Personal Finance Firewall did a great post a couple of weeks back on how to get the most of your products when shopping in bulk.
The best part of the post, in my opinion was going through the differences between the various dates and how they're labeled (e.g. Best By, Sell By, Use By). This information would probably be useful printed out and kept on the wall in people's pantry!
We buy quite a few items in bulk. I thought about a few things we do that weren't mentioned that might go along well with the referenced post.
- Buy stuff we know we'll use – This may seem obvious, but most of the time, we'll only buy stuff that we know we use regularly. An example here is raisins. I started using raisins regularly with my morning breakfast of oatmeal. Once I knew that was part of my routine, it made sense to start buying raisins in bulk, and we've saved a lot because of it.
- Stock your cupboards and pantry using First In First Out – When you get home from Costco or whatever your choice of bulk food provider may be, it's tempting to just stick the stuff you bought on the shelf in the easiest way possible. That usually involves some combination of filling in empty spots, or pushing what's there to the back. This usually means you'll have older stuff in the back, where it will often fall victim to the ‘out of sight, out of mind' downfall, and end up not being used. I take the time to put our newest stuff in the back.
- Re-arrange things now and then – Even if you do keep the older stuff in the front, you'd still be amazed at what you forget about. Every so often, I'll do a complete overhaul of our bulk food stuff. Most of our bulk food stock goes on a shelving unit at the bottom of the basement stairs. I'll move everything around. This accomplishes to things: It makes sure that I touch (and become aware of) every single things we have. The second is that it returns order and organization to the mix. Often, with bulk food buying, you'll need more space for one thing and less for another than you did previously. Re-arranging will allow you to make best use of your space, and reduce waste.
I'm sure there are a lot of other ways. Give the article above a read, and see if what I added on can help you make the most of your bulk food buying.