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Bulking up



As a kid I remember being massively impressed when my Italian school friend walked me through his parent's garage and showed me a wall stacked with groceries.

Jars of olives, shampoo, washing powder, toilet paper, dog food, tinned tomatoes and, of course, pasta: there was boxes of the stuff his mum had purchased in bulk and laid in next to his dad's Cortina.

All Mrs Maniaci needed to add was a couple of ninja swords, a rope ladder and some antibiotics and she was surviving the zombie apocalypse and smelling great doing it.

For the past 20 years, I have fought the urge to become Mrs Maniaci and buy in bulk.

Do it! Get six of 'em, never again will you feel the despair triggered by the sound of a butter knife scraping the bottom of a jar of Vegemite at 3am!!

But something stopped me.

It'd go to waste.

It could spoil.

I might have to move house and my mate Johnnie the Fish (who owns a ute) would see I had 50kg of laundry powder in my shed and that'd be embarrassing.

I'll just get more when I need it.

Granted, this minimalist approach also leads to walking like a crab to find newspaper when one runs out of toilet paper but I just couldn't get my head around being that person who had eight tubes of toothpaste under his bathroom sink. It felt ... pathetic.

Parenthood changed all that because if there's one thing you don't want to happen when a wriggling child has poop shooting up their back, it's to run out of baby wipes. Or nappies.

Seriously, when a child is snarling like a koala in a bushfire and leaking number two onto your bed, you get desperate; you'll use your best shirt to staunch the flow if you can't reach anything else, so it pays to be prepared.

Baby wipes and nappies were my gateway drugs to buying in bulk, one because you can never have too many nappies and two because baby wipes are the single most utilitarian invention since gaffer tape.

There's a saying gaffer tape is like The Force from Star Wars because it's black on one side, white on the other and holds the universe together.

Well, baby wipes are what cleans up the universe after it's vomited blueberries on your couch.

Give me a packet of baby wipes and I'll tidy up the scene of a triple homicide so thoroughly the cast of True Blood wouldn't even pop a fang. I reckon you could mop up magma with enough baby wipes.

I have 'em everywhere. Car. Toilet. Bedroom. Kitchen. And I buy at least 10 packets at a time. It's changed me.

It's introduced me to the smug, adult world of not running out of stuff - of there always being another jar of peanut butter when you rummage, hung-over, through your pantry on a rainy Saturday morning.

You're never late to a date because you had to sprint to the shops to buy more toothpaste cos you're stocked. Sexy, eh?

I may have cupboards that look like they've been provisioned by a 55-year-old Italian woman but then, I'm entering that romantic demographic - at least, it's who I get messages from on RSVP.

That's because I know what women want.

It's groceries.

And a shed full of Omo.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.



  • A part of me still wants to be that slack uni student with nothing in the fridge but wine and gherkins and half a lemon and a few lipsticks. And yet I too have to try to grow up and be organised enough to have at least the basic groceries in backup. But then you have to store them. My husband and I wage a constant battle on this front. He is happy only when there are five bottles of Rinse Aid under the sink. Which take quite a while to get through. A couple of years in fact.

    And Sam you forgot to mention nappy bags. Years after our children stopped wearing nappies our super bulk pack of 600 is still going. Great for cleaning the cat toilet.

    Date and time
    April 16, 2013, 9:57AM
    • You don't want your better to have OMO - Old Man's Out. Almost as bad as having a box of FAB in the window sill - F(&^@$ arsehole is back.

      Public Joe
      Date and time
      April 16, 2013, 9:59AM
      • Just turn it upside down to read Old Woman Out. Old trick.

        Date and time
        April 16, 2013, 1:13PM
    • Plus you can tell your new date you're saving the universe by reducing all those trips to the supermarket.
      One of the many benefits of becoming adult is becoming organised and being able to plan ahead.
      let's face it - you do feel smug when after you've ran out of something - there is the replacement right there proudly stepping up to perform its service.

      Date and time
      April 16, 2013, 10:03AM
      • I wish I could buy in bulk. I baulk at the prospect of buying the 18 pack of toilet roll, my unit is so small. These days modern apartments have little storage beyond the bog-standard so unless you're lucky enough to land yourself a boomer with a garage, forget it.

        Date and time
        April 16, 2013, 10:10AM
        • @ ymq

          Do yo have a garage? If so, install a shelf at the back of the garage that's high enough for the front of your car to fit under. You can store heaps of stuff on the shelf, and it'll all be in easy reach.

          Sloane Square, London
          Date and time
          April 16, 2013, 11:40AM
      • women are better liars,men are amateurs ,and dont even know it.The woman hide in the closet ,or , when old and desperate,the pantry as you suggest

        Date and time
        April 16, 2013, 10:14AM
        • When I was younger we didn't have wet wipes. My mother used to spit on a handkerchief to clean our face/hands when we had somehow got dirty from walking from the car to the entrance to school or church ect.

          Still traumatised to this day.

          Date and time
          April 16, 2013, 10:19AM
          • I grew up in a house where minimal stocking was the order of the day. We barely had anything like a 'pantry' - just some stores of tea, coffee sugar, cereal and the like in a cupboard. My dad would pick up stuff for dinner on his way home from work each day. There was not a lot of 'invenroty' in our family.

            My boyfriend was horrified when, once we moved in together, I argued that a big weekly shop was unnecessary and filling your kitchen with provisions just promoted clutter. As usual, my boyfriend ultimatly got his way and we now must be one of the few gay couples in Melbourne with a Costco membership. While I am not totally sold on stocking up on food, it certainly makes sense to have a big store of things like paper products, washing powder, etc. Running out of those is a major irritation.

            Date and time
            April 16, 2013, 10:25AM
            • There was a chap called Maslow. He learned about our hierarchy of needs. Our basic needs for food and shelter must be met before we can self love or love others (self actualise).

              If you had gone without (emergency services estimate three days), the need for basics is heightened.

              Stocking up isn't foolish. It's cheap therapy so you can focus on what's important.

              Date and time
              April 16, 2013, 10:33AM

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