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Does it help to buy groceries in bulk?

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    Does it help to buy groceries in bulk?

    If I buy party bags of everything and buy all other food products in bulk, will it really save me money? What is your experience?

    #2
    It depends. The best way to know is to know/compare unit price -- $/oz, $/lb, $/ea, etc. For example: $1.50 for 2lb of apples or $7.00 for 10lb of apples. Which is cheaper? The small bag is $0.75/lb, and the big bag is $0.70/lb. In this case, the bulk item is cheaper. Depending on the product and the store you buy it in, many bulk items will be cheaper, but some will be more expensive. Just know your prices and compare.

    Of course, the other question you also have to ask yourself, though, is: Will you actually use 10lb of apples (or whatever) before it goes bad? That's where alot of people stumble in the "bulk food is cheaper" mentality. If they never use all of the product that they've bought, what's the benefit of buying a ton of it? None.

    For stuff I know I'll go through in a reasonable amount of time, I'll buy in bulk and generally get it a bit cheaper. Cereal, TP, rice, pasta, stuff like that. However, I've also made the mistake of buying a case (10 reams) of printer paper because it was significantly cheaper per sheet. In the year since I bought it, I've used only 1 ream. ugh... it'll take forever for me to get through it.
    "Praestantia per minutus" ... "Acta non verba"

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      #3
      I agree with kork13. You have to compare unit prices and know that you are buying in an amount that makes sense for you. We buy some things in bulk. We buy others in small packages. It depends on the price and the item.

      Also, pay attention to sales. Sometimes a store will put a certain size of an item on sale, making it cheaper per unit than the bulk package. When that happens, I just buy multiple small boxes instead of one big box. That happens sometimes with trash bags, for example. Usually, the cost/100 is best on the 80-count box but occasionally the 20-count box goes on sale for a lower unit price.
      Steve

      * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
      * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
      * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

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        #4
        We buy kids food in bulk. Oatmeal, mac and cheese, animal crackers and yogurt at sam's club.
        We looked thru sam's for other things we might stock up on, but did not find much else to get.

        Selection was the biggest issue (they might have apple sauce for example, but not plain apple sauce in a single serving container).

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          #5
          We've checked out the warehouse clubs (Sam's, BJ's, Costco) several times and have never found them to make sense. They offer limited selections, like Jim said, or bigger quantities than we could possibly use or prices that simply aren't better than a sale at the local supermarket. Plus, none of those places are conveniently located for us. We've belonged to BJ's a couple of times over the years when they had free membership offers. We went once or twice and that was it. Just wasn't worth our time.
          Steve

          * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
          * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
          * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
            We've checked out the warehouse clubs (Sam's, BJ's, Costco) several times and have never found them to make sense. They offer limited selections, like Jim said, or bigger quantities than we could possibly use or prices that simply aren't better than a sale at the local supermarket. Plus, none of those places are conveniently located for us. We've belonged to BJ's a couple of times over the years when they had free membership offers. We went once or twice and that was it. Just wasn't worth our time.
            Should be noted that for us, we tried Sam's membership 2 other times in past and never renewed it- and my wife's brother is store manager at Sam's, so we would have a vested interest in joining if it would save us money.

            On the yogurt, it was a no brainer- 18 pack at sam's beat the supermarket price I think by $.10/ container. and an 18 pack might last us 7-10 days at home- boys love yogurt and eat 2-3 per day.
            On the animal crackers we did not price out the small one, but when we saw the big one, it makes for an easy snack considering my twins eat 12 hours straight if we let them.
            Mac and cheese- if the savings was $.06/box, that is a lot, in addition we only cook 1-2 boxes per week.
            Oatmeal- not sure what savings was, as we would only buy at grocery store if it was on sale anyway. Boys eat Oatmeal sometimes 3X per day and its a double serving whenever we make it... so any savings here is significant.


            One main point is the "frequency" of use vs the number of trips to the store. We travel 30 minutes to Sam's, where as Kroger's is maybe 15 minutes away in 2 different directions and all over town. For us to see savings, the frequency of use needs to be "high". For example even though we consume yogurt fast, it also expires fast, so we can only buy 2 18 packs per trip to Sam's (we go maybe 2X per month, probably closer to 1X per month). That factors into buying in bulk as well.

            As another poster pointed out, all of us can save money on flour and rice by buying it in bulk. But if you only use 5 lbs of flour per month, you will not see the savings as much as someone which uses 10lbs or 20lbs per month. Your frequency of use will generally be what tips the scale in a situation like this.

            This is true in "business" as well- two examples:

            I have worked for Ford and Xerox and suppliers of both. Ford measures units by the hundred- hundreds of cars role off assembly line every day. If you can find a way to shave $.01 off a part, Ford sees that savings almost immediately in their profit. They can also negotiate low costs per part (think springs, paint, screws and other common parts). Xerox on a good week would put 30 copiers off the assembly lines I supported. They could not negotiate same savings Ford did on the springs, screws and paint even if the parts were identical. Economies of scale.

            I work for a software company and Ford was out first really large customer. A license of our product back in 1997 listed for 40k for ONE license and most companies would need anywhere from 10-500 licenses. Ford came in and signed up for 1000's of licenses for every Ford designer and their suppliers. The list price for Ford licenses was $1000 for the same software (if you could prove you were in Ford supplier network).

            Those numbers are rough examples, and I am always curious to know who paid list price for anything...
            economies of scale- look at frequency of use when deciding if its worth $.05/pound to drive 30 minutes (for example).
            Last edited by jIM_Ohio; 02-06-2010, 12:36 PM.

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              #7
              It depends...

              I buy in bulk, but I also am feeding three boys, one teen and two pre-teens. We went through 150 lbs of flour last year and about 15 lbs of rice and over 20 lbs of noodles.

              If you will use it up before it goes bad, then it is worth it. If you won't, then it isn't a good buy.

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                #8
                Only if you are paying a good unit price, it will be completely used up, you have enough storage space and have enough money in this month's budget to cover the large quantity, and it won't go bad and have to be thrown away before you use it. Simple as that!

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
                  We've checked out the warehouse clubs (Sam's, BJ's, Costco) several times and have never found them to make sense. They offer limited selections, like Jim said, or bigger quantities than we could possibly use or prices that simply aren't better than a sale at the local supermarket. Plus, none of those places are conveniently located for us. We've belonged to BJ's a couple of times over the years when they had free membership offers. We went once or twice and that was it. Just wasn't worth our time.
                  Totally agreed - have had the exact same experience here.

                  As far as buying bulk at our local grocery stores - like the others said - sometime it makes sense and sometimes it doesn't. We always carry a calculator when we shop, to be sure.

                  I think Costco would make sense if I had to feed a small army. I always thought we would get a membership when we had kids. So far, the numbers haven't quite worked out. Not that I don't think they ever will. Just not there yet. We could save on a small amount of things, but that doesn't offset the membership fee and the inconvenience factor.
                  Last edited by MonkeyMama; 02-07-2010, 09:07 AM.

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                    #10
                    My rule aside from the ones listed, know your unit price, and make sure you will use the product enough to make the drive/storage worth it.


                    Do NOT buy anything I don't want to eat in bulk. Make that shouldn't eat. I want ice cream, and oreos, and if I bought them in bulk I would eat them quite quickly, but I shouldn't.

                    Always review your membership to any warehouse club constantly. We have one but we save the money on milk alone. If that ever changes, we would stop going (we go weekly 6 gallons, save between 50 cents and $1, or more, on each gallon. works out to well over the cost of membership for a year. 4 loaves of bread each week are cheaper as well.)

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                      #11
                      I do and I have even with my DH and I. I love costco. But I buy meat in bulk and portion it out into different meals during the week. So ground beef might be tacos, mapo tofu, curry, meatballs, lasanga or baked ziti, shepard's pie, etc. Same with chicken or beef or pork. I have menus and we eat it for the week.

                      I also eat a lot of yogurt and cheese and salad. One type of fruit for the week too. But I'm lazy enough to not like going to the grocery store.
                      LivingAlmostLarge Blog

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                        #12
                        If there are special offers on, and that are actually good offers compared to the normal prices, then buying bulk is definitely worth it.

                        It's also a good way to stock up on certain items while they're cheap - and then you simply bulk buy the next item when that's on special offer and you don't need to buy the first item at the normal price as you've already stocked up on it!

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                          #13
                          Yeah it's definitely a good deal to shop in bulk - especially if you have a large family. I live with just my boyfriend and we get a few things from Costco, but obviously can't get produce because it's usually too much for just the two of us and goes bad pretty quickly. But other non perishable items are a good deal and anyone can buy and use them slowly

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                            #14
                            Since most bulk stores do NOT let you use coupons I find them not worth the membership expense. I can shop locally and use coupons sometimes stacking them and get things for free or nearly free. Can't do that on bulk items.

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                              #15
                              It helps, doesn't mean its the best way. But Using a Sam's club or something equivalent is good.

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