Buying in bulk might seem like the perfect solution to your never ending grocery battle. The premise is pretty straightforward, purchase your most-used items in incredibly large quantities, store and use as needed. Your family needs the toilet paper, so why not buy it in bulk? Money saved right?
You might be surprised.
What to Avoid Buying in Bulk
DFW Living on the Cheap wants to help you to save money, so while amassing a huge supply of your most used items might be appealing on the surface, there are certain items to avoid when buying in bulk.
1. Cooking oils
Vegetable oil, olive oil and other varieties of oils actually have a short shelf life. So unless you’re planning to fry a lot of fried chicken, buying a 5 lb. bottle of vegetable oil could mean half the bottle spoils before getting used. The better way to go would be to buy the manageable size bottles at the grocery store.
2. Nuts and seeds
Although they are great for you and that 48 oz. package really is a better deal than at the grocery store, nuts and seeds can’t sit on the shelf for very long. The catch is once they are opened, they need to be consumed within a few months. So plan ahead and avoid buying them in bulk if they are just ‘at a good price’ at the warehouse club.
Spaghetti is a go-to meal for many families. But depending on the brand of pasta you typically buy, buying it in bulk at the warehouse store can be incredibly more expensive than if you bought it at the grocery store. (Money saver tip: Check out the store brand of pasta. Usually equally as good!)
Buying this in bulk could be cheaper for you, but DFW Living on the Cheap is putting it in the avoid category for a couple reasons…
A. Freshness – According to CoffeeBrewGuides, coffee beans stay fresh for 2- 4 weeks after roasting. After that, they start to decline. Once the beans are ground, the clock ticks even faster. And since you shouldn’t store beans in the refrigerator, you have a 4 lb. container of coffee sitting on your counter that gets more stale by the day.
B. Brand – The brand you prefer makes a huge difference. Are you good with Folgers? Or are you more of a premium brand coffee lover? Premium brand coffee lovers will be better off buying coffee at the grocery store, smaller quantities are more economical and result in better tasting coffee.
5. Toilet paper
“But paper products don’t spoil, wouldn’t they be great candidates for buying in bulk?” Not if you want to save money… The giant packages of toilet paper may not be as economical as they seem. Check the price per piece to see how they compare to the grocery store. Plus, there are often store coupons that result in even bigger savings.
A giant container of garlic powder may in fact be cheaper to buy in bulk than in smaller containers, but the catch is that spices do deteriorate over time. So unless you’re going to go through the entire container within a year, stick to the smaller quantities.
This is an interesting one because the warehouse clubs really market this well. They package the ketchup, mustard and relish in an attractive package so it’s convenient to just grab and go… But don’t let the nice packaging fool you, that triple pack can be more expensive than if you just purchased them individually at your local store. Plus, those oversized bottles will likely go bad before you can use all of it. Unless you have some major parties coming up, buying them at the grocery store can save you more money.
Sandwich bread is a tough one – on the one hand, you can buy 2 loaves in a nice neat package. On the other, you still have 2 loaves to use. Initially, DFW Living on the Cheap was going to leave bread off this ‘avoid’ list, since it is possible to freeze the second loaf.
But when you defrost and use bread that’s been frozen, let’s face it, it’s just never as good as the fresh loaf. That’s why it’s on the avoid list.
Grocery stores give you the hook up when it comes to chips. The deals and specials they run on bags of chips beat out any warehouse club’s chip bags. Partner your chip purchase with a coupon at the grocery store and you will save big bucks.
The thing to watch with cereal is the size. How many bowls of Cheerios can you really eat before it goes stale? Grocery stores offer some major savings on boxes of cereal. Use something like a weekly ad finder app to keep an eye on prices from one place.
While you don’t have to worry about soda spoiling, watch the price per piece. At warehouse clubs, soda prices are around $10 for packs of 35 cans. At the grocery store, they will often run deals for three 12 packs for $10. You get one less can at the warehouse club, so you are better off sticking with your local grocery store.
12. Fruit snacks
After countless purchases of fruit snacks in bulk, this is definitely on the avoid list. A box of 40 fruit rolls or snacks seems like such a great bargain – but before you get convinced to buy this mega box, consider that a package of 66 fruit snacks is around $20 ($19.48 at the DFW Living on the Cheap’s local club). At the local grocery store, they’re around $10 for a package of 40.
Considering the cost of food to feed a family of four can range from $882 to $1,053 per month, a trip to the warehouse club to save money seems like the way to go. But before buying that giant pack of toilet paper, consider these things first:
Are there any coupons that might save you more money?
Is there an equally good generic brand at the grocery store?
Will you be able to consume all of the item before it spoils?
How are you going to store everything? Do you have the freezer space?
How much is the membership fee?
How far of a drive is the warehouse club for you?
And the biggest question:
Is the price per piece or unit to buy in bulk really less than if you purchased in smaller quantities?
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