Are you ready to stop wasting money on the stuff you need? Since you have to buy it, you should get the best deal and save that money for something better. Buying in bulk used to make me think of shows like Hoarders or Extreme Couponing, and neither of those vibe with my lifestyle. But there are some aspects of adulting that are hard to avoid. Now I am responsible for:
- keeping the house stocked
- fitting all the undesired necessities into my [small] budget….
Staying on top of household essentials AND a budget made me realize that a “stockpile” of bulk items is totally worth the stereotype. It’s literally worth $$$
Why buy in bulk? Doesn’t it cost more?
I mean… yeah. But let me share my favorite economics lesson – Economies of Scale
The idea of economies of scale is that the cost per unit is LESS if you buy MORE. That’s why Amazon can give away free shipping to Prime members. They aren’t charged by UPS every time they send something to your door, they have a deal with UPS. Amazon pays for the cost of shipping with a HUGE flat fee, maybe monthly or annually. And that cost is probably earned back with every prime subscription and general profits made by Amazon.
But that’s not important. The important part is that the UPS/Amazon deal more than likely comes at a discount to Amazon. The high volume of shipping and exclusive UPS use makes everybody’s job easier and the cost per shipment lower. So it’s cheaper for THEM to ship through UPS than it would be for you to just walk into a store and pay for 2-day shipping.
So yes, it costs more, BUT you pay less in the long run. Also, it lasts longer. It’s a win no matter which way you look at it. There are some items on this list that we purchased when we bought our house, and we have NOT needed to buy it again in 3 years. That’s just crazy to me.
Do the math
Amazon usually does the math for you (next to the price you’ll see an amount/count) and that is your price per unit.
So let’s get to it. Here are the household essentials that frugal people always buy in bulk.
Shampoo & Conditioner
Because it doesn’t expire, and no “full” shower is complete without it!
*as opposed to a half-shower/mom-shower/girl shower with no hair washing included. who has time for that?
Soap & Body Wash
The critical element of that half-shower. It’s not going to go bad, and I’d be lost if I ran out of it.
I still squeeze it down to the last drop, but if I play my cards right it never runs out.
This is one you might not need to rebuy for years if you buy enough just once. And it’s dirt cheap. For about $10 you could have this off your shopping list for years to come.
I always opt for the two pack. It saves at least a dollar or two.
Regardless of your flow, go for the SUPER JUMBO BOX. Tampons/sanitary pads are pricey, but they won’t go bad and the price per unit for the little box is just nuts!
Diapers & Wipes
Buying fewer is just silly… I bought a bulk box of baby wipes BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2017 and it’s still running (6 months later). For an extra few bucks, you get an extra couple months worth and save the trip and the price of packaging.
Plus, Amazon Prime has constant discounts on all baby essentials.
General First Aid
Things like Band-aids, Ibuprofen, and Neosporin are marked up so high at your common variety corner store. Don’t fall for it.
Go for the BIGGEST container and thank me later.
Unless you’re unsure about the scent or your family has sensitive skin.
Using a refillable soap dispenser is the way to go! The giant jug of soap costs barely any extra for like 5x the product.
This will never go bad, so even if you don’t mop nearly as much as you should *cough* me, who cares. It’s yours and you have it when you need it.
So many uses, and so essential.
Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
These are perfect to have on hand at all times. Frozen fruit is best for smoothies (instead of ice) and frozen veggies bring dinner to life in those dreary winter months. Or let’s face it, any regular night because fresh vegetables aren’t always going to make it to dinner. That requires a lot of planning that moms don’t always have time for.
These are usually expensive. The things like granola bars, individual sized chips, etc are better off getting more of. The price per unit drops FAST with more of these items.
Jumbo ketchup (or catsup, I really don’t know) and mustard might be clunky, but it’s the perfect excuse to invest in some cute dispensers like these “nostalgia dispensers”.
Fruit, vegetables, BEANS, tomatoes (diced, crushed, WHOLE), and generally everything in the whole world. These are pretty much indestructible and those 4-packs of corn bring the individual prices down. Even if you don’t find a use for it, a canned food drive is always around the corner.
Sure, fresh pasta is a thing. But I’m pretty sure only Ina Garten gets it. Being frugal means sacrificing some luxuries sometimes, and frankly…. Pasta is Pasta.
Vinegar is used for most cleaning hacks, and you can never have enough. It is used for just about everything.
Not when it’s charged per pound, but when there is a deal, don’t pass it up!
The stereotypical story of asking your neighbor for a cup of sugar might be a great way to start a conversation, but it’s definitely nice to avoid when you really need it.
Just like sugar, this baking necessity is detrimental when you run out of it. I can never have enough flour on hand.
Buying a mini-sized jar of common flavors is silly. Unless it’s something obscure like pumpkin or apple pie spice, just buy the big one. It’s nice to have options.
Things like salt, pepper, chili powder, basil, parsley – the works. These are crazy common and recipes usually call for a lot of it.
Any self-respecting mom knows to stay stocked on coffee. And those “less than a cup of coffee a day” quotes generally estimates coffee cups costing about $1. My coffee is EVEN CHEAPER. One tablespoon of coffee grounds is the equivalent of one cup of coffee, but in my case it’s like 2 or 3? I like my coffee black and weak lol so sue me.
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Random Household Essentials
These babies are expensive, but they’re cheaper by the bunch and they are so good to have on hand.
We purchased a bulk box of trash bags from Sam’s Club and didn’t need to restock for 2 years lol
We bought sandwich bags and gallon freezer bags the same time we bought those trash bags and they are still. going. strong. 3 years later.
A stash of plasticware can come in handy for years of parties, picnics, and brown-bag lunches.
Most frugal people don’t even use paper towels around the house, but for moms they are game changers. I only buy the towel-like Viva towels, and for around $13 I get a few months out of a big pack instead of $8 every month.
Go big or go home! It’s cheaper per roll AND heaven help you when you run out of TP.
It’s so great to have these during cold and flu season. Plain old TP is exactly what you DON’T want rubbed all over your already sensitive, chapped, runny nose.
Dogs need food too! My boy gets some table scraps here and there (and anything that falls while I’m cooking or baby is eating), but buyng bulk dog food makes it cheaper AND less of a hassle. I get a jumbo bag of dog chow once a month, which makes it easy to budget!
Dog Poo Bags
Ok so this makes me cringe… not because I regularly pick up dog crap with only a plastic baggy between us, but because I see those little packs at the store for about $7 with the dog-bone shaped dispenser and like 2 rolls of bags.
We bought a 1000 dog poo bags before we brought our puppy home 4 years ago and we STILL have a few rolls left. The kicker? it was less than $15….!
Buying in bulk will save you money, but you don’t need a huge stockpile.
Just buying the most practical amount for the best price will do the trick. I don’t expect normal people to store 50 tubes of toothpaste, but buying the bigger size of what’s offered at the store is usually the most cost-effective trick to shopping frugally. And I’m a huge proponent for adopting a frugal lifestyle as a stepping stone to financial independence.
Which of these household essentials will you be able to cut from your regular shopping trip?
Nancy Dillow says
I understand what you are saying about buying Baggies in bulk. (among other things). More that a year ago, I had all sizes of baggies both upstairs and downstairs. And, when I “hid” a box from myself, I would buy more at the dollar store. Then I started to move, and couldn’t find my stashes, I bought more. So, I moved 28 miles away, and as I packed up, I kept finding my stashes. That meant that so much was packed up in Baggies, and easily thrown into the nearest packing box. That kept so many items safe from storage facilities, and in the garage without things smelling stale.
Ashley Grey says
Hahaha that’s amazing. I love finding secret stashes of things like that! Just as good today as they were years ago lol!