Friday, 31 October 2014

Stocking Up at the Grocery Store - What and When?

Buying in bulk is a wonderful thing.  It's nice to know that you have a certain number of staples on hand and capitalizing on a sale is a great way to keep your pantry well stocked. I come from a very savvy saving family.  My grandfather had buying tuna down to a science. My dad is prepared in case they ever discontinue deodorant. Me? Well, lets just say there will never be an empty toilet roll on my watch. Whether you're a card carrying Costco fanatic, a clever couponer, or price match master, not every bargain is one you actually need. With that in mind I decided to take a closer look at when to spend and when to pass.
What:  Non-perishable Food Items

When: It's a product that figures in to your regular food rotation
I strongly believe you should never have to buy pasta or pasta sauce at full price.  It's always on sale somewhere.  When I find a good buy on the brands I prefer, I always buy several. Spaghetti is a quick mid-week meal that you can customize to your taste with little effort. Perfect to have on hand. Items like canned or dried beans, frozen vegetables and items like rice are perfect for these types of one pot wonders. Casseroles, soups, and stews that you can make with whatever else you have on hand. Even though most of these products have a long shelf life, you should be aware of products you've had on hand a while. I once had a can of mandarin oranges in syrup for over a year. I have no idea for what purpose I had bought them. What a waste. Create a dinner, or consider donating to your local food bank so that your spending makes sense.

What:  Household and Personal Care.

When: It's products you know and trust. 
Two for one on toilet cleaner? Awesome. Huge discount on paper towel?  Load up! $20 off diapers? Buy 3, of various sizes of course! That is, if it's actually a good deal. I remember buying a large bottle of shampoo that didn't do a great job, and the awkward size made it difficult to dispense. I'm sure I wasted a great deal and I couldn't wait to buy a new type.  Another mom shared with me the story of buying a great deal on Kirkland brand wipes. The only problem is, she hated the smell. If you're buying a product you've never before used or of a lesser quality, you might end up with just a large quantity of something you hate.

What:  Fresh Dairy and Produce

When: Almost never. 
Unless you're planning to batch cook, host a party, or otherwise know with certainty that you need a large number of anything with an expiry date, just don't do it.  You will either start to hate that food because you're eating so often, or it will just end up going bad.  You know what they say: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Unless you can come up with a meal plan to capitalize on that box of tomatoes, or know with confidence that your kids will eat all those yogurt tubes before the 15th, don't bother. Oh, and take a tip from me - planning to bake eventually does not merit an entire freezer of black bananas. Free yourself from the guilt and the lack of space!

A good deal is only a good deal under the right conditions, so think about your purchase twice before breaking out the plastic. Think about the size of a serving, the way your family actually uses products and what else you might need to use that item. Your family will not switch from nuggets to salad just because you bought too much lettuce!

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