Monday, March 24, 2014

Six Tips for Saving Money When Bulk Buying and Buying in Bulk

After convincing myself we can’t save money buying in bulk because our house and family is small, a kitchen clean out made me realize we already are buying in bulk to save money for our small family and in a small house. Whodathunkit?

That’s when I realized when it comes to bulk buying, there are two ways to do it:

1. Buy the quantity/item you need from a large bulk shipment that has little to no extra packaging at a smaller unit price.

2. Buy a large package/quantity of the item at a smaller unit price.

Turns out we do both. I’m careful about how what I buy, how much, and how often since we don’t have the room for a giant piles of stuff (and frankly I don’t want the clutter it creates.)  My bulk buying looks a lot like this:

6TipsforSavingMoneywithBuyinginBulkandBulkBuying

Most of my bulk buying is spices from bulk food bins or from stores that sell spices in bags that I use to refill the empty jars in my spice rack. We really use all of those spices on the pantry door!

How to Make Buying in Bulk and Bulk Buying Work for You


Newlywed us thought buying the largest package possible automatically equaled savings. Eventually we clued in that this is not always the case. Here are our 5 tips for making buying in bulk and bulk buying to save money work for small families living in small houses.

1. Calculation the cost per unit (CPU) of the item by dividing the cost of the item  by its quantity or unit of weight to get the cost per unit of the item you want to buy. Tip: If you are buying spices from bulk food bins, don’t let a high price per pound scare you until you calculate the cost per ounce. Rarely you will need and use a pound of spice and refilling an empty spice jar like the cardamom pictured above takes less than 2 ounces. 

2. Will you eat/use it? Buying from a bulk food section helps with this because you can buy one serving to try before you buy more or a larger size. For example, we tried Lacey out on the 6 pound bag of Wellness before we started buying it in 15 pound bag for convenience and extra savings.

3. Is it something you will use before it spoils? If not, buy it in a smaller size or just what you need from a bulk food bin if possible.  And remember, bulk buying applies to things besides food. Somebody around here always seems to have a sports injury. That’s why we buy anti-inflammatories and Epson salts in the big bulk size. Tip: Some gardeners swear that adding Epson salt to the soil when you plant tomatoes makes them grow better. Have you tried it? Does it work?

4. How will you store it? Sometimes bulk food packages aren’t the most convenient when trying to dispense the item.  Decant bulk items from their little bags or big packages into repurposed empty jars keeps them fresh and allows me to fit more stuff in my kitchen cupboards.

I store Lacey's dog food in a rolling airtight pet food storage bin because it it keeps her food fresh and pest free. It is easier roll the container around in the laundry room when I need to use other items in that room.

5. What is your situation? Some times what you buy in bulk depends upon where you are in your family's life cycle of well, life. If you read my 12 Things We Do Not Buy post you'll see how we cut out many of the items we bought in big bulk sizes with a reusable substitute.


Now you know why I buy vinegar by the gallon. I use it to make my own cleaners like my lavender all-purpose cleaner. Sometimes I get crazy and use vinegar in cooking too.

On the other hand, now that Husband and I are working from home and blowing through coffee, it makes sense for us to start buying our snobby coffee beans in the big bulk size. That way we stay productive and our wallet stays happy. Win -win.

6. Sometimes convenience trumps price. Husband likes to refuel with a Cliff Bar after a workout. They are the same price per bar not matter if you buy them by the box or individually. Even though we don’t get a price break, we buy Cliff Bars by the box for convenience.

The same goes for rock salt. We never know how bad our winters will be from year to year. Buying small containers of rock salt bit us when the stores ran toward the end of a snowy winter. We go with the big bag we can find, especially since Husband likes to shovel our retired neighbors sidewalks and driveway since they shouldn’t.  Tip: To keep the rest of an open bag of rock salt from evaporating over the summer, store it in a 5 gallon bucket with a screw on lid.


If you don’t have room to store a bucket of rock salt over the summer, you can  break out the container and use the winter rock salt to make ice cream Waste not! Winking smile

Do you shop in bulk or bulk buy? What type of things do you buy? What tips can you share?

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