Many people have known for a long time that when you buy in bulk, you typically save money over buying smaller quantities of the same item. During a time when just about everyone is looking for ways to save money, pay off existing debt and avoid getting into additional debt, you might be interested in buying things in bulk – but it’s not quite as easy as it sounds. You can’t just run to the store and pick up the biggest package of everything you buy and expect to save money!
There are a number of considerations for purchasing items in larger quantities before you take the plunge – such as where will you put it once you buy it? What products should you buy in bulk instead of smaller quantities in order to save the most money?
Where Will You Put Your Bulk Purchases?
Ideally, you’ll have a pantry available for storing your bulk purchases. Pantries are essentially closets located close to the kitchen, with shelving and ample storage space for your non-perishable goods. For most items, you can store them on the shelves in the packaging they come in (canned goods, boxed dry goods, etc). For some products, though, you’ll need to re-package them into air tight containers and storage bins to ensure they last until you’ve used them.
It’s important to keep easy access to the items you’ll use on a daily basis – like coffee, tea, sugar, and spices for example. If you buy these items in bulk, you’ll also want to store some in your kitchen for your daily use (and you can simply restock your smaller containers as they run out from your “bulk” storage area).
For meats and other items that have to be kept frozen, you’ll need to decide whether they can be frozen in the packaging they come in, or if you need to repackage to freeze. If you buy large, family packages of meat that you won’t cook all at once, it makes sense to repackage it into smaller servings that you can just pull the amount you need from the freezer. Freezer paper, freezer bags and re-useable freezer safe plastic containers are necessary for dividing bulk foods and freezing. Some people require an extra freezer to keep all of their bulk purchases frozen – but you’ll need to weigh the costs of buying the extra freezer as well as the extra electricity cost of operating it against the savings you might obtain from buying large quantities of goods to freeze before taking this step.
What Will You Buy in Bulk?
Since the primary goal of buying in bulk is to save money rather than to have a lot of food on hand at all times – you’ll need to consider what products you will buy in bulk instead of small quantities. What you buy will vary from one family to another based on the types of foods you eat and how frequently you use your items, but most people will benefit from buying the following items in bulk:
Frequently Eaten Foods
Think about the items you seem to purchase every time you go grocery shopping. Chicken, ground beef, pastas, canned goods? Macaroni and Cheese, canned tuna, ketchup? Whatever products you consume regularly should be considered in your bulk buying. Products you use to create recipes and family meals, like oils, seasonings, flour, sugar, marinades or vinegars can also be purchased in bulk. If it can be frozen or preserved in the pantry, and it can be purchased in bulk at a discounted price – it’s a good item to include in your bulk buying shopping list.
In addition to the foods your family frequently eats, you can benefit from buying non-edible consumables in bulk as well. These are things like soaps, detergents, personal care items, toilet paper, paper towels, and batteries.
Once you’ve decided what sort of products your family uses regularly, start considering the price-per-item how you usually buy it – and compare it to the price-per-item you can get if you shop at a bulk buying store. Don’t forget to take coupons into consideration if accepted where you shop.
In addition to the discounted price-per-item received when buying in bulk – having a well stocked pantry means you are prepared for those little unexpected situations that come up from time to time! Unexpected guests or your child has a study group and needs snacks? You won’t have to run to the store to pick up items if you have a well stocked pantry and freezer – saving you both time and unnecessary commuting expenses. Buying more at once means less trips to the grocery store in general, which helps you save money since you are far more likely to buy little extras if you are in the store more frequently.
For individuals who are working to get out of debt – the upfront expense of bulk buying can be difficult to justify (since it eats up money you could be using to pay down your debt); but the long term savings actually frees up more money which can then be used to pay down debts (or save for a family vacation, or to repair the car…)
Do you buy in bulk? What’s your reason- to save money, stockpile food or being prepared for emergencies? How do you do it?