Updated: Mar 26
Think you're saving money by buying in bulk? Think again, because buying things that shouldn't be bought in bulk can cost you more money.
We've been taught that buying in bulk is a great way to cut back on our expenses and save money. It is even more tempting to buy in bulk when you see deals in the supermarket, where large quantities are offered at a low price. However, these bulk purchases can be an absolute waste of food and money if they get ruined before even being consumed.
Buying in bulk can be a very cost-effective way to grocery shop when you have several mouths to feed. It can also save you money in the long run when you purchase the appropriate items in bulk. But if you have a small family or are just looking to consume for yourself, here are 10 things that you should never buy in bulk -
1. Condiments & spreads. These are perfect when purchased in bulk for a restaurant or a commercial kitchen. But the same does not go for home usage. Aside from the fact that you won't be able to finish it before the expiry date, they have a potential for contamination when every time someone sticks a spoon, knife or even a finger into the container. Hence, in some cases it goes bad even before it reaches the expiry date.
Whole-wheat and nut flour have the tendency to get rancid very quickly and have a shorter shelf life in the pantry. They are very prone to bug infestations as well. All purpose flour, though, has a longer shelf life. Buying large bags of flour will only result in a lot of waste if you do not bake a lot. Your best bet is to buy smaller bags of flour and store them in air-tight containers. Storing them in the freezer can slightly extend their shelf life and allows you to use it at your own pace.
3. Spices, herbs and seasonings.
Spices, herbs and seasonings do not go bad but they do turn stale and lose their potency over time. Professional chefs recommend replacing your spices every six months and it is best to buy your spices in small containers. If you prefer buying them in bulk, opt for spices in their whole form. Whole spices last for about a year before they begin to lose their potency.
4. Cooking oils.
Cooking oils begin to go rancid and oxidize long before their best before dates. Hence, buying them in bulk does not make sense unless you do a lot of cooking or deep frying. Those special offers on large bottles in the supermarket do not offer any savings if you are unable to use them all in 3 to 6 months.
5. Whole grain foods.
This includes brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and any other food made with whole grains such as pasta. They have a short shelf life and will only last for four to six months in the pantry. Besides that, they are also prone to bug infestations. An alternative is to store them in the freezer and consume them at will, if small quantities is all that you or your family need.
Having your own coffee at home will always be cheaper than having it at Starbucks or any other coffee shop. However, you should always buy a small bag of coffee beans instead of a large one. Coffee beans lose their freshness and aroma after a while and the key to a good coffee is always a fresh coffee. Store them in the freezer to preserve their freshness for a longer duration.
7. Fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables have a very short shelf life and can go bad super quick. Buying them in bulk is never advisable unless you have a large family to eat them all so that nothing goes to waste. Throwing away spoiled produce does not save anyone money. On the other hand, some overripe fruit can be useful though, such as banana. It is perfect for making smoothies and is used in baking pastries and banana bread.
8. Baking powder.
Baking powder has a short lifespan and purchasing them in large quantities isn't advisable. It is prone to attracting moisture and can stay fresh for only a period of six months to a year, when stored in a cool and dry place.
Bread can go bad easily when exposed to air. The only way to make bread last longer is by freezing them. Unless you plan on eating bread all day everyday, you can avoid buying them in bulk just because of a slash in their prices in a local supermarket.
10. Nuts & Seeds.
Seeds and nuts contain a lot of oil, which comes from healthy unsaturated fats. Fats, in general, tend to go rancid rather quickly. Store them in an airtight container and they will still last for only about a couple of months. Storing them in the freezer can extend their lifespan.
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