March 28, 2013 | By: Roxanne Ramedani

Understanding the bulk of it.

Monthly Budget advice: Manage your spending by buying in bulk.

I've been eating healthy for a few months now and for some strange reason my frugal “spidey senses” have doubled during this transition. I remember vowing to myself not to repeat the same meal day after day and to keep this journey as exciting as can be. So I started experimenting with different recipes and flavours and making note of those I loved. Lucky for me there's a bulk store very close to where I work where I often go and buy very small (but just the right amount) portions of spices, nuts, grains, cereals, dried fruits, flours, pastas, etc. Why buy a big bag of cumin at the grocery store when you can get a couple table spoons for 30-40 cents at the bulk store? I know I won't be using some of these spices consistently so there's no point in me buying more than I need. I'd also get the supplies for my healthy snack bags from the bulk store. I find myself getting creative with my combinations and it's very affordable.

With that said, there are a few do's or don'ts to buying in bulk and by selecting the right stores when planning your monthly budget you can save more and achieve your financial goals faster.

There are two kinds of bulk stores. There are the big warehouse clubs like Sam's Club and Costco which offer major discounts to customers on several name-brand and high-quality foods and household goods but also require an annual membership fee and there are small bulk good stores like Bulk Barn and Bulk Village that allow customers to buy as little or as much as they want in dried goods like flours, grains, spices, candies, etc.

If you’re shopping at the warehouse stores here’s what you should avoid and what you should purchase.

Number one rule: Avoid perishable goods. Unless you’re feeding a family of 14 or hosting a party, anything perishable should be bought at regular grocery stores. The only exception to this is meat.

Don't purchase new products before testing first. Avoid purchasing huge supplies of a product you have never tried before no matter how cheap or how pretty that packaging looks! Don't fall for the bulk trap!

Purchase Meats. Meat tends to freeze well. If your family does eat meat then it would be a perfect money saving tip to purchase meat on sale and SAFELY seal and freeze it.  Also, purchase meats you actually consume regularly, there’s no point in stocking up on turkey or pork if you only have it a few times a year.

Purchase storage items, such as foil, freezer bags and Tupperware in bulk. It's good and cheaper to buy storage products, plus how else are you going to store all that meat?

Purchase toilet paper. Toilet paper is the perfect thing to purchase in bulk considering you will always need some and it doesn’t go bad! The only thing to consider is how much space you have available to store the toilet paper. You wouldn’t want to start stocking up on toilet paper but having to keep it in your dining room.

Purchase dog food and treats. You can always find them in huge bags at bargain prices.  Just be careful that you don't buy dog food with a soon approaching expiration date.

Purchase laundry detergent. The more you buy of this, the cheaper each load becomes and in order to get the most for your money, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS and don’t overuse. If it says 240 loads, you should be able to get 240 loads of clean laundry.

Now for smaller bulk purchases (ironic isn’t it?) here’s what you should be purchasing at the smaller bulk stores.

Spices. Like I mentioned earlier, if you’re only going to try a new recipe out, don’t buy the 1kg bag of smoke paprika or the 500g jar of cumin from the warehouse stores; purchase just as much as you need and if you like the recipe and the spices, then hit up the warehouse stores.

Snacks. You can get a variety of different healthy and less healthy snacks at the bulk barns & villages. And the best part is you can mix and match. If something isn’t to your liking you’re not stuck with a year’s supply.

Different kinds of flours/grains. Up until a few months ago, I wasn’t even aware of the different types of flours and grains that are available. And when you're experimenting with different diets, this can be music to your ears! I bought a bit of coconut flour, almond flour, quinoa flour, gluten free and with gluten, whole wheat, rice and pastas, etc. This way I can experiment without hurting my wallet and I can then purchase the stuff I really like in bulk from the warehouse stores.

And that’s that! I hope this list helps you budget your money more effectively and please feel free to mention anything I may have missed! Happy bulking!


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