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How to store your bulk-buy goods

Kitchen pantry

Credit: Derek Jensen/Wikimedia

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You might be hesitating about bulk-buying if you're wondering where you're going to find room for it all! Not everyone has a huge pantry or laundry cupboard to store bulk purchases, so you've got to plan ahead to make the most of the room you've got.

Firstly, let's look at our pantry cupboard. A kilo or two of dried beans sounds like a genius move for your purse and the environment, until you try to carry or store it using the flimsy plastic bags most shops provide.

Bring your own containers to the shop if you can, or transfer your purchase to something more durable when you get home. I like square plastic air-tight containers, since being square means that they sit snugly next to each other to save room. And for things like olive oil, tea or coffee, put a small amount into a smaller container that's more convenient to use every day than a giant box.

Fresh foods can be frozen for months at a time. Milk, bread and meat are the obvious choices here. But did you know you can freeze cheese, butter (I do this with small amounts in case I suddenly want to bake biscuits when the shops are shut) and lots of fresh vegetables as well? Check out this list of ways to freeze various foods from the USA's Center for Home Food Preservation.

A chest freezer can help you store a lot of food, although you do have to weigh up if the extra electricity it needs is worth it to you. Even if you're just using a normal freezer, it's handy to keep a list on the side of what's in there, when it went it and when it has to be used by.

As for your bulk laundry and toiletries: they're more likely to be sold in containers suitable for long-term storage, but you might still need to decant them into smaller containers for everyday use. You can rinse out and re-use the last normal-size container you bought.

But if you're anything like me, the best tip for storing your bulk purchases will be this: declutter your cupboards! Get rid of the old stuff you don't use anymore (responsibly, by taking it to a charity or using Freecycle or other swap sites) so that you've got room for these more useful bulk purchases.