Do’s and Don’ts of Buying Groceries in Bulk Quantities

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Worst foods to buy in bulk

  • Big containers of junk food. They will inevitably go stale, Bodge says.
  • Cheese. It doesn’t freeze well, advises Bodge.
  • Fresh or frozen fish. It has a very high water content, and freezing it for too long can result in flavor loss, says Altman.
  • Olive oil. It has a limited shelf life.

Don’t buy fresh fruits or vegetables in bulk that you don’t plan to freeze within one week, warns Jones. And unless you eat eggs daily, don’t ever buy eggs in bulk, because they typically expire within three to five weeks.

Some of the best savings from bulk shopping can often be on non-food items. In particular, Bodge suggests, watch out for great deals on paper products like toilet paper, paper towels, tissues and napkins. She’s also a big fan of buying plastic wrap, plastic storage bags and garbage bags in bulk.

Where to buy in bulk

For most folks, says Bodge, it comes down to which warehouse membership store — Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s Wholesale Club — is located closest to you. If it’s too far to the warehouse store, it’s probably not worth getting a membership, she says. If you are not planning to use the warehouse store at least once a month, it’s also probably not worth it. Membership fees for the three clubs are between $50 and $60, but what’s most important is how much you’re saving overall on the bulk purchases. If you’re not saving 20 to 40 percent, it’s probably not worthwhile, she says.

Instead of purchasing a full membership to any warehouse store, Jones strongly suggests seeking a trial membership, which is usually free. This way you can see if you like the store and the warehouse shopping experience. BJ’s, for example, offers one-day shopping passes on its website to nonmembers, and it sometimes offers three-month trial memberships.

Other places to buy in…