Things You Should Never Buy in Bulk

Don’t fall into the “more is more” trap. These items have a shorter shelf life than you’d think, meaning it doesn’t pay to go big.

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Hanging spice rack
Photo: Andrei Kuzmik /


The container might claim the herbs and spices inside don’t expire for up to four years, but that’s under the assumption that you store them correctly. Moisture and heat from your oven could get to spices stored above the stove, and paprika and chili powder do best in the fridge. While you won’t get sick from old spices, they could start losing flavour after a year. Buy smaller containers and replace them once the quality declines.

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Bottles of bleach on store shelf
Photo: ZikG /


Believe it or not, liquid bleach has an expiration date. Once open, it only takes about six months for it to become less effective. If there’s no way you can get through a bulk-size jug in that amount of time, a small bottle of generic brand liquid bleach might be the best value.

Got more bleach than you know what to do with? Put it to good use all around the house with these brilliant bleach hacks.

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Mayonnaise in fridge
Photo: robin gentry /


Even though they tend to have a lot of preservatives and are stored in the fridge, condiments won’t last forever. Once you open a jar or bottle, it’s a matter of months until it goes bad. Mayonnaise, for instance, should only be left in the fridge two months after opening, according to the USDA, though ketchup can last closer to six months. Leave the value-sized bottles at the store and pick up a smaller size for your family.

Here are 20 foods you shouldn’t store in the fridge.

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Man applying eye cream in mirror
Photo: Ground Picture /

Skincare products

Every time you stick your fingers in a tub of skin cream, you let in germs and up your risk of contamination. Plus, a lot of skincare products will start losing effectiveness within three to six months. Stock up on the items you go through fast, but go for small pots over big tubs for the products you might not use up.

While you’re at it, check the labels for these potentially dangerous ingredients.

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Ground coffee
Photo: Michelle Lee Photography /


While ground coffee won’t hurt you even three to five months after its sell-by date, old grinds will lose their fresh taste and pleasant aroma. For a mug your barista would approve of, go for small bags that were roasted within a couple weeks. If you’re looking to buy instant coffee, though, might as well buy a bigger container—it can last for years.

Discover the best coffee roasters across Canada.

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Whole wheat flour
Photo: OMfotovideocontent /

Whole-wheat flour

Flour is a go-to thickening agent for sauces and soups because it attracts water. But that also means it will attract moisture from the air, making it turn musty. While all-purpose flour can last up to a year, whole-wheat and nut flours could go bad in just a couple of months because they contain oils. When these oils degrade, the flour will start to smell funky.

Next, find out which expiration dates you should never ignore.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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