According to the USDA, the current cost of feeding a family of four at home is between $630-1,240 per month! That’s a considerable sum any way you slice it, so it’s no wonder that people are constantly looking for ways to make the most of their food and grocery budget.
One way people attempt to save money on their groceries and household items is by getting them at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. I regularly make use of my own Costco membership, even though the closest one is a good 30-minute drive away, because there are couple dozen items that make it worthwhile a worthwhile investment of time and money.
That’s really the key to success when it comes to things you buy in bulk: knowing what makes sense for you to stock up on and what doesn’t. And in today’s post, I’ll be sharing lists of both the best and worst things to buy in bulk if you’re looking to save money!
(I should note that not everyone’s budget, shopping list, or home situation is the same, so it’s very possible you may not agree entirely with which items I’ve listed where! But as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, so feel free to share them in a comment at the end of this post!)
13 Things You Should Buy In Bulk
1. Toilet Paper
Buying toilet paper in bulk can save you up to 50 percent of the cost of buying a few rolls at a time. The one challenging thing about buying that much toilet paper at once is finding a place to store it all, but it’s worth the effort in my opinion! (The space under a bed is always an option!) 🙂
2. Pet Food
Whether your pet has special food needs or is just particular about what they’ll eat, you probably feed your pet the same food every day. So if your local Costco or Sam’s Club carries that type of food, buying it there is a no-brainer!
You’ll be saving money, and it’ll be a good long while before you have to think about restocking your furry friend’s food supply.
Warehouse stores typically offer good quality meat at a significant savings versus traditional grocery stores. But before you bring home a dozen pounds of ground beef, make sure you have the space for all that meat in your freezer (or better yet, a separate chest freezer!)
Another thing that’s important when buying meat in bulk is sealing it properly before freezing it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—using a vacuum sealer is by far the best way to prevent freezer burn and preserve freshness over time!
4. Storage Products
When you buy food in bulk, you’ll need stuff to store it in! That’s why I recommend adding items like tin foil, freezer bags, and food storage containers to your warehouse shopping list.
If you take the same multivitamin every day, you might as well buy it in bulk for a better price! However, that bottle of 500 vitamins is only a good value if you actually take them all, so be sure to note the expiration date before you commit to taking it home.
It depends on who you ask, but most baby sites estimate the average cost of a year’s worth of diapers to be somewhere between $800-1,100! Cutting that down by buying diapers in bulk can save you a good amount of money!
Make sure to consider the timing of your bulk diaper purchases, because you don’t want to stock up on diapers that your baby is nearly too big to wear. So wait until they’ve graduated to a new size, then buy as many diapers in that size as your car can hold! 😉
7. Cooking Oil
Certain cooking oils, especially something like good quality olive oil, don’t come cheap at the grocery store. Getting a large container at a warehouse store is guaranteed to be a better bargain!
Of course, as with anything else, use common sense when decided whether or not to buy cooking oils in bulk. If you rarely cook with oil (or rarely cook at all), you may not use it up before it’s set to expire, and you may end up losing money in the long run.
8. Canned Goods, Etc.
Canned goods with distant expiration dates are always a smart bulk buy. Canned tuna, soups, and other canned goods can be around 30 percent cheaper at warehouse stores than at standard grocery stores. (But again, you should only buy canned goods you’re certain you’ll actually use!)
Disposable household supplies like batteries and light bulbs make excellent bulk buys. As long as you have somewhere to store them, you’ll get around to using them eventually! (And personally, I just enjoy the satisfaction of knowing I have a new lightbulb ready to go when I notice that a bulb in one my fixtures has burned out!)
10. Oral Hygiene Products
Dentists recommend that you replace your toothbrush every three months, but the average American waits nine months to make the switch. So buying toothbrushes in bulk (or replacement brush heads for your electric toothbrush) is not only a smart way to save money, but it can encourage better oral hygiene practices too.
11. Cleaning Products
Your favorite cleaning products, or the ingredients you use to make your favorite homemade cleaning solutions, are smart bulk buys too. Personally, I use cleaning ingredients like baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and white vinegar all the time, so I always make sure to stock up on them when I’m at Costco!
Cleaning is something you do on a regular basis and it keeps your home clean and healthy. So there’s no reason not to stock up on all the supplies you use regularly, and save some money while you’re at it!
12. Dried Beans And Pasta
Dried beans and pasta are great pantry staples because they last a long time and take up relatively little space. Dry pasta will stay good for up to two years in a sealed container, while dried beans will last about a year.
13. Soap And Shampoo
When it comes to hygiene products like soap and shampoo, some people are loyalists and others like to try new products regularly. So soap and shampoos can be a good bulk buy, IF you’re buying products you either already use regularly, or won’t mind committing yourself to using for the foreseeable future. (Same goes for things like razors and deodorant too!)
Now to shift gears, let’s take a look at some things that you can leave off your shopping list the next time you visit your warehouse store of choice!
7 Things You Should NOT Buy In Bulk
1. Chips And Soda
Chips and soda are big promotional items for supermarkets and grocery stores, especially around major events like sports playoffs or championships, national holidays, and even the changing of the seasons. Major manufacturers help retailers deeply discount these products on a rotating basis, so it’s not hard to get a great deal on them at your local grocery store.
You’re almost always going to better off buying smaller amounts of produce items at the grocery store rather than buying them in bulk, unless it’s something you use a lot of regularly. (One example that comes to mind is smoothies—if you make a smoothie every morning without fail, then it could make sense to buy your greens or bananas in bulk.)
There are plenty of opportunities to save on produce at the grocery store too, because there’s always at least one in-season item you can get at a great price.
3. Candy, Snacks, Etc.
Although you can save money by buying candy, snacks, and other forms of junk food in bulk, it’s not be the wisest decision for your health. Personally, if I have a big stash of my favorite snacks somewhere, I end up burning through it all much too quickly and then I just feel terrible (both physically and emotionally!)
Unless you have rock solid self control when it comes to candy and snacks, saving a few dollars in the long run just isn’t worth the temptation.
4. Frozen Foods
Although frozen food will last a good long while, it’s not always smart to buy it in bulk. One common issue people encounter when buying frozen food in bulk is that it ends up taking over much of their available freezer space.
Another potential issue is whether or not you’ll be able to use it up before its expiration date. When in doubt, stick to buying canned foods in bulk, rather than frozen ones.
Nuts can be quite a bit more affordable to buy in bulk. But unfortunately, the high fat content in nuts (especially in peanuts, pecans, and walnuts) can cause them to go rancid a lot quicker than you’d think.
Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and other condiments usually only keep for six months to a year. So unless there are a lot of hungry eaters in your house who apply their condiments in liberal amounts, you may not end up using them up in time!
The only spices you should buy in bulk are your everyday go-tos, the ones you use ALL THE TIME. Spices start losing their potency and flavor in six months to a year from when you open them, so stick to regular grocery store amounts for most spices and seasonings.
What sorts of things do you like to buy in bulk?