With the crazy times we are living through, it makes sense to stock up on household items. Before you start bulk shopping, you need to think about a few things first.
Is shopping in bulk for me?
Did you run out of toilet paper in the great covid induced craze of 2020? If you looked on the supermarket shelves during the beginning of the pandemic, you saw more than missing toilet paper. Rice, flour, beans, all dry goods, sugar, soap, canned soup, a lot of the shelves were shopped hard.
Hoarding is not good but being prepared is good.
If you do not shop right, bulk shopping can cost you more and lead to more waste. Keep that phone calculator out, and think about the product you are going to buy.
How much is enough?
Start out small. Get two weeks ahead, then aim for a month with some products. If you have a big family, you will use way more than a single person living alone. Start by looking at how much you use now. Remember you do not want to store the products forever, rather circulate them, use them up and keep fresh reserves. Unless you buy specialty freeze-dried foods made for long-term storage, all food spoils.
Types of products start bulk shopping.
Non-Perishable items are the safest area to start bulk shopping. You will not have to worry about use-by dates or circulating products. Think of all bathroom products.
Shampoo and conditioner
Except for the toilet paper, you can store 6 months of bathroom products easily.
Think of all cleaning products you could bulk buy
With cleaning products, you can have the choice to buy concentrate that you mix as needed. This can be a big space saver and good for keeping down your family’s trash. Why store water when you can add it to a product before use.
Remember to whip out the calculator and check the bulk price for the big tubs. Use the same per part to compare.
The next safest food to bulk-buy is canned goods. Flour, sugar, breadcrumbs, and such can go stale and are prone to rodent and bug attacks. Canned goods store well.
Check out this food keeper search engine of common pantry items and how long they last.
For a novice bulk shopper, I would avoid loading up the freezer. It is a hard space to keep organized compared to a pantry, without proper labeling, all the food looks the same. The worst part about a full freezer is if the power goes out you have to eat it or lose it!
Food does not last as long in the freezer as you think. Meats get freezer burn and are totally unappetizing. Vacuum bagging goes a long way to stop freezer burning.
Check out this frozen food guide here.
Bulk storage options.
There are many storage options that can help you store bulk items. You need to protect your investment and store your products under the right conditions. Storing food incorrectly will cause it to spoil or get eaten and invaded by pests like weevils and mice. Dry foods should be stored in serving sizes, so you are not opening and resealing the container all the time. I think of rice, flour, and sugar as an exception, but more pasta, crackers, dried fruit, and nuts.
Circulating food with a used by date means that you should be using your oldest items first, with the new items going to the back. If you do not have easy access to your storage, it is easy to get products mixed up.
These soup can storage towers make it easy. New cans go in the top and older cans pop out the bottom. One tip for using the can holders is to get one for each type of canned food, don’t mix them in one tower.
Brand-name Vs no-name.
One big thing to consider before you buy a ton of something is, “do you like it!” Seems self-evident, but unless you have tried it first how do you know. The smell of soap, the taste of a soup, the quality of a paper towel, you need to try before you buy. It is no use having a bulk item if you keep skipping it because you don’t really like it.
The savings you get by going no-name vs brand name can be big. When going no-name, you have to consider quality. All of your savings can be wiped out if you have to use more of the product to get the job done. This is the case with paper towels. Have you ever bought Sparkle and needed 3 sheets to do the job when Brawny takes one? Soap can also be this way, weaker, so you have to use more.
Therefore, the biggest tip for bulk shopping is to know your product first! Try before you buy, buy in bulk that is!
Supermarket Vs online.
With online coupons and sales, the supermarket is trying to get and keep your business. At the supermarket, you can buy just one can, or just one soap bar, and know if you like it first. Then you can do some simple calculating to see if you get a better deal online or at the store.
It is best to calculate the price per item. And, if you have to add shipping, add it before you divide for a unit cost comparison. Nowadays free shipping is a common option but it can make or break the deal.
Coupons are your best bet at the supermarket. Have you been in line behind a bulk shopper with a great coupon and been amazed at their savings? That could be you, especially if they do not put a limit on how many of an item you can buy at once!
Overall best tips for Bulk Shopping
Don’t break the bank. Add items for stocking up each week.
Know your products. Don’t buy tons of something before you try it.
Use your calculator. Know if it is a good price or not.
Don’t end up throwing your food away. Use smart storage options. Lable foods in the freezer. Know the storage life of your food.
Be prepared, but not a hoarder! Happy shopping!