Buying in bulk can definitely be cost-effective in the long run, but sometimes it's hard to balance the potential savings with how much of an item you actually need. Sure, all that applesauce is a great deal, but are you going to eat it all before it goes bad? Probably not. Consider these suggestions next time you're at the store to make the most of your money.
What to buy:
Buying meat in family pack sizes can sometimes save you dollars off of each pound. If you can't eat it all within a few days, divide up what's left of the package into bags, and label with the date, then freeze. Fresh meat will stay good in the freezer for 9-12 months.
You'll get a substantial discount by purchasing larger containers of nuts, and they should last about 6 months. Separate into snack-sized portions, and you'll see significant savings over the prepackaged snack portions.
Toilet paper never goes bad, and the price per roll goes down a lot when you buy the larger packages. Check discount stores or Amazon for deals on your favorite brand, or try a generic store brand... they are often just as good!
Yes, the three gallon container of laundry detergent is daunting in both size and price, but it will probably last for several months. Divide the price by the number of loads in each container to find the best deal.
Newborns can use up to 10 diapers a day...that package of 50 won't last you a week. It's better to buy them in packages of 200 or more, which can take the cost per diaper down from a quarter to closer to a dime. You'll save hundreds of dollars over your baby's first year. Just be aware of when the baby might need the next size up.
What not to buy:
This is especially true of ground spices. They'll start to lose flavor after about a year, and if you have a giant jar you'll find that half of it is still left.
Oil has a shelf life of just about 6 months, so smaller quantities probably work best for most people.
Bleach starts to lose its effectiveness between 3-5 months after it's purchased, even if the bottle hasn't been opened. You're best bet is to buy just one bottle at a time.
Unless you're planning to freeze or can the leftovers, you probably won't eat it all before it goes bad.
It seems like this would last forever, but brown rice had a higher oil content than white rice, and only lasts about 6 months. Skip the largest package unless you're eating rice with most meals.