Nothing is worse than shopping at the grocery store and leaving with a depleted bank account. Apples, bread, peanut butter and other food goods aren’t exactly exciting fare. In fact, there are probably countless other items you would rather spend your money on (ahem, travel).
Even though it may be painful to drop a few hundred dollars during a grocery store trip, the truth is that it’s actually good for your wallet…if you do it correctly. Instead of buying enough food for a week or two, try buying in bulk. If you’ve never bought in bulk before, here’s a simple guide for getting started. Trust me, your wallet will thank you.
Where to Buy in Bulk
Most cities have “warehouse” type stores where you can by all your items in bulk. The majority of warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club have a small membership fee (about $90 CAD per year). Don’t be deterred by the cost. The savings in the store can more than make up for your membership.
However, if memberships aren’t your cup of tea, don’t fret! You can still partake in bulk buying through regular grocery stores. Most stores, especially discount stores, offer “family packs” or bulk items for sale. Regardless of where you decide to shop for your bulk goods, it is crucial that you always check the price per unit. Even though it is typically cheaper to buy in bulk, that isn’t always the case.
In order to truly compare prices, you need to check the price per unit that is displayed on an item’s shelf label. Price per unit states how much an item costs per standardized measurement. For example, chips are measured in grams and salsa is measured in ounces. Check the label and buy accordingly.
This may seem counter intuitive to buying in bulk, but it’s important that you start small and work your way up. Buying in bulk requires that you spend a lot of money up front and then close to nothing later in the month. For people who are used to buying weekly or biweekly, this can come as a shock.
Be prepared to spend more than you’re used to spending. However, you can also ease your way into bulk buying. Instead of buying all your items in bulk, try buying three to five items. Another way to avoid the hefty price tag is to shop with family, friends and roommates. Nothing is worse than paying for an entire grocery shop on your own. Instead, share the love with the people you live with and split the goods. That’s what friends are for.
Tried and True
When it comes to buying in bulk, there is only one rule: never buy something you’ve never tried before. No matter how delicious an item looks or how badly you want it, do not buy it in bulk for the first time.
Nothing is worse than buying a new item in bulk, excitedly bringing it home and then hating it. Unlike clothes or shoes, food items are often difficult to return and as a result, bad decisions can add up. Next time you’re itching to try a new product, buy it in a normal sized container first. Once you know you like it, feel free to buy in bulk to your heart’s content.
Non-Perishables for the Win
I’ll never forget the time I bought a jumbo-sized bag of kale from Costco. I was so excited to add it to my smoothies and toss it with my salads, but then weird something happened. I brought the bag home and promptly forgot about it. Weeks passed and I finally remembered it existed. After digging around in my fridge, I pulled it out. The once green and bouncy leaves were now wilted and brown.
Learn from my mistakes and purchase perishables with caution. Most stores offer excellent deals on produce, but it’s important to only buy perishable items that you know you will eat before they expire. Non-perishables on the other hand, are a bulk buyer’s dream. Stock up on toilet paper and peanut butter to your heart’s content.