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Buying in bulk can save big bucks

By Mark Maier, Staff Writer
Published On: May 23 2011 10:01:13 AM AKDT
Updated On: Aug 13 2013 05:08:34 AM AKDT
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Heading to the local warehouse, stocking up on our favorite food staples and other products, and then returning home, hauling it all in the house and figuring out where to store it all: It seems like more trouble than it's worth for the typical shopper.

But most people could save themselves a substantial amount of time and money if they shopped wisely and purchased certain items in bulk.

Buying in bulk is fairly easy and only requires consumers to be conscientious of their own shopping habits. The key to buying in bulk is focusing on items you frequently use.

Here is a quick list to help you bulk up and save.

Food, Cooking Items

According to Rachel Paxton of PioneerThinking.com, items such as sugar, flour, spices, chocolate and peanut butter all have an incredibly long shelf life. Frequently bought food items such as grains, dried fruits, beans, pasta, nuts and dried vegetables can also be stored for an incredibly long time. Instead of paying $4 to $5 for a pound for meat every time you visit the grocery store, buy several pounds at a warehouse store it in the freezer. Most meat can be stored for 4-6 months.

Preserve What You Buy

Preservation is a major concern for most shoppers, especially with food. What's the point of bulking up on something if it's going to go bad?

It's a legitimate concern and one that is easy solvable. There are a number of cheap ways to preserve the freshness of your bulk items. Instead of recycling your family's plastic containers and glass jars, give them a good rinse and save them for storing. For some items, such as oatmeal, you can even re-use the original container. If you do have to crack the piggybank, a four-pack of four-cup Rubbermaid or Ziploc containers can be purchased for under $2.

Look Beyond Food

Food isn't the only thing that can be purchased in bulk. You can save yourself a lot of money stocking up on paper items such as paper plates, paper towels, facial tissues and toilet paper. Other items such as shampoo, toothpaste, hand soap, laundry detergents and deodorant can all be purchased cheaply online. When trying to save money, the important thing to remember is to always compare before you buy.

Baby Products

Buying in bulk can be especially helpful for new parents. With myriad baby products lining the shelves of every department store, it can be well worth sacrificing variety to stock up on basics.

Items such as baby bottles, formula and diapers are all available from a wide variety of warehouses and online shopping sites such as Diapers.com, BabiesRus.com and Newbornfree.com.

Another Way To Save

Choosing to buy crates of sale items from local grocers is not uncommon. This way, shoppers bypass the membership costs of the big bulk dealers, if not the stocking fees altogether.With labor a major contributor to items' prices, this purchasing method is worth pursuing. Shoppers who simply take the time to talk to their grocers could find themselves some real deals.

Things To Consider

Storage space: If you buy lots of stuff in bulk, you need storage space to maintain it, and this can be an issue for some. For those of us living in tiny apartments, we just don't have the room to store a year's supply of toilet paper.

Permanence: Some items don't last forever, so buying them in bulk is a poor choice if you're not going to use them frequently. This is particularly true for many foodstuffs, which simply do not last for a very long time. There's also potential concern about items in storage facing damage due to environmental concerns, such as water damage or freezer burn.

Unhealthy Food: If you just that started that diet, purchasing your favorite brand of cookies or crackers in bulk could be a costly mistake. Having a large quantity of an unhealthy product around may be too much of a temptation. If losing weight is a priority, try and stick with the staples and healthier foods in your food bulk buying.

Variety: Often, when you buy something in bulk, there is limited variety -- you use the same exact thing over and over. While this is fine for utility items, for other items (especially many food items) variety is something that's quite important -- and it's difficult to get variety in bulk.

The whole point is to balance your own shopping needs. If you find yourself constantly buying the same products every week, consider purchasing them in bulk. In time, you will find that that buying in bulk can actually be a convenient way to shop and save.