Buying groceries in bulk can be a great way to save grocery dollars. However, when you buy groceries in bulk, you don’t want to be spending more as a result of buying in bulk than you save in the direct cost by buying in bulk. That sounds contradictory, but it’s really straightforward.
Do always check the unit price. Usually the bulk unit price is cheaper, but sometimes you’ll find that it isn’t cheaper at all. If the unit price isn’t cheaper, you’re not going to save any money by buying bulk.
Do look at weekly sales before buying in bulk. A good sale on a non-bulk version is often cheaper than the bulk version.
Do go to a cost club as a guest before you commit to joining. Then compare the cost of membership with the amount you’re likely to save. Then compare with typical costs at your neighbourhood budget grocery store. Bring your last month’s worth of menus and shopping lists with you, so you can compare the kinds of things you actually buy. That’s the only way you’ll know for sure if a cost club membership’s worth it for you.
Do take a calculator and scratch pad with you! If you’re out to save money by buying bulk, modern grocery shopping needs a lot of math to be done on the fly. It’s not easy to do it all in your head!
Don’t commit to buying bulk all the time. If you’re looking to get the very best deals for you, it’s a good idea to stay flexible.
Don’t buy in bulk if you’re an impulse shopper. However, impulse buying isn’t really a cost-effective way to shop for groceries in the first place. If you’re going to save money, you’ll have to cut back on the impulse buys.
Don’t buy so many bulk groceries that they don’t all fit on your shelves! Houses usually have enough space for average bulk purchases, but storing bulk toilet paper in tiny apartments takes a lot of planning!
Don’t buy more perishable food than your family’s going to be able to eat before it goes bad. If you’re throwing half of it out, the real cost of that bulk food is twice as high as you thought.
There are other ways things can go bad as well. Products can expire before you use them, and batteries run down. Don’t buy huge amounts of grains and dry goods if you don’t have a cold storage to store them. Just about every package of grains includes a few insect eggs, no matter how well it’s packaged. If you keep that package in normal house temperatures for longer than a week, you’ll have worms and moths hatching right inside the package, so where’s the money you thought you saved?
Don’t buy spices in bulk unless you know you’re going to use a lot of them. Spices lose a lot of their potency after the container is opened.
Finally, don’t buy bulk foods on credit if you’re carrying a credit card balance! There’s no way you’ll save more money on the groceries than you’ll spend on interest. You’ll be much better off buying most things week-to-week (on sale, of course!) and devoting every spare penny to paying down your credit card balance.
Buying bulk can be a good thing, if you’re careful. Just keep in mind that a larger package doesn’t always mean it’s cheaper when you break it down. When it’s done wrong, bulk groceries aren’t cheaper just because they’re bulk, and they can be a lot more expensive when you work it out. But when it’s done right, buying groceries in bulk can be a great way to stretch your grocery budget.