Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Join the Club

The warehouse club, that is. In addition to nationwide chains of warehouse clubs such as Sam's Club and Costco, there are also local and regional ones in many areas.

All of them enable you to buy larger sizes of products than you would be able to in your standard supermarket. For instance, instead of buying a five-pound bag of flour, you may be able to buy a twenty-five or even fifty-pound bag. By buying in bulk, you can often get food and other essentials for significant savings over the equivalent amount of retail-sized packages of the same item.

However, make sure to consider such factors as storage space and ability to use all of a product in a reasonable amount of time. Do you have suitable containers to store staples such as flour, sugar and rice in bulk so that they will remain fresh and be protected from vermin such as insects or mice? Can you use the giant bottle of catsup or salad dressing before it spoils, or will you end up throwing away an inch or so at the bottom? It's no savings if part of it ends up going to waste.

For instance, I routinely buy cereal at Sam's Club because the giant boxes contain three internal pouches, each one of about the right size for us to eat before it becomes stale. The other two pouches can remain unopened until we're ready to eat them. However, I generally do not buy the giant bags of flour or sugar for the simple reason that I have no way to store them until I use them.

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