What’s Good To Buy In Bulk? And When Is It Not Cost Effective?

8November 2021

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) – Inflation and supply-chain issues have forced grocery shoppers to dig deeper into their wallets. But there’s one, age-old tactic to save money.

We wanted to know: When should we buy in bulk? And when might it not be cost effective?

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Jeff Wagner learned which products have the best savings.

What drives you to buy in bulk?

“I always go according to price,” said Pam Massey as she loaded up her cart at Cub Foods in St. Louis Park.

“When I’m preparing a meal for a large group of people,” added Rosalyn.

“You don’t have to repurchase frequently,” Doug Normeyer pointed out.

MagnifyMoney did a cost analysis of bulk purchases to see where people can get the best bang for their buck.

Batteries topped the list. A 40-pack of Duracell AA costs $17.99, which breaks down to $0.45 per battery. An 8-pack costs $7.47, but each battery is $0.93. Buying in bulk saves 52% per battery.

Bottled water was similar. A 24-pack of 365 Spring Water costs $3.49, with a total of 405.6 ounces of water, at a rate of $0.01 per ounce. A single bottle costs $0.79 for 50.7 ounces of water, at a rate of $0.02 per ounce. That’s a savings for 50% when purchased in bulk.

Of the 20 products the website analyzed, shoppers saved an average of 25% by going bulk. The only product that didn’t produce a cost savings was toilet paper.

What can be a downside to buying in bulk?

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“The cost,” said Rosalyn, referencing how bulk products carry a higher price tag.

Expiration dates also become more important when purchasing such a large amount. You might save money on the purchase, but you lose it if you end up throwing away expired food.

“I don’t want to buy more if it’s only going to spoil and not going to use it,” Massey said.

If you want some serious bulk, you’ve also got to pay just to get into some stores.

The annual membership fee for Sam’s Club starts at $45 while Costco is $60.

Massey shares a membership with her daughter, meaning they split the annual fee. There’s also benefits to being a member, such as rebates, that can balance out the fee.

“(My daughter) just got her rebate check that will more than pay for her membership, and she will have money left over to be able to buy some products,” Massey said.

Other items worth buying in bulk include meat, which can be frozen to lengthen its lifespan. Non-perishables will prevent you from worrying about expiration dates.

And make sure it’s an item you know you’re going to consistently use, like paper products, or in the case of parents, diapers.

“(Diapers are) one thing that you can store downstairs in storage until you need that package. So it’s worth it,” Massey said.

Food storage bags and pet food are often listed as items worth buying in bulk, as well as toiletries and cleaning supplies.

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