When it comes to buying things in bulk, the hot-button words are "individually packaged" and "expiration date." Many items come in bulk but are still individually packaged; some you can individually package yourself; either way, you'll want to be sure to keep an eye on expiration dates and label items you repack. Here are the best items to buy in bulk for every area of your house, from the bathroom to the kitchen and beyond.
Food is a fairly obvious place to buy in bulk, especially if you have a lot of mouths to feed. But you'll want to pay special attention to expiration dates here to avoid overbuying and wasting money and food.
Cereal is a great thing to buy in bulk because the regular grocery store boxes don't last very long if you're an avid cereal-eating family. Packs of individual boxes are best; they'll keep freshest longest. If you can only purchase a bulk box or bag, be sure you have enough airtight containers to separate the cereal into manageable portions so it doesn't go stale.
Pasta and Pasta Sauce:
Pasta and pasta sauce are two more pantry staples that can be purchased in bulk to avoid the "what's for dinner" panic. With a box of ziti and a jar of tomato sauce, there's always an option for dinner. Again, purchase bulk packs of individual boxes of pasta and jars of sauce rather than large cans of sauce or packages of pasta. If you need to purchase sauce in a big jar, be sure to portion it out, label and date it, and freeze immediately.
Any manner of snack or individual lunchbox treat, such as granola bars, fruit snacks, packages of goldfish crackers or chips, applesauce, etc. can be purchased in bulk. Since these are usually already individually packaged, they keep for a long time and are handy to have in large quantities. Forget it was your turn to feed the soccer team? You're covered. Spontaneous road trip? Fill a bag.
Individually bottled drinks are a major money-drain when you purchase them here and there at convenience stores. Keeping your fridge and pantry stocked with iced tea, bottled coffee drinks, sports drinks, juices, or whatever else you tend to over-pay for saves time and money. Pack them as afternoon office incentives, or send one with the kids on a field trip for a special treat. Just be sure to pace yourself…otherwise, the price tag on individual drinks gets hefty.
The frozen foods section is a favorite of most bulk-food shoppers, and for good reason. If you have space, it makes sense to load up on last-minute dinner options, easy entertaining items, and family favorites. Frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, popsicles, and frozen vegetables are all quick ideas. You can also have frozen mini quiche for last-minute guests and frozen steaks for that impromptu date night. Once again, be aware of expiration dates, rotate your freezer, and label purchase dates on items to get the most bang for your buck.
The basic necessities of life are always worth buying in bulk. As long as you have room for storage, it makes sense to keep multiples of these items so you never run out at an inopportune time.
Look for a bulk pack that contains 3-5 individually packaged tubes. Check the expiration date, too; make sure you and your family can use that many tubes before the expiration date. Make sure you get a toothpaste you know you like though; it's no fun to brush with an endless supply of a toothpaste you can't stand.
This is one item you'll never want to run out of, so it is a smart bulk purchase. Split up the storage areas if necessary; store some in each bathroom, in the linen closet upstairs, and in the laundry room, too. Again, when purchasing in bulk, make sure this is a toilet paper you like before committing to a whole case of it.
If you have a deodorant brand you like and use regularly, it can make sense to pick up a 3-pack or a 5-pack next time you're shopping. You're likely to spend less, and you'll never have to make a drugstore run on your way to work for an overpriced tube again.
Shampoo and Conditioner:
You'll definitely save money purchasing shampoo in bulk. You might even be able to get this from the bulk section of natural food store or co-op, where you can refill bottles of your choosing instead of purchasing a 3- or 6-pack of plastic bottles.
Be it bar soap or liquid soap, for the bathroom sink or the shower, buying soap in bulk is a big money-saver. Larger refill bottles of liquid soaps make sense because you're reducing waste; bar soap is even more economical and lasts much longer, with less packaging.
Razors and Razor Blades:
Razors and razor blades are extremely pricey when purchased in small packs at the drugstore. Instead, find a brand you like that sells bulk packages and stock up. These won't go bad, so you'll always have a fresh one at hand, which could make or break your morning routine.
Of course, paper goods are always handy to have in bulk. You don't want to come up short when it comes to cleaning up messes. Paper towels take up storage space, it's true, but they can be stored in closets and cabinets, and even in the garage if need be.
Bulk cleaning supplies, like bathroom sprays, window cleaners, laundry soap and dishwashing detergent, can be much more affordable when you purchase them in bulk. And you'll have no excuse for a less-than-pristine home.
First-aid items, such as basic pain relievers, band-aids, and antacids, are great to buy in bulk. You'll save a lot of money—small bottles and boxes are always more expensive, and you won't need to make a midnight run for Maalox.
In case of a zombie apocalypse, it may also be handy to have extra ammunition if you have any weapons, and no one has ever gone wrong with a bulk supply of condoms or an extra tube of lube (though watch those expiration dates). As long as you're having a zombie apocalypse party, you might as well bulk-buy some alcohol, too...it's much less expensive at a warehouse club.