15 Items You Should Always Buy in Bulk

It seems counterproductive to spend more in order to save more, but that’s what buying in bulk is all about.

You purchase a large volume of one product that you know you’ll use no matter what, and in exchange you get a price break.

And there’s good reason to think about ways to save on your grocery bill. Food prices are rising. In fact, according to the latest Food Price Outlook survey from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, grocery store prices are expected to increase between 1.5% and 2.5% in 2022 (meanwhile, restaurant purchases are poised to increase between 3% and 4%).

So if you’re off to the grocery store or warehouse club, you may want to add these items to your buy-in-bulk shopping list.

[Read: 20 Cheap Foods to Buy When You’re Broke.]

— Baking staples.

— Breakfast items.

— Canned food.

— Cheese.

— Cleaning supplies.

— Diapers and wipes.

— Food storage bags.

— Meat.

— Olive oil.

— Paper products.

— Pasta.

— Pet food.

— Protein bars.

— Snacks.

— Toiletries.

Baking Staples

If you make a lot of items from scratch, stock up on baking supplies like sugar, flour and baking soda, says Michelle Keldgord, a, Redlands, California-based food blogger and co-founder of BakingHow.com. “These ingredients can easily last for up to a year or longer in the pantry. Just make sure they’re stored in secured, airtight containers.”

Because she bakes so often, Keldgord says she also buys eggs in bulk — and freezes them, too.

“The best way to freeze is to break open two or three into an airtight container. Sprinkle with salt to stabilize the eggs. Freeze for up to six months, but let them thaw entirely before using,” Keldgord says.

If you’re really committed to baking and have room in your freezer, you can even freeze milk, Keldgord says.

“Milk can be in the freezer for up to six months,” she says. “I store them in small batches and take them out as needed. It works like a charm whether you want cereal or to make biscuits.”

Breakfast Items

Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com, a shopping comparison site, gives a vote to buying certain breakfast items in bulk.

“Specifically things like oatmeal, cereal, individually wrapped breakfast pastries, etc. All those should be shelf-stable for quite a while so you won’t have to worry about finishing them in a timely manner,” Ramhold says. “The only downside to buying these kinds of things in bulk is that you’ll want to make sure your household is OK with having a ton of one flavor on hand and won’t get sick of eating the same thing for breakfast for long stretches.”

Canned Foods

OK, now we’re talking. You don’t need a freezer and can store canned foods just about anywhere.

“Canned foods like beans, pasta sauce, tuna and soups … are always handy to have and help make quick and cheap meals for your family, if you’re ever looking for something last-minute,” says Victoria Cornell, a Kitchener, Ontario-based blogger who writes MotherhoodLifeBalance.com.

Cornell has three kids from ages 3 to 14 and does a lot of bulk food shopping.

She also points out that canned foods have a good shelf life.

According to the USDA, “Most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition — no rust, dents or swelling. Packaged foods, such as cereal, pasta, cookies, will be safe past the best by date, although they may eventually become stale or develop an off flavor.”

So stock up on those canned goods, as long as you know you’ll get around to using them sooner or later.

Cheese

Although you need to be careful about buying some dairy items in bulk due to their expiration dates, buying blocks of cheese in bulk can be a good way to save on this meal staple — provided you have a freezer where you can store excess that you won’t need for a while.

[See: How to Save Money When Grocery Shopping on a Budget.]

Cleaning Supplies

There are all sorts of items — laundry and dishwasher detergent, sponges and microfiber cloths — that lend themselves well to bulk-buying.

Some things, like laundry detergent, can actually lose their effectiveness over time, but generally, they don’t expire in the way produce does.

Still, you want to shop strategically. Be familiar with any brand before buying a ton of it. For instance, you may come to regret buying a multipack of laundry detergent that has 96 loads in each bottle if you learn one of your kids is allergic to it.

Diapers and Wipes

Babies are expensive, as all parents know: The USDA’s most recent report stating the average cost of raising a child to adulthood, not including college expenses, was $233,610 for a child born in 2015. When adjusted for inflation, the number jumps to $267,233 in 2021 dollars, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Diapers and wipes are a big expense, so consider buying them in bulk. Amazon has a “subscribe and save” option for 5% off the regular price of diapers; if you subscribe to five products on Amazon, you can save 20% off bulk orders.

Target also has a free shipping diaper plan where you’ll save 5%, and there are many other subscription plans out there. For instance, the brand Honest offers a diaper subscription plan in which you’ll save 17% if you bundle a subscription for diapers and wipes together.

Food Storage Bags

Of course, an environmentally friendly and cost-effective idea is to opt for reusable bags. But you’ll find food storage bags of all kinds are a deal for bulk shoppers.

“Stores like Costco will usually have packages of things like Ziploc bags with a variety of sizes, or even multipacks of boxes of popular sizes like gallon bags,” Ramhold says. “If you do a lot of meal planning or store leftovers in the freezer, then buying these in bulk can really save you money.”

Meat

According to the 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure survey, the most recent data available, the average household spent $980 on meat eaten at home in one year.

Keldgord says she recommends buying meat in bulk, “especially if it is on sale,” and if you have a deep freezer to store it in.

“Meat is an easy way to add nutrients and protein to any meal. Having a variety opens you up to more meals, which is always fun,” Keldgord says.

Her favorite meats to buy in bulk are steak, poultry and pork because they last the longest.

“I store certain fish with success, too, such as salmon and tilapia. As long as the meats are placed in a single layer and secured using a double wrap of foil and parchment paper — or wax paper — they can last up to a year or more, although the longer they’re stored, the less fresh they’ll taste.”

Keldgord adds, “I recently purchased a vacuum-sealing machine which has been great for keeping meats at peak quality. It’s a great investment.”

Olive Oil

If you cook with olive oil often, buying a large container can make financial sense. The shelf life of olive oil is usually around 18 to 24 months if stored correctly.

Paper Products

Should you buy toilet paper or paper towels in large quantities? It’s a pretty easy call.

“These items do not have an expiration date and will be used, so they’re great to buy in bulk to save you time and money,” Cornell says.

Pasta

Pasta is a versatile meal staple to buy in bulk, according to Ramhold. “This can include things like ramen, but it doesn’t have to be,” she says. “Regular dried pasta can be purchased in bulk at most warehouse stores, and can make a quick and easy meal any time. And since it’s dried, you won’t have to worry about it spoiling.”

Pet Food

Pet food can be expensive, especially some of the top-grade brands. According to the 2020 Cost of Dog Food Study from WoofWhiskers.com, the average price for a bag of dog food dropped by $2, which sounds great, but the average price per pound went up from $2.19 to $2.22, and so it just suggests that manufacturers are offering lower prices but smaller bag sizes.

Still, buying in bulk should, in the long run, save you money on pet food.

[Read: How to Get the Best Prices on Everything, Every Time You Shop.]

Protein Bars

Remember what the USDA said about most shelf-stable foods being safe indefinitely? If there’s a sale on protein bars, and members of your household eat them regularly, this is a good item to purchase in bulk.

Snacks

Again, the shelf life is generally pretty good on items like chips, pretzels and trail mix. You just may want to make sure that buying snacks in bulk doesn’t make it easy to increase your intake of unhealthy foods.

Even if your willpower functions perfectly fine, think strategically when it comes to buying snacks in bulk. If you buy a giant bag of chips, once you open it, they can become stale if you don’t reseal it well.

Also aim to buy a variety of snacks in bulk. Cornell says she changes up the school snacks she buys in bulk for her kids, so that they won’t get sick of them.

Toiletries

Buying soap, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner in bulk makes a lot of sense. These products don’t have expiration dates, though some experts suggest certain products, like shampoo, can become less effective after, say, five years on the shelf.

And when it comes to buying in bulk, the goal shouldn’t be to stock up so much that you’ll end up on an episode of the TV series “Hoarders.” You’re trying to save money. If you buy so many things in bulk that you need a self-storage locker to hold it all, you’re definitely not saving money.

More from U.S. News

35 Ways to Save Money

20 Cheap Foods to Buy When You’re Broke

How to Save Money When Grocery Shopping on a Budget

15 Items You Should Always Buy in Bulk originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 10/27/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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