Buying in bulk is a sound strategy when you want to trim your expenses but don’t want to give up the things you want or need. But it also has its downsides. Not only do you need the space to store large quantities, but you can easily find yourself with too much stuff that you’ll never actually use. Before your next trip to the warehouse, review the list below for items you should avoid buying in bulk.
1. Nuts, Seeds and Whole Grains
Nuts, seeds, and whole grains are a healthy source of important micro and macronutrients. If you eat them in moderation, they can be a welcome addition to your diet. However, they might not be the best addition to your kitchen pantry. Whole grains, seeds, nuts, and even brown rice contain natural oils. These oils will, with time, go rancid. Having a little stockpile won’t hurt, especially when it comes to whole grains you eat every day. But you should make sure that you buy only what you can consume within six months or less.
Detergent, whether it’s for dishes or laundry, isn’t a product that will go bad like food. However, it will start to lose its effectiveness after a while. With dishwasher detergent, you have three months before it starts becoming less effective. With laundry detergent, the period is between six months and a year. If you wash your dishes by hand, you can stock up some more because the handwashing detergent has a longer lifespan.
Spices seem like no-brainer items for buying in bulk. They are fairly expensive, so getting a good deal on them looks attractive. And they are not perishable, so you don’t have to worry they will go bad. However, spices don’t keep their flavor for too long. The longer you have them, the less spicy they become. Getting six-months’ worth of spices should suffice.
Condiments are, for the most part, safe to store as long as you don’t open them. However, you should be aware that not all condiments are the same. Mayonnaise, for example, shouldn’t be stored for more than a couple of months. Vinegar, on the other hand, can spend a lot of time on the shelf if you store it properly. Most condiments are somewhere between the two extremes, so you shouldn’t buy too much of them.
Sunscreen is a product that can last for several years if you store it well. That makes it a good product to buy in bulk, at least for some people. If you live somewhere when applying sunscreen is a daily, or at least a weekly, occurrence, then buy away. For most, however, sunscreen is something that's used on vacation and isn't necessary to stockpile.
Unless you have a large family, buying fruits and vegetables in bulk will be a waste of money. It can be tempting to pick up that giant bag of salad for such a great price but realistically, are you going to eat 2 pounds of mixed salad in 3-5 days? Instead, save money on produce when you buy in-season fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store or opt for frozen items.
In short, buying in bulk can be a great way to cut costs on frequently used items. However, there are a few that don't make sense in the long run as they will expire or lose effectiveness before you have the chance to use it. If you can't pass up an advertised deal for any of the items on this list, call a friend or family member and ask if they would want to split the package with you. This way, you can still enjoy the deal and the product without the risk.