One of the most common money saving tips I read is to buy products in bulk and build a stockpile when things are on sale. In theory, it seems like a fantastic idea – spend a little now, save a little later plus your pantry stays well stocked for home cooking. Win-win. Unfortunately in practice, at least for my family, that hasn’t been the case. There are quite a few reasons why we’ve decided to stop buying in bulk and instead buy in quantities that are more reasonable for our family.
So why am I no longer buying in bulk?
This is by far the biggest reason why we have to quit bulk and sale shopping. While cleaning out the basement and getting our house ready to sell I found way too much expired foods. Even stuff we do eat was expired because they were purchased in too large of quantities for us ever to eat (one Costco sized purchase.) At least 3 of my 40 bags in 40 days were food. Going forward, all foods will be bought in a one month supply or less.
Even if you have the room, sometimes space is better off served for other purposes. If your bulk shopping is taking away from actual living space in the name of storing food that would better off stored at the… Store… It’s time to reconsider your bulk-shopping lifestyle. The cost of stress is far higher than the few dollars we may save.
Shopping in bulk means that I have to eat that specific product until it’s gone, which usually ends up meaning less variety in our meals. As a family that never gets take out, it’s important to us that our home cooked meals aren’t always the same. Just because it’s a great deal doesn’t mean I won’t get sick of eating it.
This one is a bit subjective – some people find shopping for groceries to require more effort but for me trying to figure out meals to eat up my stockpile is much more dubious. I dislike trying to come up with clever ways to use up 18 cans of corn rather than just making my meal plan with what’s on sale for the week and buying what I need.
It Doesn’t Actually Save Us Money
Between the wasting (which admittedly is poor planning on my part due to reasons 3 and 4) and extra electricity costs to run the big freezer I believe we don’t actually save much money when shopping in bulk. We also ended up doing weekly trips anyway for produce or to stock up on the latest sale and often spend far more than we do just trying to stick to a sensible budget and eating plan.
We do have a family of 7 mind you, so we definitely have to buy some things in large quantities – in those cases it’s always cheaper to buy in bulk. What I’m doing now is breaking the cycle of stock up sales, cases of products at Costco, and building a stockpile that we don’t end up using. Buy with purpose, buy with a plan, and buy what you need.