Items like grains, honey and white rice are great to buy in bulk because they (almost) never expire.
But some items don’t make sense to buy in large quantities even if the price is right. You’ll end up wasting your money unless you have an immediate need for it, because the shelf life isn’t very long.
Here are some of the worst shelf life offenders:
Sunscreen is one of those things that definitely needs to be fresh. Most sunscreen will stay good for a couple years when stored in a cool and dry place.
But if you’re anything like me, you take it to the beach with you or leave it in the car, and it can actually go bad within a few months.
Basically, if you’re not going to use your stash of nuts within 6-9 months (three months for pistachios), seal them in the freezer, or stick to a smaller portion.
3. Olive oil
Olive oil only lasts about six months after opening the bottle.
Although Costco sells tempting Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil in three-liter containers, ask yourself if you actually plan to use that much within the next six months.
Eggs last about three weeks from the date of purchase in your fridge. So unless your family goes through eggs fairly quickly, stick to smaller cartons instead of the 24-egg cartons at a warehouse store.
You can get great prices on spices in the bulk food section, but they lose their flavor after about six months.
6. Moisturizers, face creams and eye creams
Bacteria starts growing in beauty products the second they are used or opened. Don’t open any beauty products you won’t use within six months.
7. Dried fruit
If you decide to buy dried fruit in bulk, it’ll only last about 12 months when stored in a cool place (like the fridge).
Make sure you plan on using granola within about six months of buying it.
9. Veggie chips
Veggie chips only last six months when you buy them in bulk — but they don’t even last a week in my house.
Condiments like mayo, mustard, ketchup, jelly and Nutella last anywhere from 6-12 months.
11. Baking essentials
Who hasn’t pulled out an old bag of flour or brown sugar and wondered whether it’s alright to use? Here are the general guidelines for baking supplies:
- All-purpose flour: 12 months unopened; 6-8 months once opened
- Granulated sugar: 2 years unopened; 6 months once opened
- Brown sugar: 4 months unopened; 4 months once opened and stored in a freezer
- Baking soda: 18 months unopened; 6 months once opened
- Baking powder: 6 months unopened; 3 months once opened
12. Peanut butter
Peanut butter can last about 6-9 months unopened but lasts only 2-3 months after it’s opened.
Bleach stored at room temperature has a shelf life of about one year. So unless you plan on doing some serious cleaning, buy smaller jugs.
14. Brown rice
Uncooked brown rice will keep for up to six months in your pantry or up to a year when sealed tight in the fridge or freezer. Surprisingly, white rice can last up to 30 years (whoa!).
Unless you plan to eat brown rice often enough to use it up before the shelf life runs out, go for smaller brown rice portions you know you’ll eat.
15. Anti-aging or acne products
Most of these products can last up to one year, depending on the ingredients. Acne and anti-aging products containing benzoyl peroxide, antioxidants, retinol, glycolic acid and vitamin C have a shelf life of three months once opened.