Warehouse clubs, with their large quantities at low prices, can be great for stocking up on items your family uses frequently. Sometimes bigger really is better, and large quantities provide more bang for your buck. Other times, buying in bulk results in throwing out food, or worse yet, consuming spoiled or stale items. When considering buying in bulk, steer clear of the following items unless you will be able to use them quickly.
14. Brown Rice
While properly stored white rice has a shelf life of four to five years, brown rice (as well as wild rice) contains natural oils that will cause it to spoil if it is kept longer than six to eight months. To keep uncooked brown rice fresh longer, you can store it in the refrigerator for eight to 12 months. Steer clear of the 10- or 20-pound bags of brown rice found in your local warehouse store unless you will be eating them within six months.
13. Canned Vegetables
Canned vegetables do have a long shelf life of one to two years when they are stored in a dry, cool area. Stocking up on these items means veggies are always close at hand. However, bulk packages of canned goods tend to contain only one type of vegetable. This may be convenient for items you use frequently. For instance, if you make a weekly batch of spaghetti sauce from canned diced tomatoes, you may need to stock up on tomatoes. However, avoid purchasing bulk quantities of little-used vegetables that may sit on your shelf for extended periods.
The bulk boxes of cereal at the warehouse club are usually comparable to the cereals you can find at your local grocery store. However, if you are shopping in bulk to save money, you are better off watching for sales at the grocery store. Seek out sales and cut coupons to get the best price on packaged cereals. The good news is that unopened cereals have a shelf life of up to one year.
Those tall canisters of spices available at warehouse clubs won’t remain fresh and flavorful forever. This Eat By Date website provides a handy chart of expiration dates for commonly used spices. In general, fresh herbs last for five to seven days, while ground and dried herbs are good for two to three years. Whole spices can last as long as four to five years. Proper storage is important for these spices to retain their flavor and potency. Store them in tightly sealed containers in a cool, dark cabinet away from the heat and humidity of your oven or kitchen sink.
To enjoy ground coffee at its maximum freshness, buy quantities you will consume within three to five months. After this period of time, coffee loses the robust flavor and earthy aroma that are essential to the coffee experience. Whole beans will last six months in your pantry and up to three years in the freezer. If you have the freezer space to buy whole coffee beans in bulk, you can grind your own beans for that fresh coffee taste. Otherwise, stick to smaller quantities you can enjoy at maximum freshness.Related: Don’t Reheat These Foods in the Microwave
Despite all the preservatives in condiments like ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, they won’t last forever. Once the container is opened, keep mayonnaise in the refrigerator for a maximum of two months. Opened bottles of ketchup can be kept longer. Storing them in the refrigerator will keep them fresh for six months. Avoid mega-bottles of condiments unless your family will consume them within this time frame.
Packed with protein, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants, eggs are no longer shunned despite their levels of cholesterol. The American Heart Association suggests one egg or two egg whites per day can be part of a nutritious, well-balanced diet. Consider your family’s egg consumption before stocking up on the packages of 36 eggs found at discount warehouses. This may be a great deal if you are whipping up omelets or egg scrambles for a crowd daily. If not, keep in mind that eggs expire within three to six weeks of purchase.
7. Liquid Bleach
Bleach has a shelf life of one year when stored at room temperature and away from direct sunlight, according to Clorox. The 3-gallon packages of bleach found at discount clubs may come at a great price, but they may lose their effectiveness before you can use them. Over time, bleach breaks down into salt and water. Bleach that does not give off that distinctive, sharp aroma associated with cleanliness is no longer bleach.Related: 18 Foods You Don’t Need to Refrigerate
6. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are expensive, and it can be tempting to purchase the large quantities found at discount clubs at lower prices. However, opened packages of nuts can expire quickly. At best, you can end up with mealy, flavorless nuts. At worst, they can turn rancid and foul-tasting. Pine nuts and pistachios are the quickest to expire, with a shelf life of around one to three months past the date printed on the package. Almonds are the hardiest nuts, with a shelf life of up to one year. Purchase nuts in the quantity needed when baking. For snacking, select package sizes you will consume within this time frame.
5. Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil has many health benefits due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies suggest it may help prevent heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s disease. However, before you grab that 3-liter bottle of olive oil at the discount club, make sure you will be able to use it within six months. Additionally, light breaks olive oil down. Purchase olive oil in dark containers that will protect against sunlight, and store your bottle in a cool, dark pantry.
Bulk quantities of fruits and vegetables look so tempting and can provide so many of the antioxidants, nutrients, and fiber your family needs. However, they won’t do your body any good if they spoil before they can be consumed. Purchase produce in amounts your family will consume by shopping at local farmer’s markets or the local grocery store. Additionally, grocery stores often offer seasonal produce at lower prices than discount stores.Related: Avoid Storing These 16 Foods in Your Pantry
3. Skincare Products
Lotions, creams, and cleansers can lose their potency within three to six months of opening. Also, dipping your fingers into jars can contaminate them with germs. Skincare products are expensive, and you will want to achieve the maximum benefit from your purchases. Avoid purchasing large jars and containers that you will not be able to use while they are still fresh and sanitary. Your skin will thank you.
Bulk packages of sunscreen are great when spending a summer at the beach or out by the pool. However, make sure you are really getting a good deal when purchasing this item in large quantities. Keep in mind that sunscreen breaks down more quickly when exposed to heat and sunlight. If you are keeping your sunscreen next to you on your sunny lounge chair, your sunscreen may degrade faster than you can use it.
1. Whole-Wheat Flour
White flour has a shelf life of up to a year. However, refined white flour has also been stripped of its nutrients. It may increase your risk of heart disease, increase blood sugar levels, and contribute to inflammation. Whole wheat flour is a much better option containing fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Flour made from whole wheat also retains natural oils, which decreases its shelf life. Purchase only the quantities of whole wheat flour that you will be able to use within one to three months.Related: 13 Items That Cost More at Your Local Drugstore