Bulk buying can be an effective way to save money on household staples. As with most apparent bargains though, you should stay alert to ensure you are actually saving money, not wasting it.
Certainly a sack of dog food works out cheaper per portion than a small packet, but if you don’t have a dog you are not, in fact, getting a bargain. A less silly example would be buying milk by the gallon when you only drink a glass of the stuff a day. The milk will have spoilt long before you have time to drink it all.
Don’t buy what you don’t need
Buy in bulk only those things you use on a regular basis such as salt, sugar, detergent, shampoo and the like. Items that you only use very rarely, for example a herb that you cook with once a year, should be bought in small amounts as you need them. There is no point spending money on something that will do no more than take up space.
Also, although most dried foods last a long time, they will go off eventually, and the same goes for many cleaning products. If it will take you ten years to use up a large container of something then opt for the smaller size.
Be careful bulk buying perishables
If you family eats a lot of cheese for example it can be worth buying it by the kilo. However with all foods that will last no longer than a week, realistically assess whether it will actually be eaten up in time. If not then you are simply sending money to the dump, not making any savings.
Calculate unit price
Don’t assume that the bigger packet is actually cheaper that the smaller. This is usually the case but not always, especially when the smaller is on special offer. Divide the price by volume, weight, or unit (depending on the product) to make a comparison. If mental arithmetic is not your forte then by all means take a small calculator with you when shopping.
Only buy what you can store
There is not much to be gained from buy sackloads of food that you have nowhere to put. You are dooming yourself to tripping over the stuff for the next six months and having a home where you can’t move for cans. Fill your pantry or cupboards but not your living space.
Get together with others
One way to get the savings from bulk purchases without some of the drawbacks is to join forces with friends and neighbours. Buy in bulk and divide up later. Just ensure you have suitable containers if you need to split packets, cartons or sacks. Your share of laundry detergent in a plastic carrier bag is going to spill everywhere, so have a stash of airtight boxes to store stuff in.
Don’t bulk buy treats
At least not if you find it difficult to resist temptation. You won’t actually be saving any money buying multipacks of snacks if you then eat them all in the next two days. It won’t do your health much good either. This applies especially to things like sodas, crisps (chips), chocolate bars, wine and salted nuts.
Bulk buying is certainly one way to cut grocery costs. If you don’t get carried away then it is possible to save a significant amount.