It's Monday, and it's time for another Money Saving Monday! This weeks topic up for dissection- BULK BUYING!
Bulk buying seems to me, to be something that everyone does. With or without a membership to a special store, there are bulk buying questions we face in our regular grocery stores. I love buying in bulk, because I don't like grocery shopping, but in all the years I have been doing our shopping, I have learned some strategies.
My number one strategy for buying bulk is that you can never have enough toilet paper. Yes I said that, yes I went there. I buy multiple large packs at once. I don't care about the room it takes up. I want to hoard TP, and I do. Here's the thing, I rotate between a few different grocery stores. I go to a large warehouse type of grocery store, and I try to only go once a month. This is where I buy the bulk of my groceries- anything non perishable, bulk bins, pantry staples- for the whole month (which is why I meal plan for a month at a time). Then I go to a grocery store that is closer to my house and more deluxe- IE: it has a health food section where I can buy all my lactose free needs (and that stuff is not budget friendly), this store also has better produce, so I get that there as well. In between, I hit the discount grocers, and sometimes shop coupons. But the point here is that toilet paper is much less expensive at the warehouse style grocery store, so I always get it there- and stock up, because I won't be back for a month. I also check the prices on the smaller packs, because sometimes they are less expensive (they were last time I bought). The point is not to tell you about my TP, but that I have a strategy about buying bulk, a reason to do it, and it works for me. What works for me is not what will work for everyone, but everyone should have a strategy.
Here I am going to share with you some more of my strategies, and some great resources for bulk buying. Then next week we'll have another Money Saving Monday, where I'll share a really great interview I did with a budget savvy mom who has an engineers brain, and happens to be a bulk buying genius.
Bulk buying can save you money. Things bought in large packages often have a less expensive price per unit than smaller, or individual packages. Bulk buying is also good for the environment because in many cases it cuts down on the packaging materials (which also saves you money). But you have to keep in mind that it only saves you money if you can use all of the item before it expires. Thats why non perishable items such as paper goods, toiletries (shampoo, conditioner and tooth paste), and canned goods are a good idea. However, you have got to keep in mind the space needed to store such items. Vitamins are also a good choice as they are much less expensive in bulk, but never buy a new supplement in bulk before trying it, otherwise it would be a large waste if you should decide you don't like it. Frozen meat is something a lot of people buy, because it saves you money, and time. But frozen meat still has a shelf life, so you have to keep that in mind as well and label things clearly.
On the other hand, some items are not bulk buying friendly. you may be able to buy ten pounds of bananas for a steal, but if you aren't able to get though them in time, you will be putting your money in the trash (or compost- this is Portland after all). Same goes for baked goods. I still buy these things in bulk occasionally, and this is how- onions, because they will keep for a long time are good in bulk, lemons and limes, long shelf life, and versatile uses in the kitchen and home, for baked goods sometimes I will buy the muffins, or rolls, but that means that we are committing to eating them, in a major way until they are gone. Spices are another tricky one, it is tempting to buy these in large bulk amounts- but spices have a shelf life of about a year, so again, if you can't get through it, don't buy it. Instead, find and buy spices in small bulk amounts, from bins.
Places to buy bulk:
Costco- surprisingly enough, the warehouse store I was talking about earlier is NOT Costco. We do have a Costco card, and shop and love their deals, but I do not go every month. A few times a year is more likely. Costco has good deals on great products, and I highly recommend watching the documentary "The Costco Craze" to help improve your Costco strategy. I believe it's on Netflix, but I cannot confirm that because I am the only person in the US that doesn't have Netflix.
Bulk Bins at grocery stores- Here is an article full of tips and strategies for the bins.
Zaycon Foods- "How smart families buy big and save". Zaycon foods takes the middle man out of buying meat. You buy meat frozen, in a case, out of the back of a truck at a non grocery store location (think church parking lot). In a nutshell, they sell just a couple products at a time, so if you only want chicken breasts you may have to wait a month or two to get it, and you buy in LARGE amounts (chicken = 40 lb box). They have a very clear website that spells out all their policies- check it out!
Azure Standard- Azure Standard is all natural, organic, earth friendly products. They deliver straight to customers, just like Zaycon, at a drop spot, or you can have non-temperature sensitive items delivered to your house via UPS. They carry everything from organic produce (priced lower than your local market) to chips, and even heirloom seeds. Azure gives you the choice to buy in bulk and save, or buy singles of most items. For example for organic russet potatoes, you can buy 1 5lb. bag for $5.80 (that's $1.16 per pound- beats my grocer's price), or 10 5lb bags for $34 (that's 68 cents a pound), or get the same 50 lbs of potatoes, but in one bag for the lowest price of all $28 (56 cents a pound)! If you can set up a buying club locally, you could take advantage of this fully. Don't know what a buying club is? That's another topic for money saving Mondays to come later.
Be sure to check back again next monday for the second part of this post, it's going to be a good one!