Now that we joined Costco and are having a blast with the Grocery Game we’re shopping in a whole new way. You have to set some rules for yourself, or bulk buying will end up turning into bulk spending! Here are some tips and tricks for successful bulk buying.
1. Take a calculator. If the unit price isn’t posted, figure it out with your calculator.
2. Set a limit each week. For example, only spend $20 on buying extras, or buy two extra items a week.
3. Calculate break even points. Determine exactly what the cost-benefit is for each membership level. The 2% rebate at Costco cost us an extra $40. That’s $166 a month spending to break even.
4. Use a recipe generator. Use Super Cook to find meals to make from the ingredients you have on hand. It’s great for using up items you bought on sale. I also like to use it when I have no idea what to make. Just enter the ingredients you have on hand, and it will generate a list of choices!
5. Find substitutions. Use The Cook’s Thesaurus to determine food substitutions. In case you bought a bunch of mustard seeds but don’t know what to do with them, you can find they substitute for wasabi powder or horseradish. This will open up the recipes searches.
6. Stock the pantry. Not sure where to start? Check out a pantry list and food storage guide for some inspiration.
7. Split it. Split the bulk buys with a friend if you won’t use it all.
8. Mark your calendar. For 6 months and 11 months to reevaluate if you are still saving money.
9. When in doubt, don’t buy. Can’t remember the price at another store or figure out if you are really getting a good buy? Skip it and wait until you are home to figure out if the price was really amazing.
10. Try samples. If you don’t know if you will like the chicken pesto pizza, don’t buy 20! Wait until you see a sample and try it first. Or buy one at the grocery store.
11. Separate donations. Keep a bag or box in your pantry for items to donate to a food pantry. If you get a free item that you know you won’t use, immediately separate it and put it directly in the box. Keep it full for food drives and you won’t have to donate your regularly purchased items.
12. Store food properly. It’s important to store the food correctly right when you get home. Freeze what you won’t use within a short time frame, or it might spoil… spoiling any of your savings.
13. Take the pantry challenge. The Pantry Challenge involves eating an entire meal just from food you have on hand. Do this regularly, and you’ll use up some of the food that has been sitting around in your pantry.
14. Remember one item. When you are trying to compare prices, just try to remember the price of one item each trip. That way the number will stick and you’ll be able to check the price next time you are at your regular store. Over time, you’ll be able to compare all of your typical items.
15. Keep your dispensers. Keep your last container for a smaller size. When buying in bulk, it will be much easier to transfer usable amounts to an easier container to dispense from.
16. Coordinate holidays. If possible, plan ahead to make the the same dish for holidays and gatherings. You can buy the ingredients in bulk saving money. I always bring green bean casserole to family holidays, so I bought a case of all the ingredients.