The Right Way to Buy in Bulk

grocery cartBuying your groceries in bulk can save you some serious money, not to mention extra trips to the store. If you aren’t careful, however, bulk purchases can actually wind up costing you more money that you will save.

Know the right way to buy in bulk, so you get the best of both worlds: great pricing and convenience.

1. Watch out for the hidden perishables. You probably know enough not to buy 20 pounds of bananas, unless you own a bakery that produces banana bread, but are you still buying items that will go bad before you can use them? Hidden perishables are those items that seem as though they will last forever, but will wind up going bad before they are used up. Some common examples include brown rice and nuts. Both contain oils that can go rancid in two to six months. Spices are another bad bulk choice, since after six months to a year, putting old, dried herbs on your food is like adding dirt. They won’t hurt you, but neither will they flavor your food. Only buy what you can use up while it is at its peak.

2. Compare the unit prices. Just because a package is extra large does not mean that it is the best value. Sometimes a smaller package is better, especially when you can apply a coupon to it. Look at the unit pricing so you can tell. No unit pricing available? Divide the cost of the item by the number of pieces or unit of weight in order to compare the cost. Bringing a calculator to the store with you is a good idea.

3. Think outside the grocery bin for bulk buying. For example, you can take advantage of bulk gift cards. At warehouse stores such as Costco and BJs, you can purchase a stack of gift cards for much less than the face value, about 30 percent less. Whether you use these gift cards for actual gifts or for your own shopping, you will save money.

4. Take advantage of online bulk purchasing opportunities. There are many more companies now that offer special bulk buying programs. One of the most popular program is’s subscribe and save. Through this program, you can save 15-30 percent off of your bulk purchases when you schedule regular delivery. Shipping is free, too.

5. Consider your storage space. Storage space for your bulk purchases can be an issue in many homes. If the only place to store food is in the garage, you may find that your items get ruined before you can use them. Before buying anything in bulk, you should figure out where and how it will be stored. Keep your bulk food away from dampness, heat and pests.

6. Get a bulk buddy. To take advantage of the savings on items that comes in packages too large for you to use, enlist a bulk buying buddy. Ideally this would be another person or family similar to yours. Buy the bulk package and then split the contents. This way, you can save money while eliminating the waste. If you take turns shopping, you’ll save time as well.