What to buy and what to avoid buying in bulk

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Buying in bulk at the grocery store can be so tempting, even if there are only a few people in your family. When you do the math, it seems so much cheaper to buy that enormous vat of ketchup over a single bottle, but will you really use it all?

Bulk buying can be a complicated equation. Balancing need, space considerations, food preferences and product expiration dates, all while standing there in the aisle of a warehouse store, can leave you confused. We want to capture the savings, but avoid the problems that come with miscalculating. 

Even if you really, really like making cinnamon cookies, will you actually use that enormous shaker of cinnamon? While ground spices don’t technically go bad, they can definitely lose flavor after 12 months of sitting in your pantry. Spice maker McCormick & Company notes that you can check spice freshness by crushing a little in your hand. If you still get a fresh aroma, you’re probably okay.  

Fruits and vegetables vary in how quickly they go bad, but overall you’re better off buying it fresh as you need it. Corn on the cob, for one, is best eaten within just one or two days of being picked. Produce such as cucumbers, lettuce and radishes don’t freeze well. Buy only what you need.

Brown rice is nutty, flavorful and healthy, but don’t stock up. Its sister grain, white rice, can be stored in your cupboard almost forever, but brown rice isn’t as long-lived. The Whole Grains Council says whole brown rice should only be kept for six months in your pantry, though if you freeze it, you can extend that to one year.

Have you ever smelled a rotten egg? It’s not pleasant. Your carton of eggs should come with an expiration date, and the American Egg Board says the little shelled marvels can be safely eaten for a few weeks after that.      

Paper towels and bathroom tissue are among the best items you can buy in bulk. They won’t go bad or out of style. The main issues when it comes to bulking up on paper products are to make sure you have storage space in your home and room to haul it there in your car.

If you have a giant freezer, buying chicken, pork and beef in bulk is a good deal. However, make sure you sort it, label and date it, then freeze it.  Meat can stay frozen for months, but, that old enemy, freezer burn, eventually will make its way in. If you don’t have a large freezer, just buy enough for the week and use it up before buying more.

Bless the person whoever invented boxed macaroni and cheese. It’s easy to make, simple to store, delicious to eat, and is beloved by kids of all ages. Warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club are perfect places to load up on cases of mac and cheese

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