Manage bulk purchases by numbering multiple packages of the same item

Given how much interest there is around knowing each others' bulk buying habits, R's multi-pack-management hack seems well-timed:

I shop every week at a warehouse club and frequently stock up on multi-packs of items I will use over several months, such as three large bottles of catsup or three boxes of coffee filters. Many times, I've bought a three-pack of something, only to find a package or two from the previous purchase that was hidden at the back of the cabinet.

I now use a Sharpie to number the individual items when I bring them home so

a) I know if I have any left that may be hidden, and
b) I know when I need to add that item to the shopping list.

Such a simple way to solve a frustrating (and expensive) problem! Amazon Subscribe & Save users: take note.

Any other tricks for keeping track of, storing, or managing bulk purchases?

Related: Make a diaper caddy out of a bulk diaper carton


  1. says

    When I do this with boxes of checks, I always note the total number of boxes as well as the item number (1 of 3, 2 of 3). It works like a charm at keeping me from losing boxes or forgetting to order.

    What a great idea to use it with bulk supplies! It would keep me rotating pantry stock as well.

  2. Alex says

    Not for bulk, but I write the sale price (often unit price) of items on the package. That helps me remember if it is a good deal next time I see something on sale.

  3. says

    We keep a roll of colored toilet paper for when we buy a big pack of regular toilet paper. When the only roll left is the colored one (or we see the colored one on the shelf), we run out to get more.