Before thinking about buying household items and groceries at your local bulk store, come to grips with how much storage space you have. You don”t want to come home with 24 rolls of paper towels and have to line your bedroom with them. Back when we were still DINKs (that’s Double Income, No Kids), we managed to buy an average-sized home which gives us some good storage areas, especially in the garage. Additionally, we bought a second freezer for perishable food storage. So, to sum up, we can only park one car in the two-car garage, but we do save on certain grocery and household items by buying in bulk.
We buy almost all our meat in bulk. 6 pounds of ground beef, 10 pounds of chicken breasts, tilapia (fish) fillets, pork tenderloin, pork chops, ground turkey, spiral sliced ham, bacon, salami, and lunch meat are the most common purchases (not all at once of course!). All of these items, when brought home, are repackaged into smaller components and stored away in the freezer. I love having certain meats on hand – particularly ground turkey or beef and chicken breasts. When I get ready to prepare dinner, I can pop out to the garage and take out one pound of ground beef for the spaghetti sauce or two chicken breasts for the grill. The key is having a defrost setting on your microwave or planning tomorrow”s dinner today so that you can begin your meat defrosting in the fridge. *Remember to defrost meats in the fridge, not on the counter!
Other food items that are easy to purchase in bulk and have on hand: tortillas, bagels, english muffins (repackage all of these bread products into smaller units and store in your freezer), soda, pasta, canned fruits and vegetables, some common spices (I only buy my frequently used cinnamon and vanilla in bulk), cold cereal, instant oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, pasta sauce, chicken broth, and sliced, shredded or string cheese (as with other perishable items, repackage these into smaller parts and freeze). I am an avid baker and I go through quite a bit of flour, so I buy 25 pounds of flour at a time. I divide it into gallon ziploc bags and store it in the freezer as well. Other frozen items, such as instant waffles can usually be found in bulk.
I only buy perishable items like milk, eggs, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits if I know that I am going to use them in the immediate future. Personally, I don’t usually purchase those items at the bulk store. Also, keep in mind that a giant bag of chips might look delicious, but do you really want to be eating the same thing for seven nights in a row? Giant bags of chips, once opened, go stale at the same rate as regular sized bags. Because you are buying in bulk, be sure that what you are buying is something that you do enjoy eating. Some bulk stores, like Costco, often have tasting stations where you can try out what you might buy.
Because I repackage so many things into smaller parts, I use Ziploc bags like crazy. So, to begin my list of household items to buy in bulk: Gallon, Quart and Sandwich sized Ziploc bags. 🙂 Other household items: toilet paper, paper towels, paper goods (if you use them, like plates, napkins, etc.), cleaning supplies (such as lysol spray, lysol wipes, swiffer refills, etc.), sanitary supplies, garbage bags, Advil or other frequently used medications (Tylenol, Claritin), and vitamins. We also buy shaving cream, toothpaste, bar soap and lotion in bulk if they carry our brand. When the kids were babies, we purchased formula in bulk. Diapers and wipes are available at most of the bulk stores as well.
Remember to go shopping (any shopping – not just bulk) armed with a list and a full belly. It is far easier to stick to your list when you are not hungry. If you”re taking the kids, go at a time when they are most likely to be cheerful. The great thing about buying in bulk is that you won”t have to make those twice-weekly trips to the store. You can go once a week or maybe less!
I am a huge fan of Costco, so that is where we buy (and save) on most of these items. We use an American Express card so we do get cash back at the end of every year, based on our purchases. Other things we save on at Costco that are not listed above are tires, printer ink. Check for when these items go on sale, or have rebates or coupons attached.