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20 Things You Should Buy in Bulk (and 20 You Shouldn't)

Buy This: Toilet Paper

Buying toilet paper in bulk is a great way to save some money, especially if you buy a brand name or a specific type of toilet paper. The price per square foot drops quite a bit when you get a large pack versus the ones from the grocery store. 

Not That: Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds have a lot of natural oils. It makes them healthy, but it also makes them go bad faster than you may want. By the time you get through half of your nuts and seeds, they’ll probably end up going rancid. 

Buy This: Meat

Meat is a great thing to buy in bulk if you have a large freezer. Buying meat in bulk is an ideal plan if you have a large family, mostly since it can take up a large portion of your grocery budget. Just make sure that you freeze the meat properly, or you’ll end up with a load of freezer-burnt food. 

Not That: Flour

Unless you do a ton of baking, avoid buying flour in bulk. Self-rising flour has a shelf-life of around four to six months, and all-purpose flour lasts for six to eight months. Whole grain flour, like whole wheat, has more oils and can develop a rancid smell as it goes bad.

Buy This: White Rice

White rice is a steal to buy in bulk. If you keep it in an air-tight container, white rice has a ridiculously long shelf-date of 30 years. Not to mention, white rice is super cheap so buying it in bulk doesn’t break the bank. 

Not That: Brown Rice

Brown rice doesn’t share the same luxury as white rice. Like every other whole grain, brown rice has a lot of oils. It makes the food extremely healthy for you, but it also puts it at risk of going bad faster. Brown rice is only good for four to six months after opening.

Buy This: Laundry Detergent

A family can go through laundry detergent like newborns will diapers. Thankfully, laundry detergent is a perfect thing to buy in bulk. As long as you don’t mind dealing with a giant container of soap, try to find sales so you can get the most bang for your buck.

Not That: Sunscreen

Sunscreen isn’t something to mess around with. Sunscreen begins to lose effectiveness over time, which puts you and your family at risk for sun damage. Don’t get burned and increase your risk of skin cancer to save a little money. Make sure to replace your sunscreen every three years, at a minimum.

Buy This: Toothpaste

Toothpaste isn’t too cheap, but you can cut your costs by buying in bulk. One individual tube of toothpaste is much more than the two- or three-pack. You’re paying more up-front, but you’re spending less in the long run. 

Not That: Liquid Bleach

Liquid bleach has a shelf-life! This fact surprised us quite a bit. Liquid bleach only lasts about six months before it starts to lose potency. If you’re looking for something that lasts a long time, powdered bleach can be kept for an unlimited amount of time.

Buy This: Trash Bags

Trash bags don’t take up a lot of space, and they don’t expire, making it one of the best things you can buy in bulk. We suggest looking for a sale as the price per bag may not be lower when you pay full price in bulk. However, coupons and sales definitely make buying in bulk a great deal.

Not That: Condiments

Condiments are filled with tons of preservatives, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go bad. Mayo should be used within two months of opening. Catsup lasts six months in the fridge, and mustard should be consumed within two months of opening. If you keep the package in the pantry unopened, it can last a full year.

Buy This: Hand Soap

Too much soap is rarely a bad thing. Buying it in bulk could save you a ton of money and avoid the awkward situation of having to use your dish soap for your hands when you run out. We all know it takes forever to wash off dish soap.

Not That: Skincare Creams

Buying a huge tub of skin cream may seem like a good deal but dipping into the same jar for a long time increases the risk of bacterial contamination. Not to mention, cosmetics can have a short lifespan. Depending on how preservative-free the product is, it may only last six months.

Buy This: Pasta

As long as pasta is stored correctly, you can keep it in your pantry for up to two years. If you keep your pasta sealed in its original container, it's possible to keep it past the two-year mark. Just make sure to seal it in an air-tight container once the packaging has been opened.

Not That: Bread

It goes without saying that bread can go bad pretty quick. Unless you’re feeding a small army (or a family that eats like a small army), you’re not going to make it all the way through the carb-y goodness before it spoils.

Buy This: Lightbulbs

Lightbulbs don’t go bad, and you’ll never know when you need more. Buying them in bulk will save you some money. It’ll also make sure you have the same wattage all over the house. Nothing is worse than having a 30-watt bulb next to a 60-watt in one fixture.

Not That: Coffee

Even if you aren’t a coffee connoisseur, you may not want to buy coffee in bulk. The freshest coffee will last about two weeks after being roasted. That being said, beans still last nine months, but ground coffee should be brewed within a few months of being ground. 

Buy This: Cereal

Thanks to the rising cost of wheat, cereal is increasing in price. Buying in bulk can save you quite a bit of money. Depending on which cereal you buy, you could spend up to twice as much at your local grocery store.

Not That: Ground Spices

Unless you use the spice every single day, consider buying it whole or avoiding ground spices all together. After about a year, spices lose their potency. However, grinding them yourself will keep them fresher much longer.

Buy This: Paper Towels

Paper towels are another thing that you can buy in bulk because it doesn’t ruin. Not to mention, it’s cheaper by the foot to purchase them in a huge pack. Paper towels often go on sale, too, so look for the best price before committing.

Not That: Cooking Oil

Everyone uses oil whether they’re frying or roasting. Vegetable oil expires the quickest at six to twelve months. Canola and olive oil, when stored correctly, can last up to two years. The trick to that is that you should keep it in a dry, cool place in a dark bottle. If your oil gets dark or begins to smell, toss it. 

Buy This: School and Office Supplies

Back-to-school shopping puts a tremendous dent in your bank account, but you can save yourself the cash by buying in bulk when everything goes on sale. Wait until there are excess supplies and buy as many as you’ll need for a few years. You can never have too many backup pens.

Not That: Produce

Fruit is pretty cheap at bulk stores, but that doesn’t mean it’s a better deal. If you follow what’s in season, you can land some phenomenal sales at your grocery store. Even local farmer’s markets will have better deals than bulk stores.

Buy This: Bottled Water

Never buy a bottle of water on its own. A single bottle can cost $1.30, but a huge pack can cost as little as $5. Even buying the smaller packages of bottled water won’t save you as much as the bulk brand. Make sure to compare the price per bottle for the best deal.

Not That: Soda

Buying huge bulk deals of soda may seem like a deal, but it actually costs you more per can. Big box stores bump up the price, so they can make a larger profit. Grocery stores usually have pretty good deals on soda. 

Buy This: Canned Foods

Canned food is notorious for lasting a long time, so it’s a given to buy in bulk. Things like canned soup and tuna are 30% cheaper when you buy at Sam's Club or Costco. Plus, you can use some cans in several dishes on a regular basis, like canned tomatoes.  

Not That: Eggs

Even if you eat a lot of eggs, it isn’t best to buy them in bulk. A 36-pack of eggs is more expensive (per egg) compared to a dozen. Plus, you’ll have to polish off all the eggs in three to five weeks.

Buy This: Aluminum Foil

Fact: you can never have enough aluminum foil. Fact: it’s cheaper to buy aluminum foil in bulk. There’s about a 30% price difference when you get down to the nitty gritty and compare the price per foot. A few cents less per foot may not seem like much, but it certainly adds up. 

Not That: Over-the-Counter Medication

That bulk bottle of Tylenol is tempting, but it’s better to stick to the smaller bottles. Most families don’t finish off the giant bulk bottles of OTC medication, meaning they could be taking something that’s expired and dangerous. To save money, purchase generic versions of the drug. 

Buy This: Batteries

You never want to run out of batteries. Since they don’t expire, they’re a great thing to buy in bulk. They’re expensive when you buy a lot of them at once, so wait until they’re on sale before scooping up those AAs or AAAs.

Not This: Dried Fruit

Unless you love to chow down on a ton of dried fruit, it may be best to purchase smaller amounts. Dried fruit only lasts about 12 months when it’s stored in a cool, dry place.

Buy This: Diapers

If you’re still buying diapers, try to buy them in bulk. First of all, you won’t run out of diapers at the worst possible time. Second, you’ll end up spending a lot less. As long as you stick to generic, you could be spending as little as a few pennies per diaper.

Not This: Veggie Chips

Just because veggie chips have less moisture doesn’t mean they have zero moisture. It also doesn’t mean it won’t expire. Veggie chips are good for around six months when you buy them in bulk. You’ll want to purchase veggie chips in an airtight bag or container for maximum freshness. 

Buy This: Alcohol

Alcohol only gets better with age, and bulk stores actually have pretty dang good booze. Instead of paying $10 at a bar for a watered-down drink or jacked-up prices from a liquor store, browse your local Sam’s Club or Costco.

Not This: Peanut Butter

Peanut butter may seem as though it’ll last forever, but the natural oils you see on top of the jar make it expire pretty quick. Without breaking the seal, peanut butter will last around six to nine months. However, it goes bad after two to three months after opening.

Buy This: Plastic Storage Bags

Why spend a ton of money on plastic storage bags at your local grocery store? You can pick up some off-brand zipper bags from a bulk store and save a ton of money. You shouldn’t be spending more than a few cents for something you’ll end up tossing.

Not This: Candy and Chocolate

This one isn’t on the list because it’s a bad deal. Instead, it’s that it may cause bad eating habits. Buying food in bulk encourages people to eat more of it. That means, having large amounts of sweets in the house could make it easier to eat more than you usually would.

Buy This: Party Supplies

The first thing you may do for a party is swing by the dollar store. Well, you may be able to get a better deal when you purchase paper plates and plastic cups in bulk. You’ll have plenty for your guests, and you may get more bang for your buck.

Not This: Milk

This one is hit or miss, but usually, a gallon of milk is cheaper at your local grocery store. Many grocery stores are even trying to compete with places like Costco and Sam’s Club by lowering the cost of milk per gallon.