Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Reason We Have a Basement

Hi, my name is Samantha, and I am a bulk shopping-aholic. My husband is one too. And, from what I have heard, my grandmother loved to bulk shop long before the likes of BJ's and Costco. I guess it is in my genes. I am afraid there is no cure. I guess that is why we only looked at houses with basements.

This weekend, Josh and I did our favorite thing; we went to the beach bulk shopping! Sure, it's a little nerdy and certainly shows our age, but we love it. We love the options, having a ton of supplies on hand, saving money, and most importantly, the $1.50 Hebrew National hot dogs at the end (hey, it's rare to get meat outside of the house). We love wandering up and down every aisle, hoping to see our favorite brands, marveling over the sizes of the boxes/bottles/tubs of products they sell, and repeating over and over again "Wow! Did you see that price? Do you know how much we are saving by buying a 3 month supply?" followed by Josh actually doing the math. It never gets old.

Our addiction started when we first met. When I found out that the bulk stores sold kosher chicken and had kosher deli counters, I had to see it for myself. I had had some bulk shopping experience with my parents and was already intrigued by the idea. I dragged Josh to the store to stock up on chicken, and then, right there in middle of the frozen food section, he shared with me his secret. He loved bulk shopping too!

This realization has led to our new quarterly weekend tradition of roaming huge aisles with larger than life portions and enormous amounts of supplies. At first, like most bulk shopping novices, we over bought. We bought the wrong type of products and did not have enough room in our house to store everything. There was a lot of wastefulness. But now, we have it down to a science. We walk in armed with our list, go up and down the aisles looking for the 2 impulse buys we have allotted ourselves, check out, and eat our hot dogs. It makes for a fun day for us.

Here are my top 10 bulk shopping tips!
  1. Always bring a list! Walking into a bulk store without a list is asking for a $500 bill in the end.
  2. Start with toiletries and then paper goods. They have long shelf lives and are generally the best deals in the store.
  3. When buying non-perishable food, make sure that inside the industrial size container are smaller, more manageable packages. This makes for easier storage and is a lot less overwhelming to deal with at home.
  4. Only buy non-perishable food you actually eat, and eat a lot. If occasionally you like a chocolate chip chewy bar, do not buy the 90 piece variety pack. If, however, every day you eat peanut butter crackers, then the 3 month supply is perfect for you.
  5. Stay away from the perishable foods unless you have an immediate need for them. It might be great to buy a 4 month supply of shredded cheese or 5 heads of lettuce, but unless you are planning a big party or plan on sharing, these will most definitely go bad before you are able to use them.
  6. Frozen foods are tricky. They are a great deal, but if your freezer is not big enough to hold the products, you are out of luck.
  7. Keep impulse buying to a minimum.
  8. Don't panic about the total on your final bill. It may be a lot more than you expected, but it is less than buying at the regular store.
  9. Make sure your trunk is empty and you have room on your shelves at home for storage. Organization and puzzle skills are a must when bringing your booty home.
  10. Have fun with it. Bulk shopping is a bit of a silly thing; the more relaxed you are about what you are buying, the more fun it is!


  1. Do you have a favorite bulk store? I let my Costco membership run out a few years ago, but lately I've been thinking about a return to the world of wholesale clubs...

  2. While we have been pretty loyal to Costco (thanks to my family's membership) we actually went to BJ's last weekend. They had a lot more options of products we use and the prices were comparable. Even better is the new one near us that is super nice and very easy to get to. If you want to go check it out one day, let us know. We are always happy to go :)

  3. ProTip #1: Love bulk shopping + Have a basement = Buy a spare freezer. It's inevitable. I give you six months, tops, til you have one.

    ProTip #2: While I'm pretty loyal to Costco, I'll give BJ's this: They accept most manufacturer coupons. Costco does not.

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