Baby Hints & Tips

Bulk buying traps – beware

Bulk buying trapsCan bulk buying save you money? Baby Hints and Tips asked thrifty expert, Louisa Forrest to explore this question in more detail. Here is what she found.

Being a bit of a frugalista has become par for the course for many parents.

There are so many tips and tricks out there that it’s really easy to start saving money on things like your groceries – almost immediately.

But I have wondered at times whether all the frugal living tips and tricks really all they’re touted to be. One that immediately sprang to mind was the purported cost-savings associated with bulk buying.

Armed with my arsenal of SmartPhone Price Crunching apps, a pen, paper and NO KIDS I headed to different stores in my local area.

The results of my little expedition might surprise you… a lot.

Phone App Used:

Price Cruncher (android)

Stores Visited:

  • ALDI
  • Coles
  • Woolworths
  • Local Bulk Food place (Colless Foods)

Prices Compared:

  • Almonds
  • Chicken – breast and thighs
  • Baked beans
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Bread – whole grain, wholemeal and gluten free
  • Cheese – tasty
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • White rice
  • Flours

After four hours of trudging around the supermarkets in my area, I was over it. I went and sat down for a cuppa in my local cafe, and had a look over my results.

Interestingly, despite claims to the contrary, it was NOT cheaper to buy in bulk!

Interestingly also, despite all the money spent on the price wars between Coles and Woolies – NEITHER were cheaper on ANY items listed above!

After reviewing every item on the list – which is our list of weekly staples (except milk as we don’t drink it) I found that in every instance except ONE that ALDI was the cheapest (ALDI was on par with other supermarkets for meat prices and higher for chicken breast)!

Not by a little bit either – by quite an amount… sometimes as much as 35%!

When I compared bulk or loose item purchasing for flours, nuts and the like, even the 750g bag of almonds at ALDI cost MORE per unit than the 250g they sold! Oddly, it was cheaper to buy THREE 250g bags of almonds than the one 750g bag at ALDI, and much cheaper than buying by the kilo at even the bulk foods place.

So where does one draw the line with the ‘bulk buying’ argument?

Well, when you’re looking at 5 or 10% difference in price per unit (per gram, kilogram etc) then I would certainly buy bulk.

Reason being is that you have to factor in the landfill cost for packaging. Technically, you are not paying it per packet; however, if you were to divide up your bins loads by total landfill cost and work that out per bag of rubbish etc etc… but who has time for that?

Bulk buying take home message

Moral of the story is that;

  1. Bulk is NOT always cheaper
  2. Work your numbers
  3. ALDI nearly always IS cheaper!

Before you ask, yes, I bought ALL Australian products from ALDI and we recycle, upcycle and repurpose  everything we can 🙂

Happy shopping!

Louisa Forrest

About the Author:

Louisa is an author, single mother, passionate environmentalist and the creator of The Eco Mum community. Louisa is also Director and founder of The Lavenderia NappyCare, providing the greenest nappy solution available in Australia today. She lives with her two young children in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.

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  1. What?! But, I always thought bulk buying would save a lot of money from what I have to expend on my child’s nappies and wet wipes!! I don’t get it.. How can buying a bulk of nappies which actually costs $11 for only $4, not save your money??

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