Counting the Benefits of Buying in Bulk

Bulk purchasing is a great way to save money on items you use every day. If you have a large family, the benefits of buying in bulk can also include making fewer shopping trips for those essentials that always seem to be disappearing from your pantry.

A quick comparison of some popular bulk items shows that it pays to shop around. In addition to pricing, it’s important to factor in the costs of membership at a club store like Costco or shipping costs when buying in bulk over the internet. Looking at the per unit cost is often the best way to compare prices. Here are some recent price checks comparing bulk purchases. Keep in mind that these prices vary over time and by region, so make sure to get the most up-to-date information while budgeting.

Diapers

If you have young children, you’ll need to keep a good amount of diapers on hand. With a minimum purchase, diapers can qualify for free shipping at both Costco and Amazon.

  • Costco: 198 for $42.99, 21.7 cents each
  • Target: 174 for $38.99, 22.4 cents each
  • Amazon: 174 for $38.65, 22 cents each

Batteries

A healthy supply of batteries is another must have, as you’ll likely need them for toys, remote controls and smoke detectors in your home.

  • Costco: 80 for $31.99, 40 cents per battery
  • Amazon: 100 for $39.80, 40 cents each
  • Walmart: 24 for $14.94, 62 cents each

Spices and Baking Ingredients

Bulk spices may not be a good fit for every household. Spices can go stale and lose quality if left for too long. However, if you bake frequently or use a certain spice on a daily basis, it may be advantageous to purchase larger quantities. In grocery stores, small containers of spices are often expensive. When you buy them in bulk, you can really save.

The same goes for nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Certain retailers, like Nuts.com, specialize in delivering these baking and trail mix staples in bulk.

  • Costco: Walnuts $18.99 for three pounds ($6.33 per pound)
  • Walmart: Walnuts $6.98 per pound, regular price

Trash Bags

Like paper towels and facial tissue, large boxes of garbage bags offer outsized savings compared to typical grocery store packages.

  • Costco: $14.85 per 100
  • Walmart: $12.86 per 100
  • Amazon: $12.86 per 100

Tips for Buying in Bulk

Though you may be tempted to buy everything in bulk, it’s likely that not all the items on your grocery list work well as large purchases. When writing up your shopping list, keep these things in mind:

  • Assess your storage: Larger items like paper towels or cases of water will need to be stored in your house until they are used. Consider adding storage shelves or designating a storage spot in your house.
  • Pay attention to expiration dates: There’s always a chance that you’ll need to throw items away before you’ve used them, which cancels out the savings of bulk purchasing.
  • Be careful with variety pack options: Many bulk items like oatmeal packets and snack bars are available in multipacks with different flavors. If no one in your household likes one of three flavors, you may wind up tossing a fair amount of your purchase.
  • Stay health conscious: When purchasing snacks for your family, pay attention to how they’re consumed. Having too many snacks around the house may encourage your kids to make less-than-healthy choices. If bulk snack purchases go more quickly than healthier options like fruit and veggies, you may want to consider whether it’s actually worth saving money on snacks that may encourage unhealthy eating.

Paying attention to the benefits of buying in bulk helps extend your family’s grocery budget. It may take a little extra work and planning, but the savings are worth it.

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