Fear not. Buying in bulk is not just for that family of five loading up their Dodge Grand Caravan with $1000 in Costco purchases. It’s possible to buy your basics and get a bulk discount if you are savvy about your food spending.
Even though it may be painful to drop a few hundred dollars during a grocery store trip, the truth is that it’s 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 shopped 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 get all your items in bulk. Most warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club have a small membership fee (about $90 per year). Don’t be deterred by the cost. The savings in the store can more than makeup for your membership.
However, if memberships aren’t your cup of tea, don’t fret! You can still partake in your bulk buying extravaganza at just about any regular grocery store. Most stores, especially discount stores, offer “family packs” or bulk items for sale. Regardless of where you decide to shop for your bulk goods, you must always check the price per unit. Even though it is typically cheaper to buy in bulk, that isn’t always the case.
To truly compare prices, you need to check the price per unit 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.
Shopping this way seem counter-intuitive to buying in bulk, but you must start small and work your way up. Buying in bulk requires that you spend a lot of money upfront 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 things. 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, right?
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 regular-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 something weird 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. Both my aspirations and my kale had shaken off their mortal coils. It was very tragic.
Learn from my mistakes and purchase perishables with caution. Most stores offer excellent deals on produce, but it’s important only to 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.
What do you think of buying in bulk? Any tips or tricks?
One of the best hacks is simply to Google your chosen subject. Resources like SavingAdvice.com are also great for tips, tricks, and other ideas on how to stretch your budget just a little bit further.
Photo by Jasper Garratt on Unsplash