You know the true sign you’ve reached adulthood? No, it’s not renting a car, buying a house, drinking alcohol or having a job with benefits. It’s the day you purchase a membership to a wholesale store. As you push your oversized cart through the 4,000 aisles, picking up giant bags of salad and 42 gallons of milk, you wonder how you ever shopped any where else. But if you’re a military spouse, you quickly realize that this wholesale store has the ability to take your care packages to the next level.
Wholesale stores are great for bulk shopping and can often save you money on care packages, but it’s important to shop smart! Following a few care package bulk shopping tips can help you get more bang for your buck and make the most of your marathon shopping trip.
Care Package Bulk Shopping Tips
Make sure your loved one likes the items first.
Would there be anything worse than buying 40 packets of chunky peanut butter only to find out that your loved one will ONLY eat creamy peanut butter? Bulk shopping is inherently risky because you end up with A LOT of one thing and it can take a long time to use up. Stick to only purchasing known favorites in bulk; that includes brands, flavors and actual items.
The second piece of this tip is to make sure your loved one wants the item. For example, when my husband is deployed, he often sticks to a very healthy diet. As good of a deal as the 10 count package of microwavable pasta meals may be, they would go to waste because he wouldn’t eat them.
This same tip can be applied to toiletries as well. Sometimes new brands can cause skin irritations or just not smell great. Stick to brands and scents that your loved one normally uses. Always check with your loved one to make sure you’re sending what they want…what they really really want. (Sorry that was lame.)
Choose things that are individually packaged.
If you play your cards right, you can turn one wholesale store trip into contents for multiple care packages. One way to stretch your purchase is to buy items that are individually packaged. For example, instead of buying a box of crackers, buy a box of 10 individual-sized bags of crackers. This way you can send them over a period of time instead of all at once. It keeps you from having to shop each time you send a care package and helps keep your loved one from getting sick of one single item.
Make sure your items will fit in the shipping box.
As awesome as flat rate boxes are, they do have a limit to what fits in them and oftentimes bulk shopping means bulky packaging that won’t easily fit in your care package. This is why I highly recommend purchasing things that are individually packaged!
If you do choose something in a single package, make sure that it fits in your shipping box and can withstand the journey overseas. Wholesale stores often cut out excess packaging (like the box around a bag of cereal) in order to save money and that can lead to the item getting ruined (like a full bag of crushed cereal).
Don’t over purchase.
It can be really tempting to over purchase at a wholesale store. Things are less expensive, you get a lot and it’s all right there in front of you. Before you know it, your cart is full of of great things and you’ll save so much money! But the cost-saving benefits of shopping there are quickly ruined if you end up throwing away the majority of what you purchase.
Before you put something in your cart and wheel it to the checkout line, make sure to ask yourself if your loved one will a) like it b) use it and c) consume it all or share it with others.
Does your loved one really need 42 granola bars, 20 Nutella packs, 25 individual peanut butter packs and 30 containers of tuna? Will they be able to consume them before coming home? Will they WANT to consume all that before they come home?
Try and limit your shopping trips to just once or twice a deployment so that you don’t go over board.
Don’t impulse buy!
This is goes hand-in-hand with my tip to not over purchase! Wholesale store impulse buys are hard to resist. Because they’re set up slightly differently than traditional grocery stores (and change up their products frequently), you often have to go up and down every aisle in order to find what you’re looking for. They count on you picking up one or two more things along the way.
This impulse buying could potentially reduce any cost savings you’d accumulated and may lead to wasted items if they aren’t all used.
My local wholesale store doesn’t always have the same products two visits in a row. That can make repeat purchases or shopping from a strict list difficult. When I go searching for care package contents, I usually have a few things in mind that I’d like to find, but stay open to other items. Some of my best bulk care package buys have been items that I wasn’t expecting to find!
Buying in bulk doesn’t always save money.
One of the main points of following these care package bulk shopping tips is to save money, right? Well if you don’t pay attention to the price-per-unit of items, you may not be saving as much as you think. Not sure what price-per-unit is? This website has a good explanation. While wholesale stores aim to keep that price-per-unit as low as possible, it’s not entirely impossible to find a better deal elsewhere.
Remember that if you over purchase (and then trash extras) or buy things that your loved one doesn’t like or won’t use, you’re also reducing the amount of money you save.
By following a few care package bulk shopping tips, you can make the entire care package process cheaper and easier for you! With all that ends up on your plate during a deployment, knocking out a large portion of your care package shopping in one trip is definitely a time and sanity saver.
Do you shop in bulk for care packages? Have any tips to share with us?
Want even more care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.