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7 Items You Should Never Buy in Bulk, According to Experts

You may a trip to Costco, but there are a few things you things you should pass on while you're there.

We're always up for a trip to Costco or Sam's Club—who doesn't want to get double the number of items for way less cash? But as much as we love hitting up the free samples while we fill up our cart, bigger doesn't always mean better. Some things will actually cost you more money in the long run if you buy them in larger quantities. Read on to see the seven items you should never buy in bulk, and you'll be extra prepared for your next shopping trip.

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Cooking Oils

Cooking oil on a cooking pan.
New Africa / Shutterstock

It's best to buy a new bottle of cooking oil once you run out versus buying ten bottles at once.

"If you aren't using cooking oils regularly you shouldn't buy them in bulk as they can go bad before you have a chance to use them," says Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with "Rancid oils smell awful and having to get rid of them can be a hassle since you're not supposed to pour any kind of oil down the drain. Instead, you should seal it up in a non-breakable container and then put it in the trash."

So, be sure to buy individually and an expired cooking oil will never turn your DIY pizza night into an ordering takeout pizza night instead.

Fresh Produce

Fresh produce
marcin jucha / Shutterstock

When it comes to buying fresh fruit and vegetables, it's best not to buy them in bulk since they can turn rancid quickly and you'll end up having to throw them out.

"While it's okay to buy fruit or vegetables in bulk when a recipe calls for it or you are hosting a gathering, regularly doing so may lead to excessive food waste," says Andrea Woroch, a money saving expert.

If you want to stock up, Woroch suggests instead buying frozen fruits and veggies that will last much longer. "Opt for frozen—frozen vegetable are great for omelettes and stir frys. Frozen fruit are also perfect for smoothies and baked treats."


Different types of cheeses.
Africa Studio / Shutterstock

While it seems like you could never have enough cheese in your fridge, experts say it's not worth it in the end to buy so much at once.

"Unless you're going to be sharing it or eating it every single day for a while, it's best to skip the giant pack of havarti, no matter how good it is," says Ramhold. "I've tried to purchase it and eat it all a couple of times and my two person household cannot get through it all. Inevitably, it either goes off or just dries out."

But of course, Ramhold says it's okay to buy cheese in bulk if you decide to spontaneously host a dinner party or a wine night for your girlfriends.

"You can definitely put bulk purchases of cheese to good use, but unless that's the norm, you probably don't want to buy huge packs of brie, havarti, or other cheese for just general meal planning," she says.

Ground Spices

Ground spices
MaraZe / Shutterstock

Ground spices aren't commonly known to go bad, however, they do lose their flavor with time. So buying them in bulk won't help your cooking skills in the long run.

"If you just want to replenish your supply, know that you probably won't be able to use them all up before they lose their potency," says Ramhold.

And if you insist on buying spices in bulk, Ramhold suggests buying whole spices."This is a good way to go as you can grind only what you need when you need it and the whole spices will last longer," she says.

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Skincare Items

Woman putting on skin cleanser.
Cast Of Thousands / Shutterstock

"If you have the option to buy something like face sheet masks in bulk, you may want to reconsider," says Ramhold. "Even if the price is excellent, if you don't use them all before they go bad, you'll have to toss out any that are leftover. While they might not harm you to use, they also probably won't provide any benefit by that point."

Other skincare products like cleansers and moisturizers usually only have a shelf life of three to six months, so buying these items in bulk can be a waste of money and space in your bathroom. No one wants to see an expired bottle of retinol cream or dried up eye serum on their bathroom counters. Sorry, bank account!


Woman applying sunscreen.
verona studio/Shutterstock

You may be trying to do something proactive by stocking up on sunscreen before summer, but buying this product in bulk may not be as smart of a choice as you think.

"This is a product that loses its efficacy over time and you definitely don't want to take risks with something like that and end up with an awful sunburn," says Ramhold. "Unless you know for sure you'll be using it up, skip buying it in bulk and buy smaller amounts you can realistically use from big-box stores like Target instead."

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Prescription pills that are blue.
nito / Shutterstock

"Since people take over the counter medicines as needed and they have an expiration date, it's best to buy smaller containers," says Woroch. "Otherwise, you run the risk of throwing away medicine and wasting money."

Don't fret, there is still a way to save money on many common medications: Using the generic version of popular name brands can help save you some pretty pennies.

"Generic meds are required to work as effectively and safely as their name brands, so you can save without sacrificing," Woroch says.

Lauren Jarvis-Gibson
Lauren Jarvis-Gibson is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Her work has been published in Teen Vogue, Allure, HuffPost, and more. Read more
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