How will you spend your summer? Hopefully it will be filled with long days at the beach or lake, rooftop parties, weekend getaways, potlucks and more. That all sounds like heaps of fun, but there's just one little issue. All of these events require one very basic but increasingly expensive essential: food.
Yes, amazing as it would be, we can't live on sunshine and surfing. We'll need various forms of sustenance to get us through summer (as we would any other season). With more things to do this time of year, we may even find ourselves increasing our food budget -- no easy feat in this inflation-blown economy.
For many -- particularly those with kids -- buying in bulk is an ideal way to save money on groceries. But some retailers are better than others. Let's explore your best options for buying in bulk this summer.
"You'll find plenty of bbq staples at Costco, including huge packs of buns for hamburgers and hot dogs, as well as produce for sides, enough bakery desserts to feed a crowd and drinks to stock the coolers with," said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. "Whether you're hosting one huge bbq or several grilling sessions over the summer, it's worth checking out what your Costco has to offer, especially as the unit prices are often markedly better than what you'll pay in regular grocery stores."
"Much like Costco, this warehouse club will have all the things you need for your summer get togethers, from meats and buns to condiments and desserts," Ramhold said. "As a Sam's Club member, you can also opt for picking up your order rather than shopping for it yourself, which can make life much easier and give you more time to handle other party planning needs. Prices are great and you're just able to buy more of an item at once rather than having to pick up multiple smaller packages to get what you need."
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"While not a store known for bulk shopping, you can find great deals at Target that make picking up multiple packages worth it," Ramhold said. "Be sure to sign up for the free loyalty program Target Circle so you can find offers like 25% off soda 12-packs, $1 off LightLife hot dogs, 20% off mixers, 30% off coffee creamer, and promotions for savings on quintessential summer items like 30% off ice cream bars, 20% off frozen fruit bars, and 15% off Target exclusive wines, including ones that are best served chilled on hot summer days."
You may be scratching your head at this recommendation, but Amazon has a great (albeit not terribly well advertised) selection of brand-name foods that you can order in bulk. Everything from canned tuna to snacks to freeze-dried fruit is available and, true to Amazon's style, items are competitively priced. A box of 24 Pedialyte Sport Electrolyte Powder pouches goes for $39.96; at Walmart, the same product retails for $43.92.
Some of the best savings opportunities at places like Dollar Tree come in the form of bulk orders. Let's say you're hosting barbecues all summer long and need some essential snacks on hand: You can get a jar of jalapeno cheddar cheese dip for $1.25 -- if you get the case of 12. That comes to $15 total. Similar products go for more than double the price on sites like Instacart.
Just how serious about buying in bulk are you? If you're looking to stock up for not just the summer, but the whole year, or perhaps for the unknown duration of the apocalypse, then your best bet might be heading over to AllBulkFoods.com, where you can find pretty much anything edible that you can imagine. You probably won't find prices that deeply rival other bulk shopping havens like Costco, but you will find a profoundly larger and more eclectic selection. There are also tons of coupons available to "clip" at this online megastore.
Access to wholesale prices with no membership fees tacked on? Plus free samples and loads of coupon codes? Hello, Boxed! Launched back in 2013, this startup is disrupting the status quo of bulk shopping and establishing itself as a fine alternative to traditional warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam's Club. Not only will you find tons of food items to stock up on here, but you'll also find virtual lanes of cleaning, health and beauty products -- so don't forget to add a case of sunscreen to your cart.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Costco, Amazon and 5 More of the Best Places To Buy Bulk Food This Summer