Great Savings 27 – Buy In Bulk


For some people buying in bulk becomes an obsession—and for good cause. When you buy in bulk, your per unit cost of food (and thus your per unit serving cost) goes down and that cost reduction can really add up. For example, if you cook for a family of four and can cut just 25 cents off the cost of a serving, your meal costs a dollar less. Add that amount up over the course of a year and you save $365! However, buying in bulk doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up with the best deal. That’s why smart shoppers use these 8 Bulk Buying Tips:


Bulk buying is good so long as you know you'll use a product before it expires.

What good in buying bulk if it expires before you’ll use it up?

(1) Check the shelf life first. One key to any bulk purchase is to buy only those items you intend to use up within a product’s shelf life. If you’re uncertain you’ll use the product up before it goes bad you can end up throwing a substantial portion out. So much for savings! Of course, certain products have a long shelf life so are always better bets. These include canned goods, toilet paper, food wrap and batteries.


Some fresh foods are better than others when it comes to buying in bulk.

Some offers scream buy me, like this tub of spinach I found at Costco. It costs half what a smaller bag does at the grocery store and it’s organic.

(2) Only buy what you use. If you see a product in the store that offers a screaming deal on a bulk buy, don’t buy it if you haven’t tried or used it before. Stick to the products you know you love or are certain you’ll use. Otherwise, you’ll end up with cabinets or a refrigerator stock full of things that you’ll eventually toss out.


Great Savings 27 - Buy In Bulk(3) Skip buying “treats” in bulk. Some foods—for example, frozen pizza, candy bars, or that five gallon vat of cookie dough—are probably best to avoid buying in bulk altogether. Though the per unit cost of these items may be better when purchased in quantity, there are hidden cost of eating foods high in fat or sugar. Fats and sugars are hard to resist especially when they’re easily accessible. Why set yourself up to gain weight or develop diseases like diabetes associated with eating too much sugar? The bottom line: Avoid temptation by keeping treats and unhealthily snacks or meals out of the home from the get-go.



This was a great buy. Too bad I don't have room to store it.

This toilet paper was a great buy, but it won’t fit in this cabinet. Now, I’m going to have to get creative. Hmm, I wonder if it’ll fit under the bed?

(4) Don’t buy in bulk if you lack room to store it. What good is there in buying 24 rolls of toilet paper if you don’t have the closet space to store it away? Some items—even those with long shelf lives—are bulky and can clutter up the home. Stick to buying bulk items that are easily stored within the space you already have available. It certainly won’t pay to rent a storage unit just so you can stock up on all the great deals the store has to offer.


Close up opened bags with food clips or clothes pins.

Here’s a smart tip: Use clothes pins to keep chip or cereal bags shut. They’re easy to use and the products stay fresher longer.

(5) Before buying in bulk check around. “Big Box” stores like Costco or Sam’s Club do offer some terrific buys. Yet sometimes the deals are misleading. For example, you may think you’re getting a low price on something like whole wheat flour, but your local grocery store may offer a better deal in their bulk food section. Other advantages of buying in the bulk food section at the grocery store: 1) You’ll end up with less packaging to recycle and 2) you can buy the exact quantity you need—not 50 pounds or an entire case that could take a year to use up. Items often found this way include everything from flours, grains, beans and rice, to spice and dried fruit. It’s worth checking out.


Freezer bags help to keep bulk food purchases fresher longer.

Get some freezer “zip” bags or a food sealer. Separate bulk buys into smaller quantities. Try to remove the air in a bag before sealing and freezing.

(6) Consider repackaging bulk foods. Some food items might seem like a great deal purchased in bulk, but because they’re fresh there’s a good chance they’ll spoil. Whether talking meat or produce, many foods last longer if they’re frozen right away. For example, you can take a bulk package of chicken and separate it into individual bags that you pop in the freezer. And if you stick to a quantity you normally use defrosting is a snap.


One important consideration: You might save a lot of money freezing food, but it pays to properly seal packages first. Zip lock freezer bags work well for this, but first push out any extra air before sealing them. Extra air in a package that goes into freezer equates to extra moisture and that creates ice. When the ice melts and refreezes as your appliance goes through its defrost cycle food eventually gets spoiled. To keep food freshest, buy a food sealer like this one at Amazon. It’s well worth the investment over the long run. Finally, be sure to mark all your packages with the date they go into the freezer so you don’t end up with foods that sit around forever.


Here's a common problem with storing food in the freezer.

Here’s what happens when there’s extra air or moisture in a freezer bag. Eventually the bag builds up ice and that can spoil food.

(7) Rotate bulk foods you buy. Whether you’re talking cans, bags or boxes, it’s important to stock cupboards, refrigerators and freezers so you end up using the oldest products first. Otherwise, you’ll eventually lose out on any savings because some item will hang around in the back of the cupboard or under another item for far too long. A good bet is put the newest can or package in the back of the cupboard or at the bottom of the pile. Most of us (and especially kids) will grab the first item they find on the front of the shelf so stock shelves to make certain the older items are also the easiest to reach.


(8) Share with a friend. Another great way to take advantages of bulk buys is split up the quantity with a friend or loved one. That way there’s less to store or use up in the short term and you still get the best price.


Done right, buying in bulk is bound to save a ton of money, but only if and when you go about it sensibly. To save the most money over the long haul, stick to the 8 tips above.


Action Item: Go through your cupboards and pantry and make a list of 1) all the foods you think you use the most and 2) those you think would be the best bet for buying in bulk. Now, the next time you’re out shopping take the list with you. It’s a good bet that if an item isn’t on the list, you won’t need to buy it in bulk.

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