Saving Money With Bulk Buying

by A Guest Writer · 7 comments

in Guest Posts

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?

Tisha Tolar is a writer for, where she provides information about credit card consolidation, debt relief and how to get out of debt.


1 the weakonomist June 12, 2009

I once argued that you should buy everything possible in bulk, but that required one to make too many assumptions about their housing situation. The items I buy in bulk are thing I use regularly. Instant coffee, deodorant, cereal, etc. I avoid buying anything I haven't used before in bulk and usually turn down anything that feels like an impulse purchase.

<abbr>the weakonomist´s last blog post..Hey You! Win A Free Copy of Biography of the Dollar!</abbr>

2 Kika June 12, 2009

I have a small chest freezer and try to stock it with edamame, frozen berries, bread/buns, locally grown beef and some grains which I buy in huge bags from an organic food coop. Often my freezer becomes rather bare (like now). Other items we use like salmon, frozen spinach, etc. I’ll buy several of at a time if they are at a great price. I also have been finding canned tomatoes/beans/pasta sauce/salmon at great prices and keep loading up. I won’t stock up on treats or junk food b/c it’ll end up being eaten way more often than if we had to buy it for a special occasion.

3 El Cheapo June 13, 2009

Amen to Costco and free sample weekends. It’s an adventure like Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom trying to maneuver a cart through the crowds. But yeah, we focus on tp, napkins, soap, detergents first and then sparingly get perishable things like fruits, meats, etc. when we know we’ll go through it without wasting it. Hard to plan for, but worth it.

El Cheapo´s last blog post..Hackintosh

4 Sherry June 13, 2009

My mantra is “eat what you store & store what you eat”. The term “use” could be used in place of “eat”. Although I belong to Costco & Sam’s (for the summer only, great deal, $15/3 month membership)…I use those stores for items such as bulk toilet paper & paper towels. I do love their prepared foods, meats & produce. However, for me, their pricing on some items is not that great (see below).

Here are my efforts:

1. 3 month “pantry” supply~Essentially 3 months of food which would sustain my family. It may be purchased in bulk i.e. a case of green beans or by the can based on sales, etc. I basically tracked our menus or came up with menus we would typically eat & created a “grocery list” to purchase over time. I rotate it & try to date the food as it goes in the pantry. This is my “buffer” in the event of emergency or temporary set back. Call it my money in the (food) bank.

2. I use coupons to purchase most of my “non perishable” items i.e. toothpaste, deoderant, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc. I live in the “land of doubles & triples” i.e. the local stores double & triple the face value of a couple, thus a 2.99 tube of toothpaste becomes anywhere from .30-.60 with a coupon. This has been the easiest & most cost effective way to “bulk up” those costly items.

3. I also store “dry” or canned items such as grains, rices, legumes, pastas, sugar, salt & wheat (which I use in my bread maker). If you knew me you would laugh as I am sooo far from being a “domestic engineer” i.e. breadmaking, but all I can say is thank goodness for automatic bread makers. We love warm whole wheat bread!!! I don’t make it very often but at least I can make it & we have it as a resource.

Over the years, I have received a lot of kick back from my husband for “buying in bulk” or “stockpiling”…..with gas rising to $3 & higher & my decreased trips to the store…he isn’t laughing anymore!!! The cost of food has risen substantially since the cost of gas has gone up…and I don’t think it’s going to get better any time soon.

I do agree that planning storage location can be challenging but being innovative & purging your home of un-needed “stuff” helps. Also a great inventory system (find what works for you) is most helpful.

5 Jarrod June 19, 2009

You definitely have to completely plan out every trip to a store like Costco or Sam’s Club. Of course, any good plan will allow for a small amount of money towards misc. items, but for the most part that should be kept to a minimum. After I get done making my sampling rounds, I hit up the essentials first and try to stay away from buying a large amount of any type of perishable food. Once, I bought $80 worth of meat, cut it all up into dinner and lunch portions, and my power went out later that week for two straight days…all that money/meat right down the drain.

6 Malyka June 19, 2009

Buying food from ethnic stores saves money as the quality of the food is good and you can buy in bulk at a low cost. Read my article and find more ideas on saving money in the kitchen.

7 LJ June 23, 2009

As far as the up-front expense of buying in bulk…if you start out buying the same dollar amount of food in bulk, you can start the bulking up without a huge up-front expense.

Example: your grocery store sells chicken breast for $5.00 per pound, and you buy two pounds per week. The bulk store sells 8 pounds for $10.00. Same expenditure, differing quantity.

I also will not buy a lot of bulk at the same time. I spread my bulk meat purchases over a two month span in order to minimize the impact on my biweekly food budget.
.-= LJ´s last blog ..Open Loops 6/23/2009: Articles I Think Worth Passing Along =-.

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