I remember it like it was yesterday. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, excitement was in the air. With my membership card in hand, I proudly marched through the doors of the massive warehouse club. Then, I stopped dead in my tracks. There was just so. much. stuff. How on earth was I supposed to decide what I should buy in bulk? Were the prices really that good? Or could I get some items at my local grocery store for less?
I ended up making two huge newbie mistakes that day.
Mistake #1 When a newbie decides to buy in bulk
The first newbie mistake I made on that fateful day, was that I bought way too much stuff. I stocked up on mayonnaise, pickles, cheese, grapes, toilet paper and tons more. I (over) filled two carts. You should have seen me trying to cram my bounty into my car! I’m sure people were walking by saying, “Yep, she’s a warehouse club newbie!”
As if the embarrassment in the parking lot wasn’t bad enough, upon arriving home, I realized I didn’t have anywhere to put all of those awesome deals I had scored. We ended up using a huge package of paper towels as an end table in our living room for months afterward.
To add insult to injury, much of the food I purchased in bulk ended up going bad before my small family of two adults and a toddler could eat it!
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Mistake #2 When a newbie tries to pay for it all
Let’s just say, I was more than a little surprised when the cashier announced my total. I thought I was supposed to be saving money and here she was telling me I needed to fork over enough cash (at the time anyway) for a week-long vacation at Disney World. I was shocked!
So, I did what any newbie warehouse club shopper would do. I pulled out my credit card and closed my eyes. What, did you think I would actually choose to put stuff back?
Oh goodie, now I had the pleasure of paying 12% interest on a mega-sized jar of mayonnaise. Which, I didn’t need to begin with!
10 Items I NOW Buy in Bulk
Trust me, I have learned my lesson since that memorable day I ignorantly strolled into Sam’s Club. As a result, here are 10 items I buy in bulk whenever I can.
- Paper Products. This includes toilet paper (because nobody likes to run out), paper towels, and tissues. I buy the store’s version of these products and I always save more than going to my local big-box store. (Even if I use a coupon).
- Dental Care. I buy items like toothpaste, mouthwash, and toothbrushes in bulk whenever I can because I know we will use them. And I save money when I buy them in bulk.
- Personal Hygiene Products. Including razors, bar soap, shampoo/conditioner, and lotion. It’s always nice to have these things on hand when you run out.
- Vitamins. I buy my family’s supplements/multi-vitamins in bulk because of the huge savings over buying them at a health/drug store. I’ve never noticed a difference in quality.
- Alcohol. The price per ounce is insanely low. I don’t drink often, but when I do I want to be sure I don’t pay too much for it.
- Coffee. I love coffee and I drink it every day. I like to get the whole beans and grind them at the store. I keep my ground coffee in a clear cookie jar next to my coffee maker. Any extra, stores nicely in the freezer.
- Aluminum Foil and Baggies. I buy the chef’s grade aluminum foil, instead of the name brand foil. It’s thicker and it comes on a huge roll. In fact, I’ve had my current roll of aluminum foil for over a year now. And I use it all of the time.
- Printer Ink. I save the most money when I buy ink for my printer in bulk. Plus, I can buy it once per year and not have to worry about running out mid-print.
- Grains. Oats, popcorn kernels, and granola go quickly in my house, so I make sure to stock up on them.
- Laundry Detergent. No, I do not make my own detergent. I tried, but my washing machine didn’t like it, and my family’s clothes started getting stinky. Instead, I stock up on mid-grade laundry detergent whenever I shop at Sam’s Club
10 Items I Do NOT Buy in Bulk
You may have noticed some things are missing from my top ten items I like to buy in bulk. The following items are simply not worth the trouble for one reason or another.
- Condiments. Mayonnaise (especially), ketchup, mustard, jelly. I prefer to purchase these items in smaller amounts because my family doesn’t use up the larger containers before they spoil.
- Spices. I grow most of our spices, so there’s no need to buy in bulk. Even if I didn’t grow them, I still wouldn’t buy them in bulk, because they lose their “zing” after a while.
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. I don’t can fruits and veggies and my freezer isn’t large enough to store them. I choose to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables weekly, so less goes to waste.
- Grains. You’re not seeing double. Some grains I do buy in bulk. Others, such as flour, rice, and pasta, I do not. Why? Because I am not a baker and my family doesn’t eat a lot of rice and pasta. In addition, these items are usually pretty cheap at my local grocery store, so the savings wouldn’t be very substantial.
- Canned Goods. I do like to stock up on canned goods whenever I can, but I have found the prices at my grocery store to be cheaper, so I pass on them at the warehouse club.
- Unhealthy Snacks. While I will buy things like granola bars, beef jerky, and nuts in bulk, I will not buy chips, candy, or soda. If I bought large quantities of junk food, I would eat it all!
- Media Storage. Including flash drives, blank DVDs, and CDs. I store everything digitally, so I have no need for external media storage.
- Vanilla Extract. You will save a lot of money buying vanilla extract in bulk. However, you will save even more if you make it (like I do). A bottle of vodka (bought at the warehouse club) plus a handful of vanilla beans (in the pod), and voila, enough extract for a lifetime!
- Office/School Supplies. I have no use for a box of 100 pens or 200 paper clips. I don’t even know if I’ve used that many in my lifetime! Even though we homeschool, we tend to use basic supplies like markers and glue sticks. And, again, my local big box store sells them super cheap.
- Anything I do not have Space for. I learned my lesson big time from this one! We live in a small 100+-year-old house. As you can imagine, there isn’t a lot of storage space. Therefore, I have to make sure whatever I bring home will fit comfortably inside our 1,100 square foot home. I have no desire to use rolls of paper towels as an end table ever again!
What items do you buy in bulk? Are there any items you do not buy?
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