Money Talks, So Should You

Q&A: Does buying food in bulk save you money?

Tracy St. John
by Tracy St. John, The Garrett Network  (@FinancialAvenue)

Most of us prefer to pay as little as possible for food, but do we really spend the time looking at the prices? If you shop regularly, you become familiar with prices of food you consistently buy, but there are many food items that you may not purchase regularly. These may include items that you buy in bulk, which brings up the question of whether or not you save money doing so.

Answer? You can save money when buying in bulk, but only if you follow these guidelines:

WATCH: How to save money with coupons

• Always compare prices. Before buying food, compare the size and quantity of the products you wish to purchase to single purchase prices and brands; they are not always the same.

• Ask yourself, “Do I have time in the next day or two to prepare the food?” If your answer is yes, then you can save money. For example, my sister will buy hamburger in bulk for her family. As soon as she gets home from the store, she separates the meet into 1 – 2 pound freezer bags and then puts them in the freezer. If food sits in the fridge for days, you can end up throwing it out and wasting money.

• Don’t buy in bulk just because it’s a good deal or a good price. I have spent days in my grandmother's, and now mother’s, pantry throwing out a lot of food because it is more than a year or two past the expiration date. Make sure you can eat the quantity you buy within a reasonable amount of time.

• Be aware of your purchases. You should recognize whether you prefer convenience or are serious about saving money. When you go to a store such as a Sam’s or Costco, will you tend to buy other products while you are there because of convenience? That is where you might pay more, because “it’s right there.”

READ: Best retail return policies

There are a lot of pros to buying food in bulk if you know your prices and whether you have time to prepare the food items. One possibility is to find a friend or relative to share purchases for items that are less expensive in bulk but more than you can possibly use.

Be realistic when shopping for food in bulk so that it works for you and your budget.

Related video

Kathy Spencer shares the truth about buying in bulk and how to really save money.

Tagline Logo

Tracy St. John is the founder of Financial Avenues, LLC, a Fee-Only financial planning and investment advisory firm. She obtained her Masters Degree in Family Financial Planning as well as a Certificate in Personal Financial Planning through Kansas State University.