Stockpiling mistake shoppers are making
If the worst were to happen, Leanne McLennan would have enough groceries at home to get by for four, maybe even six months.
The Central Coast grandmother and mother-of-three is sitting pretty with thousands of grocery items - yes, including toilet paper - stocked up at home thanks to years of careful buying.
Ms McLennan is one of several stockpilers who have been slammed online for sharing photos of their epic grocery home hauls.
People have criticised the mum by saying the stocking up is "extreme", despite the fact that her supply has nothing to do with panic over coronavirus.
"I can only read the comments for so long and it actually gets to me," she told news.com.au. "I've also had wonderful conversations and there's been a couple of people who have defended me."
Ms McLennan - who hasn't bought toilet paper for months - began stockpiling around five years ago while going through a rough patch.
She stores most of her supply in her laundry.
"I was once in a very tough position where I had to rely on charity for food because I just didn't have the money to even meet the bills or rent, I sold everything I owned and I just needed help with food," she told news.com.au.
"I never wanted to be in that position again so I started off slowly, mostly with toiletries, instead of buying one deodorants buy four deodorants, when they're on half price special."
After just a few months of buying toiletries marked down to half-price or less, Ms McLennan had her stockpile of groceries and turned to food.
"It just expanded, I think canned goods were probably next, I've learnt along the way not to stockpile things like cereal we just don't eat it fast enough," she said.
"I have had to throw things out but it's a learning experience and I do not stockpile anything that I've had to throw out."
Today Ms McLennan estimates she would have thousands of groceries in storage at home but people might be surprised to learn how quickly she goes through some foods.
"Diced, peeled tomatoes you would think 30 cans would be enough, however, we ran that down to nothing," she said with a laugh.
"Those items do get run down, vegetables do get run down very quickly, tomato soup gets used. In a lot of things that I cook, pasta sauces get used all the time, pasta gets used all the time."
HOW SHE DOES IT
Surprisingly, the secret to Ms McLennan's stockpiling is that she does all her grocery shopping from the comfort of her home rather than going into stores in the hopes of scoring bargains.
"I shop online, I don't actually get much in the supermarket," she said.
"I go through all of the half price specials, I go through the catalogue … From that I work around what we are going to eat for the week and what I'll buy for the week.
"Half price specials are my number one first, so I shop for my stockpile first and then us second."
Ms McLennan, who lives off a part-time salary and government assistance, said her stockpile has been her saving grace at times.
"I only work part-time and I don't get any more guaranteed hours than 16 hours a week, Centrelink take up the gap of that for my weekly wage. There are weeks I can go four weeks without shopping and we can just live off the stockpile," she said.
"That's been really important, because we now own a house but when rates come in that devastates my pay. There's no money for food for those weeks, I'm afraid."
TOP TIPS FOR STOCKPILING
Ms McLennan's first bit of advice is for people to stop panic buying and don't pay full price for items you are stocking up on.
"Don't panic, well that's just simple," she said. "People are now being forced into buying things full price, which is silly."
Ms McLennan said shoppers should start with something easy like toiletries or cleaning products because they don't have an expiry date.
Be strict and only stockpile items you really need and will use on a regular basis.
"Don't stockpile luxury foods that's just silly," Ms McLennan said. "Stockpiling is about getting by, it's about your basic items and having them there in the back of your pantry so you don't have to go hungry and you can feed your family."
She also disputed claims that stockpiling could only be done by wealthy shoppers.
"I've heard from a lot of people I don't have the money to do this," Ms McLennan said. "Well, I'm telling you I was on Centrelink when I started this and that was why I've started this.
"Just add - instead of buying one deodorant see if you can afford to buy three deodorants. Just buy the extra two and miss out on a luxury."