Shop More Frequently, Rather Than Buying Perishables In Bulk, To Save

Shop More Frequently, Rather Than Buying Perishables In Bulk, To Save
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When it comes to saving money at the grocery store, “buy in bulk” is common sense. However, this can backfire if you’re buying perishables. Many frugal shoppers don’t realise just how much food they end up throwing away.

Photo by Flikr, Joyce S. Lee.

While non-perishable items can sit in your pantry forever (or be donated to charity if you decide not to eat them), perishable items have shelf lives that we often forget. You buy a week’s worth of meat or a month’s worth of milk. Later, you eat out a couple times and your food schedule gets pushed back, and suddenly you don’t need those perishable items until after their expiration date. Unless you have your meals strictly planned out far in advance, it’s easy to get stuck in this trap.

Estimating how much an individual wastes is hard to do, and will obviously vary from person to person. However, estimates from the National Health Institute in the US suggest that up to 40% of all food produced ends up in landfills. Your personal food waste rate is probably lower than that, but if you’re buying in bulk, take a moment to consider whether you’ll really use all that food before it goes bad.

Living in the United States of Food Waste [Bloomberg via Mother Jones]


  • Unfortunately, I have this issue. It’s often dramatically cheaper to buy meats and produce in large quantities, or even “other than small one or two serving” quantities appropriate for someone who lives alone. So I buy the 4 pack of capsicums and the two-pack of lettuce, and am disappointed when 2 capsicums start to go soft and half the second head of lettuce ends up too wilted to eat.

  • We often buy in bulk when stuff is cheaper and whack in the freezer. We found a chest freezer cheap (2nd hand) and made room for it in the laundry – got rid of some shelves.

    We will usually buy about 6 loaves of bread at a time and pull out a new one as required the night before. If you forget, just have toast for breakfast and give a quick zap to half thaw it for before making lunches. It will be fully thawed by lunch.

  • Par boil your veg and store it in the freezer in single portions. I use glad sandwich bags for the portions and remove as much air as possible. We’ve saved hundreds of dollars over the last few years on veg, the freezer we bought for the purpose has more than paid for itself.

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