Buying things in bulk might seem like a good idea because each item costs less when you buy it together in a larger quantity. And while it is a good idea to buy things like toilet paper or diapers in bulk, you shouldn’t always fall into the “more is more” trap.
Specifically, things with a shorter shelf life or things which you may end up using for a long time can ultimately turn out wasteful if you buy them in large quantities and are unable to use them up before the expiry date. Here, you actually end up losing money even if it initially seemed like a good deal.
Here are 9 items that you should never buy in bulk and a few that you should:
Don’t Buy: Spices
Unless you’re throwing dinner parties every single night, there’s no need to buy spices in bulk. A single container of most spices will last you up to several months, even if you use it every single day.
Some spices claim to not expire for up to 4 years, and while they may not go bad, they will surely lose the freshness and flavor as time goes on. Especially considering that spices need to be stored correctly if they are to be kept for a long time – so if your pantry cupboard isn’t “cool or dry” enough, you may end up having to throw them away. They could be affected by the heat from your oven or even the weather. Unless you’re prepared to store your bulk-purchased spices in the refrigerator, we advise you do not.
Buy: Paper Products
Paper products, school, and office supplies can cost a lot cheaper when bought in bulk than when you buy them individually so it is a good idea to purchase them in one go. These kinds of items go on sale a few times during the year, especially during back-to-school season, so you can purchase all that you need for the rest of the year and save yourself the hassle of running out to get paper every time the printer runs out and also save a lot of money through bulk discounts. And hey, it’s not like paper has an expiration date!
Don’t Buy: Eggs
Buying a dozen eggs at the grocery store will probably cost you less per egg than it would if you purchased a larger pack from a warehouse club. Since most egg cartons come with an expiration date of 3-5 weeks, it’s more than likely that a small family wouldn’t end up finishing a 36-pack of eggs before the expiration date. In any case, it is better to buy smaller quantities that will ensure freshness, especially since it costs less anyway!
Don’t Buy: Bleach
You might not have considered that your cleaning products could expire quickly, but that is exactly the case with liquid bleach, which only lasts about 6 months to lose its effectiveness once it has been opened.
As for bleach, it is better to get a small bottle and use it up within a few months. And if you’re worried about cost, opt for one of the generic brands – they’re just as good as the ones with the fancy labels and will cost you a lot less.
Buy: Powdered Detergent
If you are interested in bulk buying cleaning products, it would be a far smarter choice to buy the powdered kind, as it does stay fresh for a long time if stored properly. You can get a far better deal when buying powdered detergent or cleaners even in buying small quantities when compared to their liquid counterparts and they can keep just as effective in getting the job done.
Don’t Buy: Condiments
Condiments come with a lot of preservatives that ensure they don’t go bad, but that doesn’t mean they’ll last forever. For instance, the USDA recommends storing an open jar of mayonnaise for not more than 2 months in the fridge. This means that you’ll have to make a lot mayo sandwiches to make sure you finish that jumbo-sized jar.
Certain other condiments like ketchup can be kept for longer, for around 6 months, but they need to be kept in the fridge. Imagine how much space it would take up to store a value-sized jar of ketchup in your refrigerator. Also, imagine how much bacteria gets transferred into the jar everything time someone puts a spoon, knife, or – God forbid – their fingers into the tub!
Don’t Buy: Skincare products
Skincare products are always best bought in small quantities. Not only do they lose their effectiveness after 2-3 months of opening, but they are also a breeding ground for bacteria. Think about it; every time you stick your fingers in a tub of cream or makeup, a small number of germs is transferred onto it. If you use it up quickly, this isn’t going to do you much harm, but these bacteria can grow and become a bigger problem if left to breed for a longer period of time.
Buy: Toilet Paper and Diapers
Yes, we’ve been trolled by the internet into not hoarding toilet paper, but buying a bulk pack of it doesn’t equal hoarding. Toilet paper and diapers (if you have children, obviously) are things that you will need no matter what the situation is and they run out pretty fast too. So it makes sense to pick up a larger pack when you are shopping, especially because they cost less per item when bought in a larger quantity and you can guarantee that you will use them up pretty soon.
Don’t Buy: Whole-Wheat Flour
Flour is a staple in cuisines everywhere around the world, so it would seem to make sense to stock up on this kitchen essential, right? While you can get away with storing all-purpose flour for a slightly longer period of time, that is only because it is highly processed.
Whole wheat flour, which is far less processed, doesn’t last as long because it attracts the moisture from the air and goes musty. It can also be a breeding ground for worms and bugs. The same is the case with nut flours, which contain natural oils. So, it is always better to buy only enough of these flours to be used up within a couple of months.
Don’t Buy: Produce
It’s only common sense to not buy more fruits and vegetables than you need, but there’s another reason why you shouldn’t be buying your produce at the bulk store. Warehouse clubs tend to maintain steady pricing throughout the year, but you are far more likely to find a better deal at your neighborhood grocery store when fruits and vegetables are in season. Buying produce at the bulk store means you’re actually missing out on discounts!
Don’t Buy: Ground Coffee
If you’re someone who values the quality of a good cuppa, you can’t then go on and buy coffee in bulk. No, ground coffee will not go bad or harm you, but it will lose its freshness and aroma – which means you’re going to have to settle for a less than ideal cup of coffee just because you wanted to save a few bucks. It’s always best to buy small bags of ground coffee (look for ones that have been roasted within a couple of weeks).
Buy: Instant Coffee Powder
However, if you are an instant coffee drinker, by all means, go all out at the bulk store. Instant coffee is actually said to last much longer than it’s sell-by date – some even say up to 20 years! If you aren’t a coffee snob and just need your hit of caffeine to help you stretch the hours of the day, instant coffee can be a pretty good stand-in.