Grocery

12 Household Essentials We Always Buy In Bulk Online

Another way to make the most of our Amazon Prime accounts.

by:
July  6, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland

Going to the grocery store every time I run out of toilet paper or laundry detergent is such a drag. Don’t get me wrong, it usually means I can pick up some more ice cream but having to carry a large and unwieldy package of TP or drive 20 minutes just to get two things is not my idea of a fun time.

That’s why I buy most of my household essentials in bulk on Amazon, either through Prime, Fresh, or its Subscribe & Save options. All three give you the ease and convenience of shopping in your PJs, but there are slightly different advantages with each one.

You already know what Prime offers—free 2-day shipping on literally everything—while Fresh is more like a traditional grocery store with produce, snacks, and general household items in bulk and everyday sizes. My personal favorite though is Subscribe & Save, an underrated subscription service. You can subscribe to products (also in bulk or everyday sizes) and score an extra discount up to 15 percent with each shipment. It’s easy to change the subscription cadence so you’re not stockpiling TP, or just cancel if you no longer want the item. It’s truly a “set it and forget it” situation and I’m genuinely delighted to receive my quarterly shipment of compostable trash bags.

Since we know we had you at “shopping in your PJs,” here’s what we buy in bulk on Amazon.


Laundry & Cleaning

1. Method Liquid Dish Soap Refill, 6 Pack, $42.59

Our director of content Brinda Ayer likes getting Method’s dish soap refills in bulk because it checks one more to-do item off her list. “The bulk refill containers allow me to top up my current dispensers for months on end,” she said. “Plus, I can ‘set it and forget it,’ signing up for a repeat version of the same box at intervals that fit my household needs.”

2. AYOTEE 4 -6 Gallon Biodegradable Garbage Bags (100 Count), $11.60

I’ve been using compostable bags for years in an effort to cut down on my plastic usage. I’ve used a few brands but have had the most success with this one, though garbage with sharp edges might cut through sometimes.

3. Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pods (62 Count), $16.97

For something so small as dishwasher pods, they can be really heavy! That’s why I prefer to get them online in bulk so I can use that time saved to catch up on Fixer Upper before the new season drops.

4. Tide PODS Free and Gentle Laundry Detergent Soap (96 Count), $20.37

It’s the same situation here with laundry detergent—why and how are cleaning pods SO heavy?

5. Brawny Flex Paper Towels (12 Rolls), $26.59

While I use cloth napkins and reusable towels for most things, there are just some projects that require a traditional paper towel. I like how you can customize the size with these so you’re just using what you need.

Shop on Amazon, $11.60 Photo by Amazon
Shop on Amazon, $18.97 Photo by Amazon

Personal hygiene

1. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap Refill (6 Pack), $35.72

Ayer regularly bought Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap refills in bulk back when Amazon Prime Pantry existed (RIP) and I’ve also been a loyal subscriber for years. Not only is it the best hand soap ever (don’t @ me), but each large refill can fill two or three dispensers in my household so they last a super long time.

2. Quilted Northern Ultra Plush Toilet Paper (24 Rolls), $21.31

When we asked our team what they buy in bulk, everyone said TP, TP, and more TP—and understandably so. They’re annoying to carry and even more annoying when it runs out—often in the middle of the week. While you can grab a pack the next time you’re at the store, why not save yourself the trouble with a subscription that’ll last you two months and save some change, too?

3. Mighty Patch Original - Hydrocolloid Acne Pimple Patch (36 Count), $11.88

Since I’ve been wearing masks so often, I subscribe to these hydrocolloid patches (which come as a 36-count pack) for maskne—you know, the acne you get after wearing a mask for hours.

4. Kleenex Ultra Soft Facial Tissues (8 Pack), $13.29

Eight boxes of tissues might sound a bit silly, but you won’t be laughing in the middle of allergy season.

Shop on Amazon, $11.88 Photo by Amazon
Shop on Amazon, $21.31 Photo by Amazon

Food & Drink

1. Vita Coco Coconut Water (12 Pack), $15.30

Short of sticking a straw into a coconut, I live for my monthly subscription of Vita Coco. Buying them in bulk has saved me so much more money than grabbing a few here and there every time I go to the grocery store.

2. La Croix Sparkling Water, Variety Pack (10 Pack), $13.69

Unless you’re looking for an arm workout, buying La Croix online is such a game changer.

3. Nongshim Shin Bowl Noodle Soup (12 Pack), $10.43

I’ll usually buy a huge box of Nongshim ramen at H-Mart but seeing how the closest one is more than an hour away from me, I’ll stick to buying it online, thanks.

Shop on Amazon, $13.69 Photo by Amazon
Shop on Amazon, $10.43 Photo by Amazon

What do you buy in bulk online? Tell us in the comments below!

This story was updated in July 2021 with more bulk items our team loves buying online and to reflect the discontinuation of Amazon Prime Pantry.

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate affiliate, Food52 earns a commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

The All for Farmers Market

We’ve joined forces with Tillamook to support All For Farmers—a coalition benefiting farmers across the nation—with a special market that gives back. Featuring Shop all-stars and a limited-edition Five Two apron, a portion of proceeds from every purchase supports American Farmland Trust’s Brighter Future Fund.

The All for Farmers Market

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • J
    J
  • xhille
    xhille
  • hirinfotech
    hirinfotech
  • Natasha
    Natasha
  • Dianna James
    Dianna James
Jada Wong

Written by: Jada Wong

Jada is the market editor at Food52 with a decade of experience writing and editing for online publications such as Refinery29, Cosmopolitan, and Insider.

22 Comments

J July 6, 2021
Although my choices are different for all of these items, I totally agree that Amazon Prime rocks! I live in the middle of nowhere, with an itty-bitty grocery store, and AP kept me supplied with all of the essentials I needed during the pandemic. And, as always, the prices on so many items are literally a fraction of what I would have to pay in town.
 
xhille July 6, 2021
how does an article with today's date (by an author whose account is two months old) have comments from april 2019 and january 2020?

i understand that this is one person's simple perspective on things to order in bulk online.... but really jeff bezos doesn't need any more of our money..... he's already got enough to buy two joyrides to space.

i would have preferred alternatives more focused on lowering carbon footprint (have they minimized packaging? are they using recycled materials? is it biodegradable?) and treating workers better..... for the most part, these products aren't particularly innovative.

heck, nearly any instant soup can be done just with hot water instead of on the stove, without having a disposable cup. major packaging and cost savings right there with minimal effort.

one thing that *is* great about this article is the reminder that ordering a product online wastes less time and uses less gasoline than going to the store for one or two items... and why not get things in bulk that are regularly used in quantity? having products delivered as part of a route is going to use far less gasoline in that last mile to your door.

if you do have the option, i'd order through a local chain grocery or co-op instead.... you can often request items that aren't on the shelf, and many offer case discounts. and do what you can to minimize extra trips: either do all your shopping at once, or combine smaller shops with other trips, like getting groceries on your way home from work.
 
Author Comment
Jada W. July 7, 2021
Thanks for your comment, and for reading Food52. We regularly update our stories to ensure they're still accurate and relevant, and in this case, the original story from 2019 needed a refresh since Prime Pantry was no longer available. Whenever this happens, there's a little disclosure at the bottom of the story to add context and help with any confusion around older comments. We also really value, and appreciate, your comment about supporting local chain grocery or co-ops, and do speak to that fairly often as well as the benefits of buying in bulk in general and minimizing kitchen and pantry waste. There are no perfect answers, as you rightly suggest, but we hope we can offer information and guidance for the choices people make.
 
hirinfotech January 8, 2020
Hey, Your blog is very informative. It is nice to read such high-quality content. Attractive information on your blog, Thanks for sharing!

 
iData Consultant
 
Natasha April 8, 2019
Hi Food52 Team,
Is this article a paid testimonial? Is Food52 or the author, receiving any compensation for it from Amazon? If yes, Food52 and the author need to disclose that clearly and conspicuously per U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules on testimonials and advertising.
I agree with other commenters who have discussed the adverse ecological impacts of Amazon's packaging. I also think a lot about the carbon footprint involved in getting all these boxes of things shipped to us, including basic things like paper towels and soap. The total environmental impacts between the packaging (throw away cartons, etc.) and delivery (carbon pollution) is staggering. Recycling the packaging helps some except that we now know that China, which took a huge amount of our "recycling" off the U.S.' hands, is not interested in taking our garbage anymore, including "recylables". It sounds like a lot of our recyclables are going into U.S. landfills at this time. That in itself is pretty shocking.
And then there are the other non- recyclables in the online supply delivery chain - those millions and millions of air pockets/bags generated every year and used as padding inside the delivery packages. There is no easy or convenient way to return these to Amazon or any other retailer for the air packs to be re-used.
I think it should be mandatory for Amazon and other online shippers to have convenient drop-off spots for consumers to return these air packs and online shippers like Amazon should be required to re-use them.
If we're concerned about the environment -and we really all should be- than we have to evaluate our buying habits and their environmental impact. Online purchasing provides major convenience and major, negative environmental impact, too. All of us who use Amazon and other online providers to have goods delivered to our doors, are responsible and own this.
Our household has cut way back on online purchases as a result. We shop a lot more locally. We also pay a lot more attention to products that use less packaging and more environmentally friendly packaging like paper rather than plastics.
 
Brinda A. April 9, 2019
Thank you for these thoughtful comments, Natasha. This article isn't a paid testimonial—some of the team just uses these items in our homes, and thought it might be helpful to share with the community.
 
Smaug April 9, 2019
Those air packs- the ones made of a series of tubes filled with air- can easily be deflated by holding a sharp blade in place and pulling the strip under them; they are then recyclable (they are HDPE). Unfortunately, plastic recyclers receive a huge amount of garbage and have a tendency to toss things that aren't instantly recognizable, so there's a good chance of them ending up in landfill anyway.
 
Michele April 9, 2019
Interesting comment. A couple of points to follow on. Until recently Amazon would ship single items purchased but apparently this style of shopping has crippled major cities with huge increases of delivery vehicles bringing single items. Amazon now has stricter policies on how they ship. I am waiting for the day when they have so much control, and the monopoly, they will decide when your delivery happens. Also, regarding the packaging in the UK there is a move at the moment to return all plastic and unnecessary packing to retailers as shoppers there are more aware of pollution and excessive packaging. They actually unpack their food in the supermarket and leave the excess with them to deal with. Hopefully online retailers will see the wisdom and reduce the amount of excess packaging to help, along with manufacturers.
 
Jacob C. April 10, 2019
I like how you state your household has cut way back on online shopping! Like it's okay to bash this article because you only do it every once in a while....give me a break. Hypocrisy at it's finest!!
 
Natasha April 10, 2019
Jacob, it sounds like you may live far from any stores so have to rely on Amazon and other online merchants to order the majority of items you need for daily living.
Thankfully, our household lives 2 blocks away from an independent, family-owned grocery store where we shop for food and household items, a Trader Joe's 1 mile away for other items, and have a twice weekly farmers' market in our town where we often ride our bikes to buy food grown in our area. We try to shop carefully and mindfully, and we don't buy a lot of stuff. We try to shop local as much as possible - whether at our local bookstore, local baker, or other smaller merchants.
We've also taken other steps to be more "green", such as removing all our lawn 2 years ago and putting in a native plant garden. We do what we can, in our own way, to try to live in a more environmentally friendly manner. If we care about the planet, it's important that we each think about what we can do in our daily lives, to be good stewards of the "Blue Dot" that we live on.
 
Dianna J. April 8, 2019
Did I miss something OMG
 
Alice F. April 8, 2019
For me (over 70 with health issues) Amazon is a Godsend. Shopping with my husband is rarely a pleasant experience (he’s a very negative person). With Amazon, I can get what I want quickly and pleasantly. It’s outstanding for hard to find equipment and ingredients. We do plenty of local shopping for things I don’t need to see, although Amazon’s descriptions and the reviews are very helpful. We recycle paper and plastic and cardboard. My county offers curbside recycling.
 
Toby M. April 8, 2019
Why no prices?
 
Smaug April 8, 2019
I don't think that, strictly speaking, this is a paid ad: at any rate, Amazon prices are constantly shifting and often items are available from multiple sellers at different prices.
 
Michele April 8, 2019
No. I understand the convenience but I would recommend purchasing from a local supermarket and using a delivery service. Amazon has taken over the market and is putting small shops out of business, treat their staff like slaves and have far too much power. No competition isn't a good thing and their original cheap pricing and convenience has changed retail completely - and I don't think for the best.
 
Brinda A. April 9, 2019
Thanks for reading, and for your considered comments, Michele.
 
Gammy April 14, 2019
Amazon is doing to America what Walmart has done to small towns over the last decade. Offer convenience and one-stop 24-hour shopping and soon the smaller stores, who offer better prices along with keeping most of the money local won't be able to compete. My local chain grocery ran a special Friday on the same size Bounty paper towel package shown above. Amazon price = $10.49 Ingles grocery = $5.47. I bought 2 packages and saved $10.00 over the Amazon price.
 
JenniferJ April 8, 2019
I definitely can appreciate the convenience here, but I really struggle with all the packaging of buying things like this from Amazon. It feels to me like creating that much waste is not worth the trade off of convenience. I also feel guilty about the delivery people having to lug around the heavy stuff. It’s funny: I don’t feel guilty about a lot of things, but that one definitely gets to me.
 
jecca April 8, 2019
I feel you. There are definitely ways Amazon could reduce its packaging, but those of us without cars already have a much reduced carbon footprint, and it's our best option for buying in bulk - which often reduces the overall packaging. I don't feel guilty about the delivery people - they're better equipped to carry that stuff than I am, and they get paid for it - BUT I often opt out of the free one- or two-day shipping to give the warehouse workers a break, which probably doesn't make any more sense!
 
Smaug April 8, 2019
Very good point about the packaging- not only is it wasteful- even if it's recycled- and I think the amount of tape and labels on Amazon boxes is making it difficult to sell to recyclers- that's a pretty wasteful process. When you start talking about things like paper products in bulk that's some pretty big boxes; personally I kind of like cutting up boxes, but observation of my neighbors indicates that most of them do not.
 
ktr April 9, 2019
I live an hour from the nearest city, so I order a lot of things and am very grateful for the option to do so. The packaging is wasteful but for me, so is driving an hour to get toilet paper.
 
Smaug April 9, 2019
True, often there is no really neat solution. I don't drive, so Amazon is very convenient for me for a lot of things. I'm fortunate to have a Safeway in walking distance- if you're careful to watch for sales their prices are OK on paper products.