Bulk v. Buying Small
The keys to saving money when buying groceries at the store are to make conscious shopping choices, and to shop with a purpose. This cuts down on impulse buys, which helps save money. Every once in a while, Jeff will impulsively buy a box of raspberry filled doughnut holes (and beer), but that’s not so healthy (even though you can splurge once in a while), so we try to keep it at a minimum. Below are four rules to help you shop consciously and with purpose:
1. Make a Menu
Plan all your meals for the week before you go to the grocery store. We use a calendar template that we print every week, and we write out the menu on the calendar (here). Check out Jeff’s post here. We only plan dinners, because we buy one or two things for breakfast and lunch that we have every day. Examples are: cereal (which I take to work with me in Tupperware containers and try not to let the milk leak in my purse), Jimmy Dean D’lights (I heat these up in the microwave about 5-10 minutes before I run out the door, and eat it on the way to work. Can you tell I’m not a morning person?), cans of chicken to make a big batch of chicken salad, and lettuce from Costco (and I’ll sometimes add Salmon to the salad. Just be careful to leave the window open if you don’t want upset roommates.). This will insure you aren’t buying things that aren’t on your list.
2. Best Deal
Use the “Best Deal” formula to calculate the better deal between brands, and buying in bulk v. the grocery store. Compare price per ounce, or unit price. The product with the lowest price per ounce is the best deal. If the price per ounce isn’t listed, take the total amount of the item, and divide it by the total ounces in the product, which should be listed on the package. Be aware that you don’t want to sacrifice quality to get the better deal. It’s a waste of money to buy something if you have to replace it later, or don’t enjoy it.
3. What to buy in bulk
The best things to buy in bulk are non-perishable items, items that have a longer shelf life, or items you can freeze. To give you an idea of what’s best to buy in bulk, I’ve listed many things we buy at Costco:
Apples Toilet paper Ibuprofen Bread
Cheese (All kinds) Chicken Stock Olive oil Lunch meat
Thinwiches (Franz) Vitamins Taziki Salad
Yogurt Tums Pesto Blueberries
Celery Pork Roast Chicken Spices
Napkins Plastic Bags Frozen Fruit Palmero Pizza
Laughing Cow Cheese Pickles Canned Chicken Canned Salmon
Garbage bags Hummus Vita Rain Seltzer Water
There are a lot of things that Costco doesn’t sell, and that is when you should choose the best deal between brand names and generic.
4. What not to buy in bulk
The things we don’t buy in bulk are mostly foods that go bad fast, and foods that are too expensive in bulk, such as certain cuts of meat (while I don’t deny that $5.99 per pound is a good price for beef, we usually don’t have the scratch to buy the 20 pound containers it comes in. That goes for other things that we can’t afford to buy in bulk). Things that we only need a little bit of we also buy at the grocery store. For instance, if we are making a soup and it calls for 1 chili, we can buy what we need at the grocery store in the organic section (because often times, you can just buy one). Buying one of something when you only need one saves you money also. You also have more room in your cupboards, and you don’t have to worry about storing the product correctly to help it keep longer. To give you an idea of what’s best to buy at the grocery store, I’ve listed many things we buy there:
What Costco doesn’t carry Eggs Milk Most fruits
Most vegetables Expensive Meats
Now you know the rules to toggling between bulk and grocery store shopping. You are now armed with the power to shop smarter. If you follow these steps to shop consciously and with purpose, you will be able to save money and eat healthier.