I was looking at the individual prices of items on my grocery bill, and I was bemoaning the fact that certain items have seen dramatic price increases. I guess that I should also bemoan the fact that the money coming into my home has not increased much. I am an avid price comparison shopper. I know where to find the best deals on any number of items in my part of the town, but it appears that this is not enough. Last year, I read an article that posited the idea that if you buy in bulk that you will save money on the price and by gong to the store less often, so I wanted to take a look at this thought.
I like Costco. Every time I read reports about their CEO and the firm, I am impressed with how they conduct themselves (for the most part). I purchased their stock because of these articles, so I decided to pay for membership at that store. The price was reasonable, but I include it in my calculations to see if I am actually saving money. It turns out that if I am a regular shopper at the store, I do save a good deal of money on basic items, like milk, eggs, bread, and such. However, I have a problem. My storage spaces for meats or other refrigerated items is small, and I do not want to be a freezer just for these goods. I also discovered that on meats, I am not always getting a better price than at some grocery stores. I end up having to buy more of it for the same cost as if I stopped in at a store on the way home. I have found that warehouse stores like this one do not always offer the best price, even though we are lead to believe that you will always save money by shopping at their locations. The problem of storage also bothers me, because I find that I use some items faster than I would normally, just so I can create space.
Using goods faster seems to be an issue with buying in bulk. My wife and son have developed the habit of opening jars and cans when they find them in the pantry, without realizing that the other has already opened a jar or can of the same good. People are habitual; they look for their want in the location that they are used to finding it, and they forget to check to see if it might be available already. I have not had much success in stopping this development. I think having more of some product is just like having more money on your paycheck. You see that it is there, so you use it, instead of conserving it. Maybe this is a psychological issue from periods when food was scarce. You ate what you could, because there was no more available, but now that more is there in the refrigerator or pantry, we can take it at will. I advise you to find ways of preventing the bulk items from disappearing, if you really want it to be a way to save money.
I think that be a thoughtful shopper is the best way to save on your grocery bill. Compare prices at different stores; think how this product will be used in your home; how long will it last; and have some type of plan as to what you need. Writing a shopping list, and sticking with it is a great way to stop unnecessary expenses. We go into a store to find a special, so we have to buy it. I always go in with a basic plan. I do not plan a specific meal though. I make loose plans of how much I am willing to spend on a particular food item. For example, I will say that I want $5 of fruit, so then I look how I can get the most fruit for that amount of money. I find that this works better than putting down apples, oranges, and bananas on my list. It also allows me to bring a variety of fruits into the home.
As I was thinking about what I would include in this post, another post that I wrote this morning for another blog struck me as fitting into this idea of saving money. You can read the post here: http://activerain.com/blogsview/397558/Do-you-Graze-in . The basic idea is that by including vegetables and fruits all over your garden, instead of in one vegetable bed, you could have a good variety of vegetables that you are growing yourself, which should save you money. I saw Jerusalem Artichokes for around three dollars a pound in a store this weekend. This plant grows like a weed in Texas along the streets and empty lots. I could pick it for free there. I grow it in my garden, and since it is a native, I do not have to water it heavily. I know that I will be saving money with those plants.
Bulk shopping can be a great way to save, but do not couple it with increased consumption. I think that there are many vegetable varieties that make good accent plants in our garden beds.