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Buying Food in Bulk

You can save money by buying food in bulk, but there are things to consider such as storage. This is a guide about buying food in bulk.
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5 found this helpful
July 20, 2012

I live in a smallish town where shopping is limited and, as with a town with little, competition prices are high. I have learned to keep the pantry and freezer stocked. Twice a month, we go shopping. We make a trip 20 miles up the road. Armed with our list, we visit several stores that we frequent. Once we get home, the real work begins. I admit it does take a while to "put food by" this way, but when storms loom on the horizon, you won't find me rushing to a store, fighting a crowd, for milk and bread! Not only do I save money doing it this way, I am able to control the portion size better!
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One of the stores we go to is a "day old" bread store. Loaves of bread there are approximately 1/3 the cost of the very same bread purchased at a store. This bread will freeze in our chest freezer for a month without any type of burn. We also pick up Angel Food cake bars, along with hamburger and hot dog buns. Later in the evening upon returning home, I will slice the cake, wrap each piece in a section of plastic wrap, and place in a large freezer bag, and place in freezer. It is a snap to take out what we need and allow it to thaw when ready to use. Since we do not use the buns as fast as regular bread, I do the same to it.

Then we hit the "stock up" store! We buy several gallons of milk, some I will separate into clean jugs to freeze. I also keep boxes of powdered milk on hand. I have found that you cannot tell the difference in it and what you buy from the dairy case. (We use skim milk.)

We also buy cereal and crackers here. They will be placed in clean mason jars at home, and the lids vacuum sealed, using my jar attachment on my foodsaver. They will be as fresh the day I open them as the day I placed them in the jar! I also have jars of candy sealed, left over from holidays! That way the kids do not gorge themselves, I can dole it out a little at a time.

Although I am a home canner, we also stock up on canned goods. We buy "flats" of 12 cans. I will date the box with a marker, and place this box under the ones previously purchased.

Meats I will divide up. Using my foodsaver, I will vacuum seal them in small portions. Some items, like shaped burgers, I will flash freeze first, then vacuum seal.

We also buy no-name diet soda here and find it tastes the same as name brand. Yes, I know a lot of people feel soda is a no no, but we like it, so we purchase it. It is about 1/2 of what the name brand will cost at the local stores.

Occasionally, we go to the warehouse club, too. There I will buy a 5 pound bag of shredded cheese. To store this, I will place a half cup into a snack size baggie, I will zip it closed leaving a small opening and insert a straw into the bag. I suck out the air and zip it closed. I will put these bags of shredded cheese into a larger freezer bag and freeze.

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We purchased large bags of frozen fruit there, too. Since they come in resealable bags, there is nothing else we need to do with them.

While there, I like to visit their deli section, and purchase a 10+ pound loaf of such meats as baked turkey breast or low fat honey ham. We ask them to slice it super thin. (They call it shaved or wafer cut.) This I will separate and vacuum seal them to freeze.

They also carry foot long hoagie rolls which my family loves. I will do them like I do the angel food cake. I will cut it into 4 portions per roll, wrap each portion in plastic wrap, place them in a freezer bag, and freeze.

Other items I keep on hand is yeast (kept in the freezer), wheat flour (kept in the freezer), rice (vacuum sealed in quart jars), and a variety of spices and seasonings.

Plus I keep extra personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper on the shelves in the basement pantry.

It does take a bit to get the knack of things. Keeping track of what you have, rotating items, etc. And to stock up it does cost a bit more to begin with, but it is worth it for us. In the past, I found that running to the store just to pick up an item we were out of cost a lot of money! Not only the cost of the gasoline to go to the store (we have no public transportation here), but it seemed that I would always impulse buy. By staying out of the stores, I keep more money in my purse.

When the cold wind blows and snowflakes swirl through the air, I can decide to make a huge pot of chili. I feel good knowing crackers are just a step away!

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February 10, 20160 found this helpful

Being a city girl, it is so easy to not plan ahead. However, with the CDN dollar dropping (we live north of the border), I've begun to rethink how I shop. Stocking up and buying bulk goods has now become part of my shopping life. Also, and this is so important for those of us who do not live in warmer climates, whether you're in the USA or Canada, buy local fruits and vegetables as much as possible. The further it has to travel, the more it's going to cost. Add in the exchange rate, and well, you get the picture. Thanks for your great tips.

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3 found this helpful
February 9, 2009

Buy yourself a tall $30 bookcase then, using two L-brackets, secure the top of your bookcase or shelves to the studs in the kitchen or garage wall. Next, simply wedge a spring rod inside the shelf about 1 inch from the top and fold a bedsheet, a piece of fabric or hang a curtain that matches your room's decor over the rod. These spring-rods are sold at Walmart, Home Depot and IKEA.

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Spring-rods come in many sizes and the length can be adjusted in one of 2 ways depending on the type you buy. One type gets larger and smaller simply by turning half of the rod clockwise or counter-clockwise. Another type uses a screwdriver to turn a screw at the base of a spring to adjust the size. Spring-rods come in white or gold and cost from $2 to about $8. You can thread the spring-rod through the hem of a sheet (after removing several inches of stitching at either side of the hem) or simply fold your fabric over the rod so the fabric covers the whole bookcase and you can't see your food.

The least expensive bookcases come in a box and you need to assemble them yourselves. They usually come in white, black and a fake woodgrain. My favorite place to buy them is a liquidation store like "Big Lots" or Thrift Stores because that's where you'll get the best prices. Be sure to look around, they go on sale often at Target and K-mart and every store has different prices. I recently bought a set 72 inches high by 4 feet wide brand new for only $30, these were melamine over particleboard.

If you want real wood, you'll need to paint or stain them for easy cleaning. If they need painted, I suggest you paint them to match your walls. You'll wonder how you ever lived without this extra storage space!

When I was younger, I raised 4 kids and didn't have enough cabinets to store all our food when we bought a tiny house. Against one bare wall in our kitchen, I simply put in a row of matching shelves and hung curtains on each to hide the messy food. Costco, here we come!

* A Note: Sometimes it's cheaper to buy shelves made for garage use instead of home use.

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April 7, 20120 found this helpful

A picture would help so much, could you do another post with a picture?

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June 20, 20051 found this helpful

Buy in bulk grocery items that you use on a daily or regular basis. Take it home and either down size it into smaller containers or a large bin. These items will be much cheaper than it would be for several smaller jars or containers.

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October 10, 2016

Buy in Bulk

Bulk items are a great way to go in order to save money and eat healthy. These varied items will help you avoid all the excess packaging that most food products come with now again. They tend to be cheaper than packaged, brand name products as well.

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4 found this helpful
June 5, 2011

Most people that cook meals at home use canned tomatoes throughout the year. When I go to Costco, I buy a number 10 can of a name brand diced tomatoes in its own juice for about $2.75.

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May 13, 20121 found this helpful

Photo of two boxes of Pop Tarts.

Be careful not to always grab for the biggest package assuming you are getting the best deal. Sometimes the smaller version may be on sale, making it cheaper. Believe it or not, sometimes they actually charge more for the "bulk" version of products.

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1 found this helpful
October 5, 2011

As part of my frugal shopping plan, I often buy products in large quantities to save money. That means I have to repackage some of those items once I get home.

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1 found this helpful
September 9, 2013

We make things from scratch and like to try new things, but we have limited space. I buy pasta, grains and dried beans in bulk, but I only buy one kind at a time, enough to fill up a half-gallon mason jar.

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March 14, 2012

We purchased a second freezer a year ago. Instead of getting rid of the old one, we now use it as a place to keep leftovers, extras such as flour, cornmeal, bird seed, and items we find on sale and buy in bulk.

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0 found this helpful
February 20, 2012

Smaller sized cans of vegetables are intended to attract buyers who cook for just one or two people. The convenience may seem nice but buying small size cans means you're actually paying more for the item than if you purchased a larger can.

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February 7, 20080 found this helpful

The next time you empty an herb or spice jar, don't throw it away. You can refill it at your local health or natural food store since most have big jars of bulk dried herbs. You can buy just a little baggie full for about a quarter. Most of the cost of grocery store herbs and spices are the name brand, advertising, packaging and shipping. You'll be amazed how much you'll save.

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May 15, 20040 found this helpful

Buying food products in bulk can save you time and money. You can buy in bulk through the supermarket, food cooperatives, buying clubs, farmers' markets, and warehouses.

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February 7, 19990 found this helpful

Shopping at the warehouse stores gives you gallon size containers which are cumbersome. The small size sport squirt top water/drink bottles are great for holding a manageable supply of oil, soy sauce or vinegar.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

1 found this helpful
September 13, 2011

I am attempting to buy grocery items in bulk. Any suggestions or tips?

By Crystal from Zebulon, NC

Answer Was this helpful? 1
September 13, 20110 found this helpful

Buying in bulk allows you to take advantage of sales and stock up on things when they're cheap. Also, dried legumes are really great for saving money. They are inexpensive and easy to make.

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September 14, 20110 found this helpful

Check the price per pound rather than the package price to find the best deal. I know my supermarket sometimes runs deals where it's cheaper to buy the smaller packs of rice or pasta rather than the large bags.

Also I only stock up on the things I use regularly. There's no point in having a dozen cans of pumpkin taking up space in the cupboard if you only have pumpkin pie twice a year!

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September 15, 20110 found this helpful

Make sure you have room to store your bulk buys, and don't fall into the trap of buying a bulk quantity of something your family will never touch. Oh boy, I learned that one the hard way!

One of the best bulk buys out there is the case of freezer zip-lock bags. Very handy to have around, and can be used to store other bulk buys like the rice that comes in the 5-10lb bags inside a case (seen that, it's handy to have rice and flour come that way, makes it easier to store and use).

Another very helpful tip I got when I started buying things like rice and flour in the case loads is to put the food into the freezer for a couple of weeks to kill off any critters that may have hitched a ride. Then drop the bag of flour or rice into a freezer zip-lock bag to stack on your pantry shelves.

Best tip? Watch the 'best by' or other expiration dates. Sometimes a bulk buy is a clearance of things way past their shelf life.

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

October 3, 20060 found this helpful

By Rachel Paxton

Shoppers have enjoyed the convenience of buying in bulk for a number of years. My own bulk buying experiences have been hit and miss at best, but I recently discovered just how convenient buying in bulk can be.

There are a number of advantages to buying in bulk:

When you buy in bulk it's a good idea to get your cupboards in order. There are a number of ways you can store bulk items:

A key to bulk storage is labeling. Make sure all containers are air-tight and clearly labeled and dated. Bulk items have a long shelf life because they have been prepared with long-term storage in mind. For more bulk storage ideas see http://www.nursehealer.com/Storage.htm.

I've always wondered if bulk items are as fresh as packaged. In my experience bulk items have been very fresh--even raisins! You'd be amazed at all the things you can buy in bulk. Here's a partial list to get you thinking of the possibilities:

Baking:

Grains:

Dried Fruits:

Beans:

Pasta:

Nuts:

Vegetables:

Originally published at Suite 101. Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For information about What's For Dinner go to: What's For Dinner

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