Your Grocery Budget: Buy in Bulk
One great way to spend less money in the long run is to buy in bulk. Often, the larger the package you buy, the cheaper the product is overall. There’s definitely some limitations and pitfalls with this money saving strategy, but if planned properly, you can save a lot!
Warehouse stores like BJ’s and Sam’s Club are the most popular stores to buy in bulk. These stores require a membership though, so the cost of that must be factored in when thinking about potential savings. Luckily, there are lots of other places to buy in bulk that don’t require a membership. Many grocery stores have family sized packages. In addition, you can buy in larger quantities on websites like Amazon and Boxed.com.
While you want to make sure that you’re actually saving money when buying in bulk, trying to compare prices can quickly get confusing. What you want to look at is the unit price, which is circled in red in the example to the right. In this particular example, the label is telling us that these Triscuits cost $4.98 per pound. If there was a larger box of triscuits and the unit price was, say $4.30 per pound, obviously the larger box would be cheaper overall. This quick tip works most of the time, but unfortunately you might be in a situation where the labels are using different units of measure. For example, one tag might tell you what the price per pound is, while another tag is showing the price per ounce. Luckily there’s that calculator app right on your phone to help you out!
Overall, buying in bulk can stretch your grocery budget dollars, but there are some situations in which you do NOT want to buy in bulk:
It’s a product you’ve never tried. You don’t want to buy a 24 pack of a new drink and it turns out NO ONE in your family likes it.
You’re not going to use it all before it expires. It you end up throwing out half of it, you definitely did NOT save!
You can’t afford it. Buying in bulk does require paying more up front. For some people that really struggle to pay for groceries regularly, buying in bulk unfortunately may not be a realistic money saving solution. If the big package of toilet paper costs $20, but you have to choose not to buy enough food for the week to make this work, this is not a viable option.
There’s one more factor that may require a closer look when deciding if you should buy in bulk, which is coupons. Most coupons are for a specific dollar amount per package, so the math can get confusing on this. In some cases, you might actually save more money by buying the smaller package and using the coupon. Let’s look at an example. Say you have a $1.00 off coupon for a specific brand of ketchup. The coupon specifically says $1.00 off one bottle of ketchup 16 oz or larger. At the store there’s a 16 oz bottle for $1.99 and a 64 oz bottle for $5.29. Looking at the unit price, the larger bottle would definitely be the correct choice if you didn’t have a coupon, as it’s cheaper per ounce. However, let’s look what happens when the coupon is applied. After subtracting the coupon price, it turns out that the cost per ounce is actually better for the 16 oz bottle! Crazy, right? This isn’t true for every situation so whip out that calculator to figure it out!
Now that you know the tricks for getting the best price per unit, get out there and get those savings! You’ll be a savings expert before you know it!