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When it comes to saving money on groceries and household items, buying in bulk at warehouse club stores like Sam's Club and BJs is often a smart thing to do. But it's not always the best deal—for several reasons. Financial expert Lauren Cobello shares which bulk store items you may want to avoid if you're on a tight budget, and which items will help save you money.
1. Toilet Paper
"Yes, toilet paper. Do not buy this in bulk. Just look for sales on the website of your local grocery store. You're going to save 25% or more just by buying it at your local grocery store," Lauren says.
2. Over-the-Counter Medications
"These have expiration dates on them and if you don't use them in time, they can be ineffective. So, don't go ahead and buy huge amounts if you're not sure when you're going to use them," Lauren explains.
"You don't need two gallons of ketchup. You're going to waste a lot of money because you're not going to be able to use it fast enough. So, skip the bulk buys on condiments and you'll be in a much better position," Lauren says.
As far as items TO buy in bulk, Lauren has a few recommendations.
Lauren explains that shopping for spices at a bulk store will save you at least 50%. "Also, you want to check out product placement. If you go to the spice aisle in a grocery store, a little thing of sesame seeds will be $6," she says. So, opting for the bulk stores will save you TONS on spices.
2. Baking Supplies
"You want to buy baking supplies in bulk: flour, sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder, those kinds of things—just make sure you can store it in a cool, dry place where it won't [go bad]," she explains.
"Butter is the #1 thing that I buy at the bulk store. You can get it in a pack of four and freeze it. Another little tip, shred it when it's frozen and you can fold it into recipes," Lauren recommends.
"You will save about 30% by buying your cheese at a bulk store. This is the #2 item that I buy at a bulk store. Here's my tip: bring it home, shred it, freeze it in little baggies and then you can defrost it really easily," says Lauren.
Lauren says to skip the marinades on meat when buying it in bulk. Once you bring the meat home, break it down into smaller packages, freeze them and you'll save a lot of money (PS: here's the secret to freezing meat to avoid freezer burn—never throw out frozen meat again!).