When you think about buying foods or other items in bulk, you might picture an underground bunker in some remote area with enough supplies to survive a zombie apocalypse. Bulk buying is no joke, however. If you have the space, stocking up can be an excellent, budget-friendly way to fill your shelves with foods and other items routinely needed in your daily life. (See also: Organize Your Pantry and Save Cash)

As you can imagine, bulk buying is an art. It requires careful planning to achieve the best savings and lower risk for spoilage. When done right, this method of shopping can yield big returns on the investment of both time and money.

If you’ve ever scanned the unit prices on your favorite grocery items, you’ve likely noticed that those in larger packaging/quantity typically cost less per unit than their smaller counterparts. In much the same way, those items in the bulk bins — sans packaging — are even less expensive in comparison. If you cook or use certain items more often than not, it’s in your best interest to buy and buy big to yield the biggest savings.

Here are a few more benefits:

Less packaging means less waste and is, therefore, a smarter environmental choice.

Buying more at once saves on time and also gas and other related expenses.

Without conforming to pre-measured, packaged amounts of food, you are free to choose how much you need for yourself or your family. This scalability is smart for a number of reasons.