- Identify the need Find a charity in your area that you want to support, and call to ask what kinds of donations it is seeking. For example, maybe a shelter has plenty of pasta but no sauce. Keep checking in, as the charity’s needs will change throughout the year. Canned goods, for instance, might be on its wish list for Thanksgiving baskets.
- Raid your own pantry Get in the habit of sorting through your stockpile once a month and taking out the items your family won’t use by the expiration date. By tracking sales cycles—prices are typically marked down every 6 to 12 weeks—and figuring out how much your family consumes during that time, you can get an idea of what you should keep and what you might give away.
- Shop for extras Before you hit the grocery store, determine which items are free or almost free after combining coupons and sales. Try to find at least one gratis item each week. If you’re new to couponing, or if you don’t have time to stack the deals yourself, let a savvy frugal blogger do the work for you. For example, couponmom.com marks suggested donation items with the word charity, and time2saveworkshops.com posts a weekly roundup of free or less-than-$1 items (click on “Time 2 Give” in the menu bar).
- Start a charity bin Collect all your donation items in a large box or plastic container near your pantry or stockpile. At the end of every season (or when the box is full), contribute the contents to the organization you’ve chosen.
- Get the right items to those in need Stock up on necessities so you can donate from your stockpile and do the most good. Keep an eye out for markdowns on the following "most-wanted" foodstuffs: boxed cereal, canned protein (stew, chili, tuna, beans, etc.), oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, rice, peanut butter, canned soup, pasta and canned pasta sauce (no glass jars)
- Don't stop with food! Get the list of "most-wanted" household items