Have you ever noticed how much you can save when buying in bulk? When you do it right, the price per unit savings are amazing. Do it wrong, however, and you waste a lot of money. What things should you buy in bulk?
Let’s start with the most important things you should NOT buy in bulk. That’s anything you aren’t prepared to deal with. If you can’t store it and/or use it in time, bulk buying it will be a waste of money. Okay? That’s just the beginning of what not to buy in bulk. There are a few more things you should consider before buying anything in bulk.
What To Consider Before Buying In Bulk
While you can save a lot of money buying in bulk, you can also waste a lot if you do it wrong. Start considering the financial angle before you buy a bunch of anything.
This includes if you can afford to buy in bulk, of course. If bulk buying is going to ruin your budget, it’s just not a good idea. It’s as simple as that.
You keep buying in bulk from ruining your budget by being sensible about it. Don’t buy everything you can in bulk right away. Spread your purchases out so they’re more affordable. And always, always watch for sales and other good deals.
You also need to consider how long your purchases will be good for. You don’t want to buy fruits and vegetables in bulk, for example, unless you’re ready to preserve them. Even then, you’re usually best off canning produce you’ve grown rather than bought unless you got a very good deal.
Other products expire too, of course. Make sure you know not only when the package says it expires, but when it really goes bad. A lot of expiration dates on packaging don’t mean all that much. Other times, they mean a lot.
Do you know where you’re going to keep all your bulk purchases? Storage is a huge problem when buying in bulk.
My husband likes to buy rice at Costco, for example. Those 50 pound bags aren’t exactly convenient to use or store. But we have a pretty good plan for using them. We break the rice up into smaller packages, some of which go into our earthquake kit. Doing it this way means the earthquake kit rice gets switched out regularly, keeping it fresh, and the huge bag of rice becomes manageable.
Make Buying In Bulk Make Sense
It’s easy to go overboard when buying in bulk. That huge package has to be a good deal, doesn’t it?
Bulk isn’t always the best deal, however. If you aren’t checking the price per unit in comparison with smaller purchases, you might not be getting the best deal. This is especially true if you consider weekly store deals and coupons. Sometimes smaller is better.
You can also keep from going overboard by planning your bulk buys with someone else. Find a friend or family member who would be willing to split larger purchases with you. This will allow you to get some deals that might otherwise be unreasonably large. Be sure to check in with them before you make a purchase so that you don’t find out after that they weren’t interested.
Bulk buying isn’t always about large packages, of course. Sometimes you bulk buy several normal size packages and put the extra in storage. I do this quite a bit when the dollar store by me has a great deal. Do your buying in bulk right and it will help you save on groceries.
What Goes Bad Easily?
Some things go bad in storage more easily than others. It’s just their nature. Here are some examples. I’m not going to list fruits and vegetables – you know those won’t last unless you work to preserve them!
Medications: It may seem like a good idea to keep a stash of medications, but make sure you know whether they’re safe if kept around for a while or not. Some merely decrease in effectiveness. Others become toxic. Read up on the particular medications you want to store so you know what happens to them over time.
Flour: Flour lasts for approximately a year in the pantry, less if it’s whole wheat. Whole wheat flour, in particular, may develop a rancid scent when it has gone bad.
Nuts: Nuts make a great snack, but they don’t last forever. If they have been stored too long, the oils in them will go rancid.
Spices: Lots of people have no idea if the spices they have in their cabinets are really all that good anymore. Spices lose their flavor over time. If the spice doesn’t smell as strong as it used to, it’s not as good as it was then either.
Soda: Soda may seem fairly shelf stable, but it’s awful if it manages to go bad. Besides, it’s not good for you. Keep your supply of soda limited. Besides, soda goes on sale pretty often. You don’t need to store that much of it.
Okay, okay, on to the things that you should consider buying in bulk.
What Should You Buy In Bulk?
The basic rule for things that you should buy in bulk is anything that’s a good deal, you can store, and it won’t go bad. Here are just a few things you can consider.
Toilet Paper: You know you’re going to use up however much toilet paper you buy eventually. It won’t go bad, but it can be a pain to store if you buy more than a few packages. I keep our excess under the laundry room sink.
Detergent: Whether for the laundry or the dishwasher, you can often get your best deals on detergent in larger packages.
Soap And Shampoo: Soaps and shampoos don’t tend to go bad. If you can get a good deal, go for it. Watch your price per unit, though. Sales and coupons can make smaller amounts a better deal fairly often. I like to buy large containers of liquid soap and pour it into smaller containers for use.
Dry Rice: I mentioned above how we buy the 50 pound bags of rice at Costco. Dry rice lasts indefinitely if properly stored. It’s well worth buying in bulk if you have large containers you can seal it into.
Dry Beans: If your family eats them, anyhow. I keep some around, but my kids don’t like them at all, so I don’t bulk buy these personally. They are in my earthquake kit because they can be stored indefinitely.
Dry Pasta: Pasta, on the other hand, my kids will eat. Dry pasta is easy to make but doesn’t go bad quickly so long as it’s dry.
Cereal: I love it when I spot a really good deal on a cereal my family enjoys. The box size is usually the same as normal, so you just have to buy more boxes when a good deal comes around. I’ve often seen boxes that are normally over $4 each drop to $1.25 each at times. It keeps well so long as the package is sealed.
Canned Food: Most canned food will still be good beyond the best by date printed on the can. You probably don’t want to buy canned food in extra large cans unless you have a need for that quantity all at once. It won’t stay good forever once that can has been opened.
Cooking Oil: With a caveat. Don’t buy more cooking oil than you can use before it goes rancid. Different types last anywhere from a few months to a couple years once opened.
Meat If You Have The Freezer Space: If you have the freezer space and can seal the meat up properly, you can get a much better deal on it in bulk. Some people even buy a whole, half, or quarter cow. It may cost more than prepackaged beef, but it’s usually a higher quality beef. For most of us, the warehouse store is just fine.
Pet Food: Most pet foods are dry or canned. They keep pretty well. Dry pet foods should be kept in a sealed container after opening, not only so that it stays fresh, but so that it doesn’t attract pests.
Printer Paper: My kids can go through a fair bit of printer paper for school projects at times. Some are turned in online, but there are times that they have to hand assignments in after printing them out. I also keep a small supply of printer cartridges on hand – the off brand ones are cheap and work just fine for our needs. Keep a supply of binder paper on hand if you have kids in school too. You never know when they’ll need more… aside from about an hour after the office supply store closes the night before the assignment is due.
Pens And Pencils: Kids in school go through a lot of pencils, and pens love to get lost. Put those together, and you could probably use to keep a supply of these on hand. Extra pencils are also nice if your kids’ teachers sometimes send supply requests home. Pencils are almost always on the list.
There are many other things you can buy in bulk. Many household supplies, office supplies, and personal care items can be bought in bulk. Some will expire; others won’t. Make sure that if the container is too large for convenience that you have a way to move the product into a container you can use. Think about toothbrushes, dental floss, pads or tampons, light bulbs, storage bags, and your preferred cleaning products for around the house.
Where Can You Buy In Bulk?
You can buy in bulk many places. Warehouse stores are a popular option for buying packages that are actually larger than normal. However, you can also buy in bulk at your normal stores. Just watch the sales and coupons. Normal size packages can be worth buying in bulk when the right deals come along.
If you have a good dollar store by you, they can be great for bulk buying as well. The one by me gets some amazing deals… you just have to catch them before the product runs out. That happens fast when the deal is really good. Sometimes it’s snack foods such as granola bars, but healthier items come in as great deals too.
Don’t forget to check online. Some products are cheaper on Amazon than they are locally. Prices vary over time, so you will need to look at the things you buy and compare prices for yourself. They sell some products in bulk sizes.
Take a look around in your area and figure out what places are your best options for you to buy in bulk. Much of your success with this will depend on what’s in your area.