Bulk It Up

Whether it’s just you or you have a family of ten, buying in bulk is a great way to save money. Wholesalers such as Costco and Sam’s Club offer great deals on everyday items and not so everyday items that, when compared to retail prices, add up to huge savings.

If you’re not already privy to the wholesale store, here are some tips for what is reasonable to buy in bulk and what could potentially be wasteful. Anything that doesn’t require to be kept cold or frozen (i.e. non-perishables) is an acceptable expenditure. If, for example, you buy a case of 24 cans of chicken noodle soup; (a) it’s canned so it’s not going to expire anytime soon, and (b) because you have so many cans you don’t have to buy it again for a long time. Same applies for pretty well anything canned. Other smart buys are toilet paper and paper towels. Not everyone agrees with the paper towels one, but for us that use them, it’s a must-have staple. (In my house, it’s an issue of sanitation versus doing a million loads of hand towels in the laundry). At any rate, the point is, if you or your family use a lot of something, consider buying it in bulk.

Purchases to skip include most anything with an expiration date. Examples may be milk, eggs, fresh produce, deli meats, cheeses, so on and so forth; you get the idea. After all, how are you really going to consume say twenty oranges before half of them rot? On the other hand, some perishables you may still want to stock up on. Someone with a lot of kids may want to buy cereal in bulk, for example. Cereal does get stale or just flat out go bad; but in a house where boxes are being consumed one a day, bulk cereal purchases make sense. Again, if it’s something you use a lot of, why not purchase it in bulk to save money.

A word on meats… Vegetarians, feel free to skip to the next paragraph; this one’s for the carnivores. If you’re the type of person or family that enjoys at least one meat/protein with dinner, then buying meat in bulk makes sense too. I only caution that going nuts on buying out the butcher could result in wasted food. Contrary to popular belief, meat can’t stay in the freezer forever. Stocking up and being able to feed the neighborhood are too different things. And even if your meats aren’t susceptible to freezer burn, items in your freezer still age nonetheless. General rule of freezer use: if you’re not going to use the frozen item within one month then don’t bother saving it. Using that rule, no one should have more than thirty selections of meat/protein in their freezer at any one time.

Speaking of the freezer, anything you know you’re not going to use up right now but you might within a couple weeks or so, don’t be afraid to buy it in bulk too. One of the smartest money saving tips is learning how to plan and portion home cooked meals. Get a week’s worth of food, cook it, divide it up, and not have to cook for the rest of the week. And along those lines, get in the practice of packing work lunches versus eating out.

Not sure where to begin? Start by brainstorming what items or food you and/or your family use the most. Then, determine if that item is perishable or non-perishable. If it’s perishable, be sure you’re able to use it up before it goes bad.

In the end, what matters is that you’re getting the full benefit of your local wholesale club. Buying in bulk is no secret; you just have to get in the habit of using it more where applicable. Add in a fistful of coupons, and you are now one smart shopper.

Image Credit: Costco