Found yourself standing in the paper goods section of one of those giant membership stores wondering if it’s better to buy that huge package of toilet paper or paper towels or to get a much more manageable size at the grocery? We thought we would take a look at some of those things you should and should not buy in bulk.

One of the first thoughts is that we should be limiting our shopping trips so stocking up on staples may be a good idea. Having a well-stocked pantry can reduce stress.

Having a stockpile can be a great idea if you weigh the amount of goods you keep and how long those products will last in storage before they go bad. Our research had delivered some interesting information about how long you can or should store goods.

Over the Counter Medicine

Sometimes buying OTC medicines in bulk may mean that the medicine will expire before you can take the whole bottle. Before purchasing take a look at the expiration date and calculate how much of the medicine you can take before that date.

Generics from your pharmacy can frequently get you the best price.

Cleaning Products

According to Clorox Bleach the shelf life of a sealed bottle is 1 year. If you use a lot of bleach, the larger bottles will be a good buy. If your use is limited, go for a smaller bottle.

Powdered cleaning products have an almost unlimited shelf life if stored properly – a cool, dry place, out of direct sun.


Surprise! Flour will get past it’s prime and make you baked good taste bad (not likely to make you sick). Regular all-purpose flour plus other white flours like self-rising, white-bread, and white-cake flour has a shelf life of 1 year at room temperature and 2 years if refrigerated or frozen.

Whole-wheat, oat and other whole grain flours start to turn in about 3 months at room temperature and 1 year in the freezer.


It’s easy to think that a spice on the shelf should last forever. Not so. Some ground spices begin to lose their flavor in 3 short months. Be sure to keep the spices tightly covered in a cool, dry place. That doesn’t mean optimum storage would be above the cooktop or at the side of the over or stove. Both are places where the heat will get to the flavor.

Cooking Oil

This whole cooking at home thing may mean that you actually need a larger bottle of cooking oil. Like just about everything else we’re talking about, the cooling oil will lose flavor and could become rancid. According to Food Safety, coconut oil can stay fresh for 3 years. 

Vegetable oil sprays last up to a year after opening. Unopened bottles of most olive oils can keep up to 2 years while extra virgin olive oil has less time, up to 18 months. Be sure to check the expiration date of the oils you buy.


Tis the season to whip up those cookies, cake, and pies – each one requiring its own share of butter. Here’s one time that buying in bulk will likely save you some money. The membership bulk stores sell butter in 4-pound boxes for about $10.50 or $2.62 per pound rather than the grocery price of $3.99.  Just checked the price for a pound of Kroger unsalted butter and it’s $1.99 today.

Dean and Draper

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The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

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Sources:  AARP Magazine, Kiplinger, Womans Day, Food Safety