Buying in bulk is a blessing for larger families with children that burn through the cupboards like a brush fire, but it can also be an incredible time-saver for smaller families who can’t afford to spend every other day stocking up on the essentials. However, there is a right and wrong way to buy in bulk, as Business Insider reports — answering a few simple questions will go a long way towards saving you time and money. 1. How much free storage space do you have? There’s really nothing worse than unloading the car after an incredibly successful shopping trip and realizing you have less space than you thought for that gallon jug of shampoo. Before you head to the store, reorganize your pantry and storage closet and take both a mental and physical picture of your available space so you have a tangible reason for buying just the one package of assorted Gatorade. Also, if you feel the need to build special storage shelves in a spare room to hold some of your bulk purchases, you are dangerously close to following in Honey Boo Boo’s mom June’s hoarding footsteps.
2. How much space can you spare in your freezer? The cold storage space is important, but the frozen space is probably even more valuable — some of the best savings are in the frozen aisles, plus freezing some of your cache will make your goods last even longer. As an aside, if your family is big on frozen foods, we highly recommend investing in a separate chest freezer for the basement or the garage, considering the freezer portion of most family refrigerators leaves much to be desired. 3. What will your family actually eat? This may seem like a no-brainer, but too many of us buy sale items because of the price and don’t even realize how unnecessary it will be once we get it home. To make sure you don’t get roped into three pounds of frozen crème puffs on your next trip, we suggest making small lists of items your family already enjoys for their brown bag lunches, after-school snacks, and the main meals of the day. While at the store, if you find yourself attracted to the three-for-one deal on macaroni salad, you can look at the list and feel confident in saying no. Now that you’ve prepared your mind, pantry, and budget, check out Business Insider’s list of the best and worst items to buy in bulk.