Skip to comments.What Should I Buy in Bulk? (Wholesale Shopping Club Tips)
Posted on 11/18/2010 5:15:35 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin
(An expert explains when bigger really is better and when it isn't.)
Buying a membership to a wholesale shopping club certainly can pay off but it doesnt always. Toss giant boxes of this or jumbo-size canisters of that in your cart without giving a second thought to price tags, and you probably wont save enough to cover the cost of your membership. If you want to save a bundle when you buy in bulk, you need to shop smart and we have the experts who can tell you how. Read on to learn where the real savings are.
What to buy in bulk
Vitamins: Unlike over-the-counter meds (see below) vitamins are easy to use up by their expiration date, assuming you take them daily. Dr. Philip Trigiani, a healthcare practitioner in New York City, suggests women buy bulk-size bottles of a multivitamin that includes calcium and iron.
Paper goods: Assuming you have the storage space, its worth it to stock up on toilet paper and paper towels, says Cathi Brese Doebler, author of "Ditch the Joneses, Discover Your Family: How to Thrive on Less Than Two Incomes!" However, if you dont have a garage or basement, 30 rolls of either are going to cause more headaches than theyre worth.
Pet food: Unlike people, pets dont get sick of their food, so you generally cant go wrong if you buy the biggest-possible bag of kibble, says Brese Doebler. Of course, youll need to take your pets size and appetite into consideration. By the time your teacup chihuahua gets through the first 10 pounds of a 30-pound bag, whats left will probably be stale.
Baked goods: Lots of wholesale clubs now have full-service bakeries, says consumer finance expert Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Freedom Debt Relief in Tempe, Ariz. And they dont only sell supersize boxes of pastries! Order in advance just as you would at a regular bakery and you can get a custom-decorated cake (even a wedding cake!) to feed a few people or a crowd.
Canned goods: If you have the storage space for 24 cans of soup or string beans, go ahead and buy them, says Brese Doebler. The key is to buy products youre familiar with. If you love a certain brand of soup but havent tried their clam chowder yet, hold off on buying two dozen cans until youre sure your family likes it.
Grains: Most families have a go-to grain, like brown rice, that they eat several times a week. Buy dried grains that youre apt to serve often in bulk for a savings of up to 30 percent, says Todd Kluger of the Bulk Is Green Council. Store bulk grains in heavy plastic or glass containers to keep pests out.
What to consider buying in bulk
Spices: Buy dried spices in bulk and youll spend up to 96 percent less than you would if you bought the tiny jars in the supermarket spice section, according to Kluger. Heres the catch: Dried spices have a shelf life of about a year; if you end up tossing a half-used jumbo-size canister of dried parsley, youre throwing away money.
Beauty products: Ounce for ounce, youll probably spend less on face lotion if you buy a multipack. But check the expiration date. Beauty products are less potent when theyre past their prime, which means ingredients that block sun, smooth wrinkles and so on will be less effective.
Meat and fresh produce: A box of 60 hamburgers or 16 pounds of bananas is great if you need them. If you dont, talk to a friend beforehand about splitting extra-large quantities, suggests consumer finance expert Jeanette Pavini. Cant find a friend to share with? Skip em. The bananas will go bad or your kids will stage a banana strike and the 50 extra burgers will eventually turn to hockey pucks in your freezer.
Frozen foods: The key to buying frozen foods in bulk is to repackage them, Pavani says. Divide frozen shrimp and such into serving-size bags so you dont have to keep opening and closing the big bag, letting air in. However, take your freezer into consideration before committing to bulk frozen foods. If yours is circa 1976, anything you store in it for more than a few weeks will probably have freezer burn.
What not to buy in bulk
Pet shampoo:...or annual plant fertilizer, or anything else you dont use very often. While you might find a great deal, youll tie up money that could probably be better used elsewhere, says Gallegos.
Junk food: If you buy a lot of junk, youre going to eat a lot of junk, says Heather Wheeler, cofounder of Krazy Coupon Lady and coauthor of "Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey." I dont care if the case of 24 candy bars is only 36 cents per bar instead of 50 cents each at the corner grocery store, she says. Purchasing chocolate in 5-pound increments is not a good idea for your bottom line or your waistline.
Anything with a limited shelf life: Peanut butter made with nonhydrogenated oil has a shelf life of under a year, says Wheeler. Unless you have three or four kids, buy natural peanut butter in regular-size jars. She also suggests buying mayonnaise in a small jar, which you should be able to use up before it turns rancid.
Over-the-counter medicine: A bottle with 1,000 ibuprofen tablets probably has a great per-pill price. But check the expiration date. Chances are, itll take you five or six years to go through them and theyll have expired well before then.
Diapers: If youre not careful, you could wind up with a few hundred diapers that are too small for Junior. Kids' growth spurts can mess up the best-laid plans, says Wheeler. The caveat is that some wholesale clubs will let you exchange sizes, so double-check your clubs policy.
New products: ... or new varieties of your favorites. Wheelers kids, for example, love Quaker Instant Oatmeal, so when she found a great deal on the new Quaker High-Fiber Instant Oatmeal, she bought in bulk ... only to find out that the extra fiber didnt agree with her childrens stomachs.
Breakfast cereal: Wholesale clubs often charge as much as $8 for a two-pack of dry cereal. I swear those are the biggest rip-off, says Wheeler. Shop sales and use coupons, and you can usually get a box of name-brand cereal for under a buck, she says.
FYI Ping, if you want to link it. :)
As for the cereal, none of the grocery stores carry Chocolate Cheerios so we have to buy it at the big box store.
A shopping list/rations list from the 1860s is very enlightening.
Oh, and yeast. Sams has 2 lbs for about the same price as 4 oz in the grocery store.
I use waltonfeed.com
For example, a small jar of molasses to make whole wheat bread is about $3 (ripoff). I bought a 59 lb. bucket of molasses for $40 and repackaged in gallon jars.
Buy a pallet at a time and save on shipping.
Hey!!! Nice Brass
Yum, chocolate cheerios and rum. :-)
Ammo..... Lots of ammo! Buy it until you have enough to make living room furniture out of the cases.
I have not purchased a bottle of wine (usually buy it by the case), at any place other than Costco or Sam's Club in probably over 10 years.
It's interesting that you mention "Rum". I'd buy booze there, but I've never seen it in the stores (except maybe the 40-proof stuff). Maybe it varies by state.
Ammo, incandescent lightbulbs, and TP. In that order. Ok, maybe some chocolate.
Ammo and TP.
I was joking about buying the spotted cow in bulk.
It is a non pasteurized farmhouse beer, so I don’t think it would have a great shelf life, but man is that good stuff.
If I lived up there I would always have that on hand.
That said, the article is a bit goofey.
How do you store baked goods in bulk?
If I dont use a fresh loaf in 4 days its going to go moldy.
Everyone neglects TP LoL
Here’s a tip I learned in Home-Ec class at L’Ecole de Rehabilitation Saint Jean Bosco:
Two-ply toilet paper is more comfortable, but also more expensive. So: buy SINGLE PLY toilet paper, but... Fold it in two before you use it!
Our class actually made the international finals of Genie en Herbe not long ago. Here’s the Youtube coverage.
You can freeze baked goods.
That sure takes a ton of space.
And what happens when the power goes out?
I keep a ton of canned goods and dried goods as well as spices.
You can always make these thing work with any fresh stuff you can scrounge.
Gas is the most important thing we buy at Costco. We about save the price of our membership right there.
On the other hand, we may just be spending what we saved on gas over in the wine department. If wine wasn’t so reasonable and tasty at Costco, maybe we would not serve it as often, and would save more money.
I recently stocked up on non-fat dry milk.
Thing is, tons of recipes call for some milk. Maybe a cup or so.
As far as using it to drink, I found that if you mix it up, and add maybe a tsp or a bit more of coffee creamer, it’s actually pretty good!
I don't know about Sam's Club but I would have to assume they have them also.
You could add canned evaporated for large batches
Since I drive a diesel pickup I cannot get "gas" at Costco. Bummer.
To be honest, I don’t buy baked goods in bulk, or at all; I make my own. You were just asking how baked goods bought in bulk could be kept. I’m acquainted with some fabulous bakers who make cakes, etc. and freeze them in case unexpected guests show up.
I do buy wheat flour and cornmeal in bulk and bake using that, but storage is very important. Bugs will get in them if you’re not careful. That’s true for buying animal feed in bulk, too.
I’d rather buy hamburger at Costco than at my local grocery chain. The grocers admit that what goes into their hamburger is any piece of leftover garbage. Costco’s meat is USDA inspected before it gets ground.
Other cuts of meat are much better quality and much cheaper than I could get at a grocery store, too. I do buy these and freeze them. Don’t worry much about the power going out, as around here that usually happens in winter, so I can just put frozen food out in the garage and it will stay nicely frozen.
Yeah them weevils will find any grain after a while.
“A shopping list/rations list from the 1860s is very enlightening.”
Got a link to one?
I buy yeast here:
Best performer I’ve found & best price, too. I bake. A lot. See my tag line. :)
I’m looking to buy certain items in bulk but have it delivered to my door-any suggestions?
Thanks for the tip! As long as you have fresh water and roughage, you can pretty much survive anything. :)
Got a few in the extra fridge as I type, LOL! Love, love, love the stuff! Mooooo!
“How do you store baked goods in bulk?”
I thought that was dumb, too! The ‘author’ has ample freezer space, I guess?
However, I love my ‘Day Old Bakery Rack’ and my ‘Magic Meat Counter’ at my local grocer. Amazingly, I always seem to be the only person shopping those parts of the store! There were New York Strip steaks in the cooler tonight for $12 for 4 of them (nicely trimmed, but with enough fat on them to make it worthwhile) and I found two pre-made pizza crusts for 50-cents each in the Day Old Bakery.
The pizza crusts are in my freezer as I type...I still have LAST seasons venison to use up, so no steaks for me right now. :)
I’m a ‘Single-Ply Gal’ all the way. :)
Beer, more nutritious than bread, and lower storage cost’s!
‘Tis a Thing of Beauty! :)
Frozen dough makes sense, but not frozen baked goods.
Those are great deals you got on the steaks and pizza crusts.
Make a venison bourguignon, with them last bits.
I use reconstituted dry milk in cooking/baking. No noticeable difference, IMHO.
WTSHTF, I’m going to be hard-pressed to give up my yummy flavored liquid coffee creamers. But somehow I think I’ll adapt to my ‘New Reality’ pretty darn quick, LOL!
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