel than gasoline generators (not to mention gas lines if they have gas or electric to pump).

          But at any rate, you must be careful with CO. I can’t tell you how many people I saw running generators out of their garages and they think they’re safe because they left the garage door open a crack. Generators need to be 20 feet out from your house. You can smell or see CO, but enough of it will kill you.

          • Lady J

            sorry CAN’T smell or see CO.

        • Lady J

          i don’t think I would go with propane. As hard as gasoline was to find, propane was even harder to find.

  • Lesly

    Thanks for the tips..unfortunately we still have no power in westchester county area in ny it’s been 10 days …and yes, our home is freezing

    • Maggie S

      Lesly, Where are you i’m in Lower Westchester. Got power last night, but my fridge looks just like Cindy’s. If you need anything let me know. Also If you want to exchange couons any time I’d love to. Or maybe a shopping buddy! Stay warm!

  • Leslie

    Well, thanks to the stock pile I was able to eat from the fridge, freezer and pantry. I have not been to the supermarket since before the storm with the exception of yesterday to purchase milk and bread only. I am still without power but going strong with what I have available. Many items were placed in coolers outside with ice. I began creating meals from refrigerator items supplemented with what was in the pantry. From there I started using items from the freezer as they defrosted. I had four major candlelit parties around my fireplace hosting several families at one time who were also without power and heat. I kept warm all day by cooking on my gas top. I even turned my gas grill into an oven and baked mini muffins from the many packages I purchased for almost nothing when couponing. My teenage son told me he was having a great time at our Hurricane Sandy parties with all the kids who have been coming to dinner with their families. Furthermore, I was able to use most of the hefty and solo paper products I purchased couponing. The paper products were very handy without a dishwasher. My stockpile has served me well and continues to do so as I wait for power in my home. Thanks to a friend who recently lent us a generator am I able to catch up with LRWC which I missed just as much as my power during the aftermath of this storm. Once my power is restored and I am back in my routine with kids and work I look forward to restocking with tips from LRWC and its readers.

  • Mark

    Look in your binder for rain checks. I had a Smart Balance Milk rain check and Land o lake eggs. Had coupons for both.

  • Trina

    I lost everything was out of power for 7 days, cleaned out freezer and 2 refrigerators, only could salvage, 2 pds of chicken and some jamba juice smoothies. Everything else was trashed. I have not went shopping but for the basics. I am going to get my coupons togethre again, and start over. I decided I dont need 10 butterball turkey bacon just because i get them for .39cents lol. So I dont think I will fill up my freezers ,like that again. I lost so much stuff.

  • CE

    I am going on day 11 with no power and am so fed up I feel like crying. I cannot even clean out my fridge since by the time I get home from work, it’s dark and too cold to even think about cleaning out my fridge. I agree with Trina, I am not going to stock up on items I don’t really need just because it’s at a good price. I had so much ice cream and popsicles in my freezer that I had to throw away. Such a waste.

    • Anonymous

      CE you are not alone. Like you I still do not have power but a very clean refrigerator. In fact 90% of my town was restored except my neighborhood. I spent a lot of time in a very cold house cooking on the gas cook top and inviting friends over to dinner. After day seven I was saved by a generator. Not the same as having full power but at least there is heat. Hang in there I am very depressed about the thousands of dollars we have to spend on fallen tree removal. It is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. but i try to count my blessings. In fact I went through my pantry and have 3 bags of dry goods to donate. Best wishes on getting your power back quickly.

  • Arielle

    I lost power for 6 days and had to throw out over 5 lbs. of meat from my freezer, on top of frozen vegetables, ice cream, and dairy products. It was gut-wrenching! But I am definitely taking it slow with replenishing my frozen goods, and just buying one of something if there is a good sale. I’d like to buy a generator for the next power outage but I don’t know if I’d be able to operate one safely out of an apartment. But I’m also taking this time to use up my large stockpile of canned soups! I had so many cans of Campbell’s and Progresso I didn’t even have the room to buy more, so now I’m using them wisely!

  • Robin

    So sorry for all the loss that you all experienced on the East coast.

    I just have a quick question, can you turn this into your homeowners insurance? It is an “Act of God” and under my policy is a covered loss.

    Wish I could help you all restock your fridges. Good Luck!

    • Anonymous

      Last year I was without power from the Halloween storm. I had just stocked my deep freezer for winter and had a full fridge. I did file an insurance claim and it really was not that difficult though it did take about two weeks for my reimbursement.

      My tip is to make sure ahead of time that you have specific coverage for food lost due to a power outage. We own a townhouse and in the policy there is a place that spells out your deductible and what it covers. My case that part of my policy was $100 and covered replacement costs. My insurance company deducted the $100 from the reimbursement and sent me a check for the rest of the amount. If your losses are more than your deductible then do not feel bad about filing a claim.

      As you are cleaning out the fridge/freezer be sure and make a list of exactly what you have. I took pictures but those were not necessary. The adjuster has pricing because you have to replace an item that may not be on
      sale anymore. Consider this when you are considering filing a claim. Be honest and remember the storm wasn’t your fault.

    • sherri

      Just a thought,
      Once power is restored/there is a return to relative normalness/you feel the need to take control over the situation… try calling some of the manufacturers on the coupon list here/staples you like/need to replace..tell them your from the east..request coupons/replacement products..they may be nice and offer to help :o)

    • Lady J

      Well, that was my situation. I heard you can make food loss claims to FEMA, BUT, if you make a food loss claim to them, you have to make one to your home owner’s insurance too. What happens is, they pay, and then raise your rates. Then they cancel your policy when they can, and then it is hard to find insurance and when you do it is expensive. It’s really not worth it. The home owner’s insurance is really for destruction to the home. Many times filing requires you have receipts too. I had receipts, but my actual out of pocket losses for the 5 garbage bags of food I had to throw out was only $50 (thanks couponing). Replacing it when it’s not on sale will cost more (so I will wait), but they are only really concerned with your out of pocket losses. Wehn you have a car that gets totaled, they give you the Kelly Blue Book value of your busted up car, not the money it would cost to replace that vehicle (even if it was previously in mint condition). Yesterday, I got 5 packs of hot dogs on real great deal, so I bought that. There’s a good deal on frozen pizza, so I’ll stock up on that. Some other time I will stock up on something else that’s a really great deal.

      • Angela

        I was the one who posted about the insurance claim I filed. I have a new hard drive – grr on that but I had warranty. In any case I forgot and my name wasn’t put in my post.

        For the record, my homeowner policy rates did not go up as result of my food claim. My company did not drop me nor did I go thru FEMA.We were treated with respect and though we had pictures the insurance agent said they were inundated with photos so need. We went over the list of my items on the phone. It was easy enough for them to verify my power outage loss duration and realize that nothing was safe for human consumption. We live in a townhouse and generators are not legally permitted. I strongly suggest that everyone check with their insurance agents to make sure that the policy in place is the one that best fits your needs. If you rent then check your renters insurance – or get it – because when I rented food loss to power outage was covered. I live in CT and I realize that laws vary from state to state.

        One of the best ways to recover from the loss is to make sure that you are covered in cases like this in the first place.

  • Liz v

    Throwing out food is just painful. It’s super sickening. It’s terrible some of you are still without power, and even worse some families don’t even have a home to go back to.

  • Donna

    I was fortunate that while I lost power, I was still able to cook as my stove uses natural gas (but have been known to use the BBQ grill before we had a gas range). I was cooking up all kinds of meat so that it wouldn’t go bad. I made steaks, lamb chops and a big pot of meat sauce that we could reheat for the next few days. I put it in plastic containers in my garage to keep it cool. That only helps for a few days, but at least we got to use some of it instead of throwing it all away.

  • lina

    My fridge looked like yours last Monday 🙁 I was VERY lucky because my Shoprite triple the coupons this week .I was able to see my fridge full again with your help and I just want to say thank you for everything that you do .I saved $225.31 on my grocery shopping including some extra food for the box that I put together to donate to the victims from SANDY.I’m very grateful it was just the power for us but others they were not that lucky.Gracias again Cindy from the bottom of my Corazon (heart).

    • missy

      What shoprite did you get your coupons tripled at? I’m in Branchburg new jersey

  • Gail Hickman

    I, too lost everything in my refrigerator/freezer and upright freezer. We had no power for 9 days. It was horrible to throw it all away, then I went shopping lightly because the nor’easter was looming. I guess now, since we did not lose the electric again I can shop. I also, took alot of my toiletries stockpile and donated it during the first few days after the storm. My area was devastated and although I lost power I still have my home where many others didn’t. It was great to see how many other donated too, but having the good old stockpile to pick from was great! I agree with the above now that this is the second year in a row that I have lost my freezers I will not stockpile much.

  • Rachel

    Get the basics and then start adding to it. Before you go out check the coupon database for mustard, relish, mayo, and salad dressing coupons. I think French’s has a coupon and there are $1 off hangtags in Stop & Shop on Mt. Olive pickles which you can use to get their relish too. Believe in Heroes had a Heinz ketchup coupon if it’s still there. Good luck!

  • Maria

    I lost power for 6 days. With the impending storm, I tried to clear out my fridge and perishables before Sandy arrived. When we had no power, we did a good job eating through my pantry stockpiles of pasta, etc.

    I, too, have a nice clean fridge now. I replenish the essentials first; but didn’t go overboard because of the northeaster. I set aside my coupons for all the condiments & sauces that I threw away. While I am taking my time and waiting for sales, I just discovered that I don’t have the duck sauce to go with my egg rolls tonight. 🙁

    BTW, it is more efficient for the fridge to run when it is fully stocked so mine’s is storing bottled water.

  • Bettsy

    Thank you for this post… My refrigerator looked exactly like yours, we lost power for 8 days and am greatful for the blessings as others lost so much more. one positive thing that came out of this sad mess – a clean fridge and freezer since they both needed a good cleaning 🙂

    I will start slow and only necessities.

    Take care everyone and hang in there…

  • Lady J

    I was without power for 8 days. I have 2 fridge/freezers and had to throw out 5 garbage bags of food. Thanks to couponing, I think I only spent $50 on those 5 bags. I know these things can be expensive to replace, but I would urge anyone who is considering keeping an item that needs to be refrigerated not to. Your health is not worth the replacement cost. Please, please, please, throw it out!

  • Irene d.

    My refrigerator looks like a clone of Cindy’s. We lost power for 8 days. I haven’t even done my matchups for this week yet. I’m going to restock a little each week. I do want to try and get some chicken at 40% off at ShopRite this week, along with the butter. Wish everyone the best during this hard time. It really was painful to throw out the entire contents of my refrigerator.

    I’m re-visiting the “Got Coupons” listing. So far, I’m getting a 50% positive response from the companies listed.

    Take care everyone.

    • Lady J

      The 40% chicken at SR is expensive! $3 something a pound. Are they trying to say chicken costs $6 and change a pound? I can get a whole cooked chicken at costco for less. It’s usually $1.88/lb when it’s 40% off.

  • Pamela S

    I too lost power-for 8 days- and last year for 1 week with storm Irene. I seem to be in an area that is 1st to go out, and last to come up. So frustrating, and I work with people who never lost power, but also with people who sustained damage or lost cars, so I try to put it in perspective.
    We got a generator late into the 8 day power outage so I did have to throw out a lot, and yes- Lady J- thank you for the reminder that your health is not worth the risk of eating bad food.It is painful, your whole stockpile of sales on Meat, Vegetables, Breakfast sandwiches…but I too bought carefully with coupons and sales, so it was not as bad as it looked.
    I vow to be proactive next time if given warning: reduce stockpile of perishables, I dont need 20lbs of chicken, tons of beef brisket and cheap-

    to-biy frozen vegebables

  • Pamela S

    Anyway, I am going to try to cook prepared meals if time….and pack with ice packs or water filled juice containers. If I have a ton of eggs (like this time), maybe I can make a frittata, and cook up stew or steak to make sandwiches…just a thought…sorry for rambling, hope everyone gets their power back soon….

  • Rachel

    I HATED throwing away all the food in my fridge and freezers. It was seriously painful. I seriously almost cried when our power went out again yesterday from the NorEaster after being without for 7 days (SO glad its restored!). I too am looking into buying a generator. the preserved food would only be a plus, because like someone else stated, thanks to couponing – although I filled two trash cans, I probably spent less than $100 on everything. I just can’t handle that long without heat for my children! Thanks Cindy for all you do!

    • Lady J

      that’s the worst part – the kids. I have a 3 1/2 y.o. and the younger one is almost 2. The oldest one was bundled up and wearing a coat and she said to me “Mommy, I’m cold, can I have your coat to use as a blankie” and it broke my heart. So I took off my coat and made her share it with her sister. We didn’t know anyone who had power that lived close enough to get to. And we couldn’t find a hotel room anywhere in the state. One night we slept on a gas line on the turnpike (they were letting you fill up at a good price and said they never ran out of gas), so I ran the engine. I didn’t sleep, but they slept nice and warm.

      • A

        When I went to Shoprite on Tuesday, the Coleman organic grill pack (4lbs) was $50% and I only paid $6.04. I went back again today and the organic drumsticks were 35% off and I paid $2.21 a package. That’s really a great deal on organic chicken.

        • A

          Sorry, I was responding to the other post about buying chicken at Shoprite.LOL!

  • Diana

    A coworker mentioned that her insurance company is reimbursing her for $400 lost in food, no questions asked, so that’s something to look into.

    • Ins worker-NJ

      reimbursing $400 in food….only for your premium to go UP next cycle for years & years to come. Don’t be foolish. DON’T submit the claim.

  • Liz

    When the storm hit, I took every drink box and bottle of water I could find and stuck them in the freezer so as to create more “ice” if you will to keep the freezer cold longer. Then, after the storm passed, as I emptied my refrigerator/freezer I had my son make a list of the items we were throwing out so I had a grocery list to work from as I went to the stores, and an inventory list to submit to insurance in case they asked to see it. This way I didn’t go crazy at the store trying to figure out what I needed to replace.

  • Lady J

    I have to say, it was annoying having to throw so much stuff away. And it was kind of annoying to clean my fridges again because I just did it in September, but that’s okay. There’s something freeing about an emptier fridge. It’s a time to look at what I’ve done and what I will do going forward. I for one, will no longer freeze meat – not in case I loose it, but because I’m just not good at defrosting it. I don’t remember, and defrosting it in the fridge (the proper safe way to defrost meat) takes about 24 hours. So I will only buy meat now as I can use it. It’ll be fresher and no defrosting required. If I can’t use it in three days, the left over will go in the freezer. I’m saving the space in my freezer for actual frozen foods – things that I buy from my grocer’s freezer, not their fridge.

  • Curls

    Two quick comments: Half empty fridge/freezers don’t run as efficiently. Fill the empty space with pitchers or bottles of water. Remember if freezing water to leave room for expansion.

    Second, we had no power for 7 days. We ran a small generator for 2 fridges, heat, and well water. We did not run it 24/7. More like 1-2 hrs on, 3-4 hrs off. Used about 5 gals of gas a day, so <$20/day.