While there are a few things I could actually buy in bulk like toilet paper and energy bars...our family eats a ridiculous amount of energy bars, most of the food in our home gets used too slowly for me to justify stocking up with large quantity purchases. Since there are just four of us in living in our home, I do not personally shop in bulk. Buying in large quanties can save you money when it makes sense to do so, like buying frequently used non-parishable items or stocking up for an upcoming party. If your not careful however, you can actually end up spending more on groceries each month rather than less. The key to reaping the benefits of bulk shopping is to shop selectively and resist going overboard. Here are some things to consider when shopping at bulk food stores:
Bulk food stores encourage you to buy everything big. When you buy perishable products in bulk, you risk having it expire before it gets consumed. I have thrown out loads of expired food over the years while organizing client’s pantries. Stick to buying products that your family goes through quickly, and to non perishable basics like paper towels and toilet paper. Also, bulk food stores do not carry small packages of products, so if you happen to be out of something that you use only occasionally say, sesame oil, you'll be forced to buy a giant sized bottle and spend more money on it than you would have at a regular store. Furthermore, that sesame oil is more likely to expire before you can get it all used.
PACKAGE SIZE CONFUSION
Since sizes and quantities of products purchased in bulk are so different from regular sized items, it is difficult to compare apples to apples when it comes to prices. We can be tricked into thinking that we are saving more money on bulk items than we really are, so be sure to do your math before you make the purchase. Once you add on the membership fee you have to pay just to shop, your savings may be less than you think.
One primary way that stores cash in on our shopping habits is that we are naturally tempted to buy more of a given item just to get it at the lower price. Everybody wants a bargain, but it’s not a bargain if you didn’t need it in the first place. Resist going overboard by carefully considering each item and whether or not you really need that much of a given product before you put it in your cart.
The more stuff you have in your home, the harder it is to keep it all organized. The same theory applies to your pantry. Believe it or not, it is much easier to stay on top buying what you need if you don’t stock up. Once you have multiples of everything at home, it becomes difficult to monitor what products you are actually running low on. To keep your pantry under control, only replace the items that you are almost out of, and always use a grocery list. If you shop without a list, and just grab everything that you see because you’re not sure whether or not you might be running low at home, you are headed straight for inventory chaos and you’re sure to waste some money along the way.
LIMITED STORAGE SPACE
Though this one does not actually cost you money, it does cost you space and is perhaps the biggest negative to buying in bulk. Stocking up with large sized products takes up lots of precious storage space in your pantry. If you don’t have a lot of space, don’t allow a 6 pack of giant sized ketchup bottles to steal it, unless of course…you happen to run a burger joint out of your home. If your pantry is so full that it starts to spill over into a second location like your basement, you are likely to forget about what you have down there. Instead, store all of your food in one place and stop buying when your pantry is full. Larger non-perishables can be space hogs too, like paper towels, don't buy a pack of 48 rolls unless you have plenty of space to store them in for 6 months. Before you decide to put something in your cart, consider whether or not you have space for it at home. It is frustrating to get home and not know where to put the things that you purchased.
As American consumers, we are constantly being coaxed into buying more and buying bigger, because it means more money for the seller, but we don't have to be mindlessly wheedled into submission. We can't even order a burger at a drive thru without hearing, "Do you want to super size that?" By shopping mindfully and resisting the urgings to go overboard on sizes, you can save considerable amount of money. As a bonus, you'll also keep your pantry inventory organized and under control.
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free, Professional Organizing Services
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.