How to Buy in Bulk for One
Shopping at warehouse stores can save a lot of money, but if you're only feeding one or two people, do you really need a dozen boxes of oatmeal or 20 pounds of potatoes? Here are four ideas for making bulk shopping work for you, even if you don't have a house full of people.
1. Use your freezer.
Chest freezers aren't just for large households. Even if you live alone, consider investing in a freezer because it will allow you to make bulk purchases and keep all kinds of food fresh long beyond the "use by" date on the package. Beyond fruits, vegetables and meats, you can even freeze flour, baking mix, cornmeal, bread and milk. So buy extras of these items when they're on sale and freeze them until you need them.
2. Start a food co-op.
Find three to five other individuals or couples at work or in your building who also want to benefit from buying in bulk, says Matt Kelly, owner of Momentum Personal Finance Coaching. Each member of the club, also known as a food cooperative, must agree to prepare a meal one day each week that will be large enough to feed every household in the group. "When it's your turn to cook, you prepare the meal and deliver individually packaged portions to your club members," Kelly says. "This allows for buying in bulk and less time cooking."
A variation is to bring together a group of friends a couple of times each month for a frozen food exchange, says Clarissa Hobson, senior financial planning advisor at Carnick and Company in Colorado Springs, Colo. "Everyone makes one large recipe and divvies it up into single-serving portions," she says. "This way, you can still buy in bulk for your recipe, but you end up with a variety of dinners."
3. Start a buying club.
You can partner with friends to take advantage of bulk purchases of items like paper towels, toilet paper and toothpaste, Hobson says. It's not necessary for everyone to have a membership to the local Sam's Club or Costco; just share one membership, pool funds, buy in bulk and then divide up the purchases.
4. Get creative with storage.
If you'd rather keep the whole discounted bundle for yourself, rethink your home's storage capabilities. Donna Freedman, who blogs about frugality at Get Rich Slowly, recommends storing extra foodstuffs and household goods bought at discount prices in under-bed boxes, in the space between the ceiling and the tops of the kitchen cabinets, under the furniture and in the dishwasher -- if you wash dishes by hand.
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