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Cheaper By The Dozen?

This week's living off the smell of an oily rag report is about a "B" word, bulk.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman 

This week’s living off the smell of an oily rag report is about a “B” word, bulk. It’s one of those words that gets oily raggers excited because it usually means an opportunity to make good savings. But as some readers point out, that’s not always the case.

  • M.M. from Auckland writes, “Anyone who buys the dozen pack of eggs, just have a quick look at the price of the 1/2 dozen pack, as I always find you can save anywhere between 2cents and 20cents by buying two of the 1/2 dozen packs instead of one dozen pack.”
  • A member of the oily rag club has sent in this comparison of flour prices for standard flour bought online from Woolworth.
  kg cost
 cost per kg
 1.5 $1.95 $1.30
 Homebrand  5.0 $6.99 $1.40
 Champion  1.5 $3.78 $2.52
 Edmonds 2.5 $6.49 $2.60
 Edmonds 1.25 $3.65 $2.92

As expected the house brand is cheaper by a long stretch (about half the price!), but it is also interesting that the 1.5 bag is cheaper on a per kg basis than the 5kg bag. It just goes to show that sometimes buying in bulk is not cheaper!

  • C.P. from Napier says, “Buy products like baking soda, spices, herbs and other baking products from the Bin Inn. I bought wild bird seed there yesterday and it’s half the price of the supermarket for the same product, also things like fennel seeds are a lot cheaper than in the supermarket and epsom salts and baking soda.   Some things are the same price as the supermarket but there are savings to be had and also if you take your own container.”
  • Cathy says, “I bulk buy bananas, peel and cut either in 1/2 or 1/3s. Put them in the plastic bag and put in the freezer, whole. They last pretty well and I slice them up in the morning and put them directly into my porridge mix.”
  • D.N. from Taruanga writes, “I buy bulk onions when cheap and chop and freeze, saves time and money and wastage from onions sitting in the cupboard. Also slice up mushrooms and freeze in snap lock bag – great for a quick spag' bowl meal.”
  • While on the subject of bulk vegetables, Rocky from Napier writes: “I grow silver beet – however don't always eat it all. I also had a problem with the plants going to seed as I didn't pick it fast enough. Now I just pick and chop up and freezing in bags works nicely. Bags can also be reused. When I cook I just put the frozen silver beet in.”
  • Bulk also applies to pets! J.B. says, “Our dog developed an allergy to red meat (very common in older dogs.) The vet recommended a diet of cooked rice, vegies, and a little dried dog food. He advised us to buy the cheapest rice and cook it up in bulk and to add carrots and greens. When we had chicken, she had the leftovers as well. She lived another 8 years on this diet and was very healthy and happy.”

And that’s the word bulk. Share your bulk buying tips with others by visiting the oily rag website ( or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at