Is Buying in Bulk a Savings
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
It’s cheaper, it’s easier, it’s fresher. What am I referring to? Some would answer buying in bulk. Bulk items are available in stores and online; you just need to know what to look for and how to shop for them. Buying bulk can help your budget, plus is a green alternative with less packaging and is more efficient to ship.
You can find bulk quantities of food at warehouse clubs, natural food stores, some supermarkets, and even online. Before you buy that 25 pound bag of rice though, you might want to ask yourself a few questions. One of those being, will you save enough money to warrant the purchase. Do you have a place to store it safely? If you can answer yes to those questions, then it might be a good buy for you.
Buying in bulk means the food may be fresher because turnover is higher. Take breakfast cereal as an example. When purchased in a larger bulk container, the rotation is faster. Therefore, the cereal is fresher and has a longer expiration date.
Paper products are easy to buy in bulk if you have a place to store them. They do not have a shelf life and will eventually be used. However, buying a 10-pound bag of onions or a 3 pound bag of baby carrots takes a little more consideration. Can you use them fast enough or will they spoil?
Don’t assume that bulk foods are always cheaper. Although they usually are a better deal, this is not always true. Check the unit pricing for the item. Is it cheaper than what you would pay for it in a smaller packaged version?
Weekly specials are promoted at supermarkets and discount merchants weekly. Many times at below cost, referred to as "loss leaders" to draw you to the store. In this case, buying on sale can be better than many warehouse or online deals. Keeping a price book will let you know if the sale price is a bargain. There are many apps out there that allow you to keep a price book on your phone.
If shopping at warehouse clubs, consider the annual membership fee, and realize the savings may disappear if you shop there infrequently. If you check your prices and buy smartly, chances are you will recoup the cost of joining through savings. Do not let the bargains overwhelm you; it can be tempting to overbuy in warehouse clubs, particularly on nonfood items.
When shopping online for items in bulk, know the shipping policy. If you have to spend additional money to get free shipping, have you actually saved any? Also find out how they ship and how soon you receive the item if it is perishable.
Keep the right freezer tools on hand, such as a roll of freezer paper, freezer tape and a magic marker. Freezer paper has a waxy side that protects the surface of the meat and helps prevent moisture loss. The paper on the outside is a surface that you can use for labeling. Freezer tape has a special adhesive that holds at extremely cold temperatures. This may not be the case for regular masking tape. Be sure to wrap your meats in freezer paper; it allows you to buy meat in bulk packages to rewrap and freeze for future use.
Be prepared to have extra storage space available when buying in bulk. This might mean additional storage containers and having extra freestanding storage cabinets.
You can save time by having items on-hand rather than running out two or three times a week to buy groceries. You will save money in the end, meaning extra cash in your wallet. The initial bulk buying investment will be higher than getting a few things here and there, but the extra money you save might allow you to splurge on something else.
For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaDue, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.
By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
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