Buying in Bulk for Beginners
I’ve been meaning to put this post up for ages but…life. As of mid next week though one of the many balls I have in the air can be tossed to the side. In any case, in June I went bulk buying for the first time and now is actually a great time to evaluate it because I haven’t had to shop this month. I went to Tucha in Nairobi West because several of my friends have recommended it (It’s next to the McFrys). I learned a couple of lessons about being a newbie at the wholesale store that I will now share with you.
Have your list at the ready
The way Tucha (and I suspect other shops) is set up is you first have your order rung up by the lovely lady behind the cage. It’s not like a supermarket where you walk through aisles picking what you want. There’s usually a long line so best get there early and know exactly what you’re going to ask for. By that I mean, know how much of what you want to get and in what size it comes in. It’s important to note that at Tucha the minimum purchase of singular items is 3 e.g. 3 bottles of tomato sauce. So on your list, make sure you write out how much of what you need as well as the size e.g. Clorox, 5 litres or Drinking Chocolate 500 grams. The more info you have, the easier a time you will have. Feel free to ask what brands they have and prices as well. The woman behind the counter is remarkably patient but, go early so that if you’re like me, you don’t feel rushed.
Go big on the non-perishables
My biggest spends during my trips were things that tend to run low in the house pretty quick. Toilet paper, detergents and other cleaning agents as well as food that keeps are what I bought in bulk. If you’re feeling shy about buying so much in bulk, then buy essentials. I would buy stuff you know you will definitely use (family or not) like toilet paper, dish washing soap and detergent then see how you fair with that. With kitchen items, you might want to take some time out to think it through. Personally, I bought rice, tea bags, drinking chocolate (blame the pregnancy on this one), tomato sauce and cooking oil. Which bring me to my next piece of advice…
Make a storage + use plan
I bought 5 litres of cooking oil as well as bleach so there had to be a plan for storing them away and using. Before you go crazy at the store, make sure you have figure out where you will store your stuff. Luckily, we have plenty of space in the house though since it was a trial run, I only needed a little room in the wardrobe. I kept the stuff in the carton they gave me at the shop.
The problem with big bottles of stuff is you tend to use more than you actually need so separating out into smaller bottles means you get more use out of your bulk stuff. I have an old Heinz Ketchup bottle that I pour oil I am using into. It’s great because it squirts rather than pours oil and it saves counter space. If you don’t have one lying around, buy a squirt bottle from any supermarket. Your oil (or anything else) will go a lot slower than it usually does. As for stuff like bleach, just keep an old smaller bleach bottle and pour it out into that.
Shop with a friend
The best tip I can offer a first timer is to go with someone. One is because it’s nice to have someone to figure out things in the new setting. Two is so you have someone to split stuff with. I went with my mum so a lot of the things where we had to buy three of, I gave her one and kept the other two. Some stuff, we split evenly. It’s an easy way to cute back on costs. That shopping trip was 9K in total and I didn’t have to shop again this month so approximately 4,500 Kes for two months worth of stuff is pretty good to me. For August, I just had to top up on perishables and the luxury items (meats, cheeses, deli meats etc) which made the pocket a little easier to deal with.
Still rough around the edges when it comes to bulk shopping but I instantly saw how much better it was than buying stuff at the supermarket.
Are you a bulk buyer? I’d love to hear some of your tips! And if you’re willing to give it a try this month, let me know how it goes!