One of my family’s biggest monthly expenses is groceries, and from speaking to other moms, that is pretty common. I have employed a lot of different tactics in my war on the grocery budget, including buying things in bulk.
Many people very successfully buy in bulk to keep their grocery expenses down (hello Prudent Homemaker. That woman is a genius). But I have decided to stop buying in bulk, and here are some of the reasons why.
The biggest reason that buying in bulk doesn’t work for my family to save money is because waste too much food. Especially for fresh produce.
Sometimes I will get on a kick where I make a bunch of soups the require spinach as an ingredient. So I will go buy a giant flat of organic spinach. And then I will get off of my soup kick. And my organic spinach will go bad. And I will throw away $6 worth of spinach.
Some people may be more diligent about using up all of their ingredients, but I am not too proud to recognize that I am not.
We are vegetarians, and I like to experiment with new dishes. If I buy certain ingredients in bulk I end up scrambling to come up with recipes to utilize them. If I am not inspired by my menu plan, and my family isn’t excited to eat the dishes, that translates into a lot of procrastinating and eating out. Typically it also means uneaten leftovers that end up getting tossed.
By buying in smaller quantities, I can switch up our menu at shorter intervals and cater to what everyone is craving that week. Again, other families may be more disciplined in this area but we aren’t.
Some of you may have a much better selection when it comes to buying food in bulk. But, here we have very few to zero options for vegan and organic unless you buy in smaller quantities from the local grocery store.
Not buying in bulk allows me to buy less, but more expensive and, in some cases, higher quality foods. I try to buy organic as much as possible, but sometimes price and availability come into play.
Buying in smaller portions allows me to take advantage of the sales every week. Since I am menu planning in shorter intervals, I can easily incorporate good deals into our plan for the week.
This also allows me to buy precisely the amount we will eat instead of stocking up and hoping we go through it.
One Size Does Not Fit All
There is definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution to keeping the grocery budget in check. I have a smaller family 3-5 depending on if my step-sons are here) and I am a self-employed working mom. Convenience and ease sometimes trump cost in our meal planning.
We are also fortunate that we have some wiggle room in our grocery budget. If I HAD to buy in bulk to feed my kids, sure, I would definitely make it work! But for now, we have let the Sam’s membership lapse and are finding success without buying in bulk.