One of the questions we have encountered over the years is "What do you buy in bulk?" My short answer is many things. But today I will get specific.
First let me answer the question of "Why do we buy in bulk?" The simple answer is that it saves us a lot of money over a year's time compared to buying items one by one. If I pay $2.99 a lb. or more for boneless chicken breasts every time we want chicken, I am paying top dollar for it. But when the price drops to $ 1.58 or even $ 1.69 a pound and I buy 20 lbs. or even 40 lbs., I spend a lot less money per pound over a three month or six month period. The key is to only buy chicken breasts when it is at rock bottom prices. Our sales cycles here seem to repeat themselves every 3 months or so. We eat chicken a couple of times a week. If we spend $ 2.99 a lb. each time, that is $ 5.98 a lb. weekly or $310.96 for a years worth. If I buy it on sale at $ 1.58 a lb., I pay $ 3.16 weekly or $ 164.32 yearly. That is a savings of $ 146.64 over the course of a year or a 47% savings. I don't know of any investment vehicle that will pay you 47% a year in interest or dividends. You would also be hard pressed to have stock go up that much in a year unless you were very, very lucky. So my question to you is "Why wouldn't you buy in bulk"? Poultry and beef will keep in a freezer for a year if properly packaged. That is where a food saver is handy. Sure it costs to make the bags but you would have to buy ziplocs or some other kind of packaging anyhow. I buy my bags and material to make bags very cheaply at SWM or in bulk through Amazon. The added cost to the meat is minimal. By doing this with every item that you can buy in bulk, you are saving a lot of money that could go toward your ultimate goal of paying off debt, saving for a 20% down payment on a home, paying for your children's college education, becoming financially independent at an early age, or even purchasing an automobile with cash.
The meats that we buy in bulk most frequently are beef, chicken, turkeys, and hams. The hams and turkeys are purchased at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I will buy turkey breasts in April and May when they seem to be rock bottom. Around St. Patrick's Day I will buy 3-4 corned beefs. I will buy fish or shrimp when I find it at a great price but only three months worth at a time otherwise it degrades.
We also bulk buy butter, flour, sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, chocolate chips, vanilla, cornstarch, baking soda, vinegar, and powdered milk. Most of these are purchased at rock bottom prices around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
When cans of fruit, vegetables, evaporated milk, or pumpkin are on sale at their cheapest I will buy a case or two of each.
I buy potatoes and onions when I see them cheap but only enough for 3-4 months. Otherwise they go bad on me. I buy carrots when there is a good price for a 5 lb. bag at Sam's Club. Apples are bought by the bushel in the Fall -used for eating, making applesauce and pie filling. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and peaches are canned or frozen when they are in season locally. I try to put up a year's worth.
We buy all kinds of cheeses in 3-5 lb. blocks and shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese in huge bags that we freeze.
I buy most vegetables in their season and just eat them. However broccoli is cheap this time of the year and if I can find crowns cheap, I will blanch some for the freezer since it is my very favorite vegetable.
I buy spices in bulk from Sam's Club, San Francisco Herb Company or from bulk bins at the grocery store. I also purchase raisins, nuts, dried cranberries, and other dried fruits in bulk. The cranberries are used mostly for trail mix or for chicken or turkey salad. The other fruits are used in my trail mix.
I purchase all of my oils - canola, olive oil and peanut oil ( for frying) in huge containers from Sam's Club.
I buy rice in 25 lb. bags, quinoa, barley, oatmeal, and all kinds of beans in large quantities.
The only snack that we buy in bulk is popcorn. We buy most of our tortilla chips at Aldis for Mexican dishes. They expire too quickly to purchase in bulk.
Now for the non- food items that I buy in bulk. They are toilet paper, paper napkins, shampoo, vitamins, baby aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen, ibuprofen, liquid dish soap, refills for hand soap, toothbrush heads for my Sonicare electric toothbrush, furnace filters, large black garbage bags, tall kitchen garbage bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, bags for my foodsaver and some Ziploc bags.
I also purchase rubbing alcohol, borax, and washing soda because I make my own laundry detergent, dishwasher soap and along with the vinegar and baking soda, most of my own cleaning products.
I am sure I have missed some items that we buy but this is most of it. By doing this most of the time we have saved thousands of dollars over our lifetime. We still do it even though there are only two of us and just love watching our net worth go up every month.
Some of you who are reading this are thinking I can't do this. I don't have the money. I thought we didn't when we were first married and even when I was feeding a family of four. But you can't afford not to do this.
When we were in our early twenties, I would add $5.00 a month to our monthly budget and I would use it to stockpile. As the years went on the amount became greater that I could use for that purpose. Because I was stockpiling, I didn't have to buy everything for 21 meals a week for us. I could use some of the stockpile. The stockpile grew until I felt we had 3-6 months worth of food. So I would buy only what was on the best sales and a few things that we absolutely had to have that week.
If you have never done this, try it. It snowballs until you are paying rock bottom prices for almost everything. You have to know your prices though so don't skip tracking them. It's the way I have been shopping for almost fifty years and I won't be quitting it any time soon.
If you don't have a warehouse club membership, there are many other ways to bulk buy. Many grocery stores are now carrying bulk sizes as are Walmart and even Target. Use the resources you have. But make sure that you watch the expiration dates and don't purchase more than you can use in that period of time. You don't want to have to throw your savings out.
When the weather is bad here I am thankful for my stockpile. If I run out of something like my bulk grated cheeses, I won't venture out to Sam's Club just to buy more. We will either go without or I will buy at the store with the cheapest per pound price which is usually at Aldis until the weather is good enough to venture to Sam's.