Find out which items you can safely buy in bulk to live more frugally and save money too.
It may seem counterintuitive to spend more to save money. However, when you buy in bulk, you are spending money today to save money tomorrow. By stocking up on an item you use regularly, you can usually get a better deal for the bigger purchase. You are paying less in the long run.
Besides saving money, shopping in bulk also saves you time from having to make an emergency trip to the store when you run out of something. You’ll worry less about whether you have enough of an item. Reducing the amount of packaging waste discarded into the trash is also better for the environment.
There are some items on this list that I purchased over 3 years ago and I still haven’t needed to buy more. That is just amazing.
Continue reading to see what common household items you should buy in bulk to save money.
Table of Contents
Getting Started Buying In Bulk
Many in America may be living paycheck-to-paycheck and dropping as much as $60 for a membership can be a big deal. This does not include the higher prices of products that come in larger packages.
Contrary to what some people think, you do not need a warehouse membership to start buying in bulk. This article was inspired by a recent purchase where I had scored four packages of 8-bar Dove soap marked down to $3.30 each at my local grocery store.
Planning Ahead for Bulk Buying
Many shoppers have gone to Costco and have been surprised after checking their receipts afterward to discover they had spent well over a hundred dollars at the store.
Rather than running out and getting everything at once, you should only buy what you need right now while watching the sales for even bigger savings. Yes, even the warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco have monthly sale items where their low prices are even lower.
Eventually, you will build up a stockpile of frequently used household items and your bulk shopping trips won’t be such a big hit on your wallet.
To spend less on your bulk shopping trips, start by making a shopping list. Go through the sales ads each week and write down the items you need so you don’t fall into the impulse purchase trap. Check your pantry and closets to see which commonly used things are starting to run low.
An extra tip is to write the date on the box or package to get an idea of how long it takes for your household to finish using an item. This will help with planning for future purchases.
Cleaning Supplies to Buy in Bulk
Cleaning products and supplies are some of the best things to buy in bulk. These items never expire and they are something you will use all the time.
Energy Star states the average American family does about 300 loads of laundry yearly. That adds up to a lot of laundry detergent.
The bigger the container of detergent you buy, the less it will usually cost per load.
To avoid using too much detergent, use the included cap to measure out a consistent amount for each wash. You can toss the cap into the washer with the laundry to prevent waste and keep it from becoming a sticky, gooey mess.
You will always need Dawn, Palmolive, Ajax, or your favorite brand of dish detergent unless you plan to use paper plates and plastic utensils at all your meals.
Save the household-size bottle of dish soap and refill it with the giant jug when you run out for a fraction of the cost of buying the smaller bottles of dish soap.
When you have a lot of dishes to do, running the dishwasher is more water-efficient than doing the dishes by hand.
Buying the giant packs of Finish or Cascade tabs means you will always have dishwasher detergent available.
Besides being used to scrub dishes, sponges can be used for other purposes such as cleaning countertops and sinks.
It can’t hurt to have a stockpile of sponges and scouring pads handy when an old sponge starts disintegrating.
Most frugal people will likely reach for the washable towels to mop up spills, but for the times you want to use something disposable or if you prefer paper towels, it never hurts to be prepared.
It’s hard to comparison shop when paper towel brands have different size rolls and sheet sizes. Ignore the double roll, family-size mumbo jumbo, and look at the cost per square foot.
To find the best deal, take the package cost and divide it by the total square footage of the paper towels. You will usually find this number printed on the bottom corner of the package.
At least once or several times a week, you are going to need to take out the kitchen trash. In my household, we take out the trash every day whenever we throw away food to avoid attracting bugs.
Pick up a bulk box of trash bags that will last you almost a year and you’ll spend less time worrying about running out of trash bags.
Kitchen Items and Food to Stock Up On
You do not need to have a large family or be throwing a party to buy food in bulk quantities.
It might seem crazy to buy mayonnaise or ketchup in gallon-sized containers, but there are plenty of other food items to buy in bulk without worrying about it going to waste.
Meat prices have shot up immensely in recent years. Buying meat in bulk can be a real money-saver for the budget-conscious household. All you need is some extra freezer space in your refrigerator or maybe a chest freezer in your garage.
Besides buying meat during sales or at a warehouse club, meat can be purchased in bulk directly from farms and meat processing facilities where customers can purchase a whole, half, or quarter cow or a whole or half pig.
To keep meat fresh, invest in a vacuum sealer to help prevent freezer burn.
A gallon of unopened milk will last about a week past its sell-by date in the refrigerator. That is not a very long time. However, when you freeze milk, milk can be kept in the freezer until needed.
Frozen milk can have a slight change in texture once thawed. The milk fat separates from the liquid and may be grainy, chunky, or watery. It may taste slightly different, but it is still perfectly safe to drink.
For picky eaters, thawed milk can be used for baking, oatmeal, pancakes, or cereal.
Flour and Sugar
These baking essentials are always good to have on hand. Making your own cookies, pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods at home is one way to lower your grocery bill.
Coffee drinkers may be tempted to reach for the little individual packets of sugar in the morning. Picking up the 4-pound or 10-pound bag of sugar will always get you a much better deal.
Dry pasta like spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, and macaroni can be stored in the pantry for two years or more after purchase without going bad. This makes them the perfect food item to buy in bulk if you have the space.
Dry pasta may have a “best by” date printed on the box, but it won’t really expire if you forget about it. That date is when the pasta will taste the freshest.
As long as rice is kept in a cool, dry place, uncooked white rice can last almost indefinitely. Brown rice goes through less processing and has a shelf life of about six months in the pantry.
Due to the weight, you may not want to buy rice on Amazon for delivery if you’re shooting for the best price. You can easily find 25-pound bags of rice at your favorite warehouse club. For 50 or even 100-pound bags of bulk rice, look to local Asian markets and restaurant supply stores.
Statista found that almost 74% of Americans drink coffee every day, making it a good choice to purchase in bulk when on sale. Then rotate your stockpile as you use gradually use it.
Instant coffee can have an expiration date of up to two years if stored in an unopened container.
Grounded coffee and coffee beans can be kept fresh until needed by storing them in airtight containers away from humidity, heat, and light.
Coffee can be kept fresh for years by vacuum sealing and freezing.
Eggs are a staple with a variety of uses. If you do a lot of baking, love scrambled eggs for breakfast, or like to have a hard-boiled egg in your salad, it can make sense to stock up on them when they are on sale.
According to the American Egg Board, store-bought eggs can be kept in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 weeks. When frozen, eggs can last up to a year in the freezer.
People have been eating cereal for breakfast for decades. It is healthy and quick to prepare in the morning by adding milk. You can also add fruit to make it even tastier.
Brand-name cereal is pricey when it is not on sale at the grocery store. This makes it a good buy to stock up on when you find it in bulk at the warehouse club and on sale.
Cereal can be stored in the pantry or anywhere you have a dry space. It will last for months before the best-by date and most expired cereal is still safe to eat for months later except for being a little less crispy.
Canned goods require no special preparation for storage, making it perfect for power outages or the zombie apocalypse. As long as the can is in good condition without swelling, dents, or rust, canned food can last for years past its expiration date and still be safe to eat.
Canned meats, beans, fruits, soups, and vegetables can be a fantastic option to purchase in bulk, especially in case of emergencies or when you want a quick and simple meal.
For best results, you should still rotate your canned food regularly with fresh stock.
Don’t forget your furry friends. Your pets need to eat daily too. You don’t want to find out you are out of pet food when it’s time to fill up their bowl and have to make an emergency trip to the store.
The smaller bags of pet food may be easier to handle and take home, but the larger packages cost less per pound. 4-pound bags of Science Diet dog food will set you back $5.12 per pound. Picking up the 15-pound bag is only $3.67 per pound. Opt for the 30-pound bag and you’ll only pay $2.67 per pound.
For dogs, buying their food in bulk can be a good thing too. Switching to a new brand of dog food can cause gastrointestinal issues until they get used to the new food.
Aluminum foil has a wide variety of uses. Use it to wrap food when baking or grilling to keep in moisture, line your stove’s drip pans or bakeware for easy cleanup, wrap up leftovers, or make a disposable grill pan.
Plastic bags come in all sorts of sizes. Sandwich bags can be used for packing snacks and gallon freezer bags can be used to keep things fresh in the freezer.
Besides food, Ziplock bags can be used to keep loose items organized.
Ziplock and sandwich bags may be convenient, but to be more frugal, you can use plastic wrap instead of reaching for a sandwich bag. Plastic wrap is also great for keeping a whole plate of food fresh before putting it in the fridge or wrapping odd-shaped objects such as watermelons.
Rather than getting the tiny 200 sq ft. box from your regular grocery store, you can find 3000 sq ft. boxes of plastic wrap at your favorite warehouse club. Some people have said they have been using their Costco plastic wrap for almost a decade.
Health and Toiletries to Buy in Bulk
Items in this category are some of the best products to buy in bulk. Many of these products do not expire or have an expiration date that spans years.
You will always use the toiletries you buy over time because they are household essentials.
Dentists recommend that you replace your toothbrush every 3 months. That is four toothbrushes per person per year. That adds up to a few hundred toothbrushes for each person during their lifetime.
Considering how many toothbrushes a family goes through, you can save a lot of money over the years by buying them in bulk.
It is also a good idea to have an extra toothbrush in the bathroom drawer for overnight guests.
Once your old toothbrushes have reached the end of their usefulness, they can still be used for scrubbing and cleaning around the household. I keep my old toothbrushes to clean the chain on my motorcycle and toss them after each use.
Hopefully, you are brushing your teeth twice a day. You only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for the job.
Assume the average-sized tube of toothpaste lasts 3 to 4 months. You will go through three to four tubes of toothpaste a year. Typically, toothpaste has an expiration date of two years from manufacture.
Figure out how many tubes of toothpaste you will need for your family and stock up. Toothpaste is cheap compared to the cost of dental work.
As evident during the recent Great Toilet Paper Shortage, everyone needs toilet paper. No matter how much you buy, it will eventually be used. This makes it a good item to buy when it goes on sale.
Use the Toilet Paper Calculator to estimate how long your stash of toilet paper will last.
Similar to paper towels, not all packages of toilet paper are the same. You can find four packs of toilet paper at the dollar store. But you may discover they are not as cost-effective per sheet as the bigger rolls from the warehouse club.
Vitamins are something you tend to take daily. Get a better deal by buying multivitamins and supplements in bigger bottles.
There are 365 days in a year. Buy that 500 tablet bottle from Costco or Sam’s Club and you won’t have to worry about vitamins for almost 16 months.
Have your doctor write you a prescription for 90 days at a time instead of 30 days with refills the next time you are at the doctor’s office. This is particularly effective for daily medications for common conditions such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and heartburn.
According to GoodRx, 30 tablets of Metformin, a medication used for Type 2 Diabetes is about $12 using their discount coupon. If you get a prescription for 180 tablets, your price is only $15. You get 6x more tablets for just $3 more.
Shampoo and Conditioner
Unless you go bald, you will be washing your hair for decades. Stop worrying about running out of shampoo by purchasing larger-sized hair care products. Stock up on shampoo and conditioner when it’s a good deal.
When you take a shower, you use soap. When you wash your hands, you use soap. You likely have a bar of soap next to all your sinks and an additional bar in the shower.
Store-bought soap can last two years or more. Handmade soap may only last a year because of the oil used in the soapmaking process. As long as the soap still lathers properly and doesn’t smell rancid or look moldy, it is likely still good.
Shaving is a personal grooming activity you will do weekly if not daily for decades. To avoid razor burn and skin irritation, you will want to avoid using dull and dirty razor blades.
Buying razors in bulk is a good way to save money. As long as your supply of razors is kept in a cool, dry place, they will still be good and sharp decades later.
To save even more money, switch to a double-edge safety razor instead of using multi-blade cartridge razors.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Tampons and sanitary pads are one product you will always want to have on hand for that time of the month.
These items do not take up much space. Buy the larger box and keep some handy in your purse, your car, and your desk at work so they are readily available when needed.
In the heat of the moment, you do not want to reach for a condom only to find that you are out. Making a run to the convenience store is going to ruin the moment, nor do you want to seem unprepared. Going without can be a costly mistake.
You can find bulk packages of condoms in 50 or 100 counts for less than a quarter each.
Condoms will usually have an expiration date of at least two years if you keep them in a cool place out of the sun and heat.
Diapers and baby wipes will be a big expense until you get your baby potty trained.
Buying diapers in bulk is a good way to save some money. This is especially important since having a newborn means lots of other costs you will need to consider.
Other Household Items You Might Need
You should have these random things readily available around the house because they will always come in handy should you need them.
Car manufacturers recommend that you change your oil at least once a year or between 5,000 and 10,000 miles. Most cars will use between one gallon and two gallons of oil for each oil change.
If you prefer to change your own oil, keep an eye out for the sales. Shell offers a rebate for Rotella motor oil a couple of times a year and Costco’s Kirkland motor oil goes on sale occasionally.
Considering that petroleum has been sitting underground for millions of years, extra motor oil should have no problem sitting on the shelf for a few more years.
Usually, the best kinds of batteries to buy are rechargeable batteries that you can recharge over and over when they die.
But for some electronic devices such as clocks, thermostats, smoke detectors, and remote controls, you might want to continue using disposable batteries. Having a stash of batteries on hand can be convenient when the power goes out and you need a flashlight.
Christmas Cards and Wrapping Paper
The end-of-season sales when holiday items are on sale for 50% or more off is the best time to stock up for the future.
Pick up enough greeting cards and wrapping paper to last you for several years and stop worrying about not having them available when the holiday season rolls around again and you are busy with the holidays.
Skip the Christmas-themed wrapper paper and you will be able to use it for other occasions such as birthdays, retirement parties, baby showers, and other celebrations.
Puppy Pads and Kitty Litter
Puppy pads are something you’ll use daily if your dog needs to use them for the bathroom. Don’t run out and risk having a big mess to clean up.
Kitty litter is another common item you don’t think about but will always need when you have a cat.
Dog Poop Bags
Do not be that dog owner who doesn’t pick up their pet’s waste. Not only will you be helping the environment and preventing the spread of disease, your neighbors will thank you when they go to mow their lawns.
Buy them by the hundreds or thousands so you’ll always have them available when you take your dog out for a walk.
Socks and Underwear
You can never have too many pairs of underwear and socks. Perhaps you have a favorite brand. Or maybe you hate matching up socks after washing them.
When you buy them in bulk, your socks can be paired quickly after laundry since they are all the same.
Remember, just because something can be purchased in bulk doesn’t mean it is a good deal. You do not want to buy 50 bottles of soda because they are on sale only to discover they have gone flat by the time you start drinking them.
Sometimes buying the bigger size of what is available can just as cost-effective. You can find out which is the best deal by looking at the price tag and comparing the unit price between items.
These are some of the items that can be safely purchased in bulk. What other items do you use regularly that you like to buy in bulk?