With the recent launch of the new couponing show on TLC, I have been getting an abundance of phone calls, emails, and messages from people wanting to know how to shop like that. My answer is always the same: you shouldn't do that. Not on that scale anyway. Many stores and manufacturer's are also watching the show and seeing how some couponers exploit the couponing system, and are making changes that affect those of us who use them in the correct manner. While strategic shopping IS a good idea, you just have to do it on a smaller scale, and make sure you are obeying the laws (NOT buying or selling coupons, it is Fraud!) and the policies of each store you shop at.
I am fortunate to live very close to a store that doubles most coupons up to $1. While the prices on non-sale items is higher than my mass market store, sale items paired with coupons enable me to get many items at a very low price. However, they only allow you to double one "like" coupon per day. If I happen to purchase extra papers some weeks and have 3-4 of the same coupon, that means I can't get 3-4 items on the same day and have that coupon doubled. I have to visit the store 3-4 times within the sale week to use all of my coupons. This isn't an issue for me, because my store is just outside of my neighborhood. BUT, they do not allow you to use 40 of one coupon in a single transaction.
Other people don't understand stockpiling and wonder why one earth people would do that. The simple answer is strategic shopping. It pays to stock up on items when they are at a rock bottom price. For example, last fall, my store had Kellogg cereal on sale at a very low price when you bought 4 boxes at a time. I had coupons for different varieties of the cereal, and when you bought 4 boxes, you got a free gallon of milk. The sale started on Wed and I went every single day and bought the limit. That Saturday I got the early edition of the paper and it had more cereal coupons in it. I knew the cereal sale would last another 10 days, so I purchased the most papers I have ever bought at once, and got 10. I continued to go every day for 10 days and get my limit. I then had a stockpile of 40 boxes of cereal. The milk was used right away. My oldest son has medical issues and is under the care of a nutritionist, and part of his diet is a ton of milk, so we use a gallon per day anyway. With his high calorie diet, and the natural appetite of growing boys, he and his brothers ate ALL of that cereal within 3 months. That meant none of it went to waste or expired, and I didn't have to buy cereal for 3 months. I could use the money I normally allotted for that to put towards stocking up on something else.
At other times of the year, it makes sense to stock up on other things. In the late fall, I stock up on canned soup when it's on sale. With 5 people in the house, when one person gets sick, all of us tend to get sick. As the only shopper in the house, it's hard to go out for soup when you or one of the kids is sick, so I like to keep several cans on hand. This year, when it went on sale, it was a deal similar to the cereal situation, and I was able to go every day for 14 days and get 5 cans. When people look in your pantry and see 70 cans of soup they think you are crazy....until you all get the flu and that soup is gone in a flash! If 5 people each eat 2 can's per day, that's a 7 day supply. The sickness went longer this year, due to a couple of people getting secondary infections (even though we got flu shots!), so I ended up having to go out and get more soup at full retail price.
For me, stockpiling is all about common sense. Determine what YOUR family will use in a reasonable time (sale cycles are usually 8-12 weeks in my area), or donate anything you get and will not use. Don't get more than what's reasonable, don't waste, and don't violate the rules. Stockpiling can be hoarding if you are gathering more items than you will use before it expires, and are not donating the excess. If the stockpile is taking over your home, that's probably too much.