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Does Buying in Bulk Really Save You Money?

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you’ve probably suffered sticker shock more than once thanks to a huge spike in inflation over the last two years (Oreos cost how much?). Now we’re all trying to find ways to make our grocery budgets go even further. And one of the best ways to save money on groceries is to buy in bulk.

Does buying in bulk really save you money? There’s only one way to find out: Swing by your neighborhood warehouse store, eat the samples, and load up that shopping cart! Okay, we’re kidding (but we are serious about eating the samples).

The trick to saving money by buying in bulk is to have a game plan before you even walk through the door of the store. And we’ve got one ready for you! Here’s what you need to know:

How to Buy in Bulk 

Our top two tips for saving money by shopping in bulk are pretty simple. First, only buy things you know you’ll use. And second, compare prices!

While it might be tempting to grab that 80-ounce jar of mustard, ask yourself, Am I really going to eat that? You don’t want to buy in bulk just to end up with the “bulk” of it in the trash. Stick to buying things you know you or your family will eat or use.

And when you’re comparing prices, you’ll need to pay attention to the overall cost (to make sure you don’t go over budget) and figure out your cost per unit. But what the heck does “cost per unit” even mean? Don’t worry, there’s only a tiny bit of math involved. All you need to do is figure out how much you’re paying per item. You can do the math like this:

Total item price ÷ unit weight or number = price per unit (example: $4.59 ÷ 12 eggs = $0.38 per egg)

It’s pretty quick and painless to figure out on your phone (even when you’re standing under all that fluorescent lighting in the store).

Where Can I Buy in Bulk?

There are two heavy hitters in the wholesale world: Costco and Sam’s Club. Both stores are pretty similar when it comes down to what they sell. If you want to buy a 10-pound bag of cubed cheese, this is where you’ll find it! But you can also buy in bulk at other stores like BJ’s Wholesale Club and even online outlets like Boxed and Amazon.

What Should I Buy in Bulk?

It might not always shake out this way, but in general, you can usually count on some items to be a better bargain when you buy them in bulk. Just watch out for a couple of rookie mistakes that can lead to overspending:

  • Stocking up on things to avoid making a return trip.
  • Doing all your grocery shopping at the warehouse store so you “get your money’s worth” out of your membership.

Here are some items you should buy in bulk:

  • Toiletries
  • Dental care items (electric toothbrush heads and dental floss)
  • Paper products (toilet paper and paper towels)
  • Batteries
  • Gum
  • Cereal
  • Canned goods
  • Rice
  • Dry beans

What Should I Not Buy in Bulk?

This goes without saying, but you don’t need to buy everything in bulk. Some things just won’t make sense for your household or your budget.


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And yes, we’re going to keep saying this: Don’t buy anything in bulk that you won’t actually use—especially if it’s perishable. Buying perishable items like produce in bulk is always a huge gamble. The odds are rarely ever in your favor that it’s going to spoil before you can eat all of it. Yeah, 20 avocados for $3.99 is a steal. But if they all go bad before you can eat them, what’s the point?

Go ahead and save yourself the heartbreak of having to toss food in the trash, and avoid buying things like:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Perishable items (aka food that goes bad quickly)
  • Condiments
  • Spices (they can outlive their shelf life and flavor)

What About Buying Meat in Bulk?

If you’re serious about buying meat in bulk—and we’re talking “live off it for the rest of the year” serious—there are a couple of options you can look into.

You can buy meat at many warehouse stores, through online farm-to-table suppliers like Crowd Cow, or straight from a local farmer in your area (use a website like Eat Wild or Local Harvest to find a farm near you).

Let’s just cut to the chase here: If your grocery budget is tight, dropping $75 on a big pack of meat in one month won’t be the right thing for you. But if you can afford it and you can eat off that 40 pounds of chicken for the next six months (and you already have a deep freezer, vacuum sealer and a massive number of zip-close bags on hand), then $75 might be a worthwhile investment for you.

Cost Comparison of Buying in Bulk 

We went out and compared 11 items you might find at your family’s local Kroger against its bigger cousin Costco (tax not included). Keep in mind, these prices are based on our local area of Franklin, Tennessee, so prices may be different where you live.

Here’s our grocery store versus buying in bulk breakdown:

Grocery Store Item

Grocery Store

(price per unit)


(price per unit)

Quaker Old Fashioned Oats

$6.79 ÷ 2.6 lbs. = $2.61

$15.99 ÷ 10 lbs. = $1.60

Tall Kitchen Trash Bags

(Store Brand)

$13.49 ÷ 120 ct. = $0.11

$21.49 ÷ 200 ct. = $0.11

Folgers Classic Roast Coffee

$10.99 ÷ 25.9 oz. = $0.42

$14.99 ÷ 43.5 oz. = $0.34

Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal with Almonds

$4.79 ÷ 18 oz. = $0.27

$9.49 ÷ 50 oz. = $0.19

Yoplait Yogurt

$0.80 (each)

$13.49 ÷ 24 ct. = $0.56

Cheez-It Baked Snack Crackers

$5.99 ÷ 21 oz. = $0.29

$11.99 ÷ 48 oz. = $0.25

Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce

(Lower Sodium)

$2.59 ÷ 23.5 oz. = $0.11

$9.99 ÷ 135 oz. = $0.07

Organic Applesauce Pouches

(Store Brand)

$3.79 ÷ 4 ct. = $0.95

$13.99 ÷ 24 ct. = $0.58

Kraft Mac and Cheese

$1.25 (per box)

$18.99 ÷ 18 boxes = $1.06

Whole Milk*

(Store Brand)

$3.49 ÷ 128 fl oz. = $0.03

$7.49 ÷ 256 fl oz. = $0.03


(Store Brand)

$4.59 ÷ 12 eggs = $0.38

$5.49 ÷ 24 eggs = $0.23

*Costco sells milk in packs of two one-gallon containers.
**Costco sells cage-free eggs with a minimum of two dozen.

So, Does Buying in Bulk Really Save You Money? 

The short answer is yes. But it all depends on what you’re buying.

Looking at our list, you can see some winners right away. If you’re eating oatmeal every day, it makes more sense to buy 10 pounds of it for $15.99. To get 10 pounds at the grocery store, you’d have to buy four boxes of oats. That would set you back over $27! And to equal the amount of crackers you get in bulk, you’d have to buy three of the grocery store boxes. That would cost $17.97 instead of $11.99—nearly a $6 difference. And you’d end up with way more crackers than you wanted!

You might think savings like that won’t add up to very much. We hear you—it may not make much of a difference in a single purchase (blame some of that on inflation, by the way). So let’s break down what your yearly savings can look like if you switch it up and start buying in bulk for just three things:

Let’s say you and your spouse each drink four six-ounce cups of life-giving coffee a day (we know . . . some of you drink more, but stay with us here). If you buy your coffee in bulk, that’s just over $37 in savings each year. Just think of how much you’d save if you drank 12-ounce cups!

Now stay with us. Let’s also say that both of you grab yogurt to snack on each day. Buying that in bulk would save you a whopping $166 over the course of the year. Getting better.

And then you give an applesauce pouch to each of your three kids every day at lunchtime. Buying bulk over the grocery store will save you $393! How do you like them apples?

Now bust out your calculator and get excited—that adds up to almost $600 in yearly savings. Wow! That’s real money in your pocket that can go toward some other expense or money goal.


Grocery Yearly Cost

Bulk Yearly Cost

Annual Savings

Folgers Classic Roast Coffee




Yoplait Yogurt




Organic Applesauce Pouches

(Store Brand)




Things to Consider Before You Buy in Bulk 

We know, filling up your shopping cart to the brim with bulk items can feel thrilling, but remember to ask yourself these questions before you get too carried away:

  • Will this go bad before I can eat all of it?
  • Do I have enough freezer or pantry space to store all of it?
  • What’s the price per unit (or ounce)?
  • Do I really need so much of this item?
  • Have I budgeted for it?

And don’t forget that warehouse stores require you to become a member to get all the perks of their club pricing. That’s an annual fee of $50 to $60 for a basic membership, depending on the store.1,2 And if you have to drive an hour out of your way to get to the nearest store, what you save might not cover the gas it costs to get you there.

Also, consider the size of your family. Buying snacks in bulk might be a good value if you’ve got a house full of hungry teenagers who raid the pantry every five seconds, but it probably isn’t great for just you, your spouse and a toddler.

Stick to Your Budget When Buying in Bulk 

Is buying in bulk the most budget-friendly thing to do? Not always. It really depends on your needs. Like everything else in your budget, think through whether or not it works for you and your specific situation. If it does fit your lifestyle and budget, grab a few staple items in bulk and see how much you can save!

It’s sad but true—sometimes you won’t see that much of a difference in savings. For example, buying milk in bulk saves you virtually nothing—and you might be stuck with more milk than you need. That’s why you have to crunch the numbers and find out what’s worth it (to you) and what’s not.

Don’t feel the pressure to buy in bulk if the up-front cost doesn’t make sense for your budget. And watch out for how easy it is to buy things in bulk that you didn’t plan to buy. Even though it might seem like a pretty good deal, if it’s going to derail your budget, it’s not worth it, folks. Don’t get sucked into buying stuff you don’t need. (P.S. Download Rachel Cruze's Meal Planner and Grocery Savings Guide for more tips and tricks.)

And whether you’re buying in bulk or not, make sure you plan out your grocery budget long before you ever set foot in the store. It’s easy with our free budgeting app, EveryDollar. You can set up your first budget in as little as 10 minutes and then move right along to your grocery shopping list. There’s no excuse not to do it!

Here’s Rachel talking about buying in bulk on her show. Note that the most up-to-date prices on specific items are in this article.


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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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