Is Bulk Buying Food A Good Idea?

by Christina Brown · 4 comments

in Frugal Living

Is Bulk Buying Food a Good Idea?

With the price of groceries once again on the rise, we’re all looking for ways to save money on our food bill. The big warehouse stores and the coupon sites are always telling you to stock up when you find a great deal. But is bulk buying food a good idea? That depends.

Bulk buying food is a BAD idea:

  • When you can’t finish the food you buy before it goes bad.  Wasted food is wasted money.
  • When you are spending more than you can afford just for the sake of stocking up.  (Duh.)
  • When you are bulk buying foods that aren’t particularly good for you, like candy or unhealthy snacks.  Don’t sacrifice your health just for the savings.
  • When you’ve never tried the product before.  It’s no fun having to suffer through a large quantity of something you don’t like, or worse yet, tossing it and wasting money!
  • When you don’t have the space or means to store your bulk food purchase properly.  I don’t know anyone who wants bugs in their 50 pound bag of flour.
  • When you haven’t done the math to determine whether it is a good deal.  Just because it’s a big package, doesn’t mean it is a big savings.

Bulk buying food is a GOOD idea:

  • When you have done the math and found it to be a good savings.  Make sure you calculate the unit price to determine if making a bulk purchase is a cost savings.  Sometimes you can save more money by buying smaller packages using coupons than you can by buying the largest package possible.
  • When you have a large family or you’re hosting a big gathering and know that you will use up the items before they go bad.  You’ll save a lot of time by bulk buying food.
  • When you can afford to stock  up. You’re not saving money if you’re spending beyond your means.
  • When you have plenty of room to safely store your bulk purchase.  Make sure to have plenty of airtight containers and cool, dry spaces to store your food purchases.
  • When you are stocking up on foods you like and know you will eat.  Food you enjoy is food you won’t waste.
  • When it saves you trips to the store.  This is an especially good idea if you make a lot of impulse purchases every time you go to the store. Less trips can mean greater savings, and you’ll save time, too.  It’s also a savings on gas and wear and tear on your vehicle if you live a distance from your store.

The bottom line on bulk buying food

Bulk buying food can be a great way to stretch your grocery budget.  Just make sure you are following the guidelines I’ve laid out here and you’re doing it for the right reasons.  Anything else would be a waste.

Now it’s your turn:  Do you bulk buy food?  Why or why not?


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sherri April 10, 2014 at 11:10 am

Sometimes I buy in bulk when it’s something we’ll eat consistantly and at a reduced price. However, does anyone else have the problem that when there is more food in the house we tend to eat more than usual? Especially with snacky foods, but even sometimes with healthy foods my family seems to eat more. But maybe it’s just the teenagers I’m feeding LOL

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2 Christina @ Northern Cheapskate April 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm

That is a very good point, Sherri! It is possible that you’ll end up using more of a product when it is in abundance. (And you don’t have to have teenagers to know that!) With some things, like snacks, you could portion out individual servings into reusable containers so that there’s a bit more control over them.

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3 JoeTaxpayer April 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I like the list.
The perishables are tough. Zero waste is great, but there’s a higher number that’s still ok.
The 10lb Costco onions were 59 cents a pound, vs store $1.29. Say I throw out half the bag. I’m still ahead for the fact that I didn’t ever have to run out to grab that one item for a dinner. A stop on the way home from work still has a cost. 10 minutes, 15, it’s still a waste of time.
There’s value in having the well stocked pantry even taking perishables into account. A day here and there when you order takeout for lack of a decent option at home will cost far more than the bit you’ll throw out from having too much.

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4 Christina @ Northern Cheapskate April 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm

If I do stock up on a large amount of perishables, I just try to freeze what I can’t use right away. I still end up tossing sometimes, but I try to avoid it if I can.

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