Buying certain foods in bulk has a lot of advantages, but it can be an overwhelming way to shop if you're used to buying “normal” amounts of food every week. It can also be frustrating to start buying bulk foods since you do have to shell out more money up front in order to do so. The truth is, I have shopped both ways and bulk shopping is really the way to go for a couple of reasons. I'd like to share a bit about my experience as well as some tips you might find handy if this is something you would like to undertake!
Benefits of Buying Food in Bulk
- Save money in the long run. For example, regular (non-organic) whole wheat flout is 78 cents per pound at my local grocery store. That is the best price I have been able to find in my area. But when I buy organic whole wheat flout from in bulk from Azure Standard, I only pay 50 cents per pound for a higher quality, healthier product.
- Shop less. I actually enjoy grocery shopping, but since adding another member to our family it is much more of a chore than it used to be. Buying bulk foods allows me to shop much less often.
- Feed impromptu company. Having a lot of food on hand at home means you're always ready to whip something up if family or friends stop by.
- Be ready for emergencies. A good supply of food at home comes in handy when you face a financial or other type of emergency. It's good to be prepared!
How to Afford Bulk Food
- Eat really cheap food for a few weeks. It's not a very fun plan of action, but eating frugal meals while you save up the money to start buying bulk foods is one option. You don't really have to save either, you can just jump in and make your first bulk purchases with your normal grocery budget and then eat a lot of whatever you buy until you have more money to spend on other foods.
- Split the cost with other families. You won't have as much food on hand, but you'll all be paying a much lower unit price for the food you buy!
- Don't spend “leftover” money. When you get rolling with buying food in bulk, you'll find that your monthly food budget fluctuates. The first couple of months, you'll likely spend more than usual if you don't use either of the other tips above. But there will also be months where you spend much less than usual. In those cases, don't go out and spend all the “extra” money (I love calling money “extra” – hahaha!) on treats and snacks! Just put it aside for when it's time to restock your staple foods. It can be helpful to look at the big picture and try to set a yearly food budget rather than a monthly one.
What to Buy in Bulk
- Baking supplies – vanilla, yeast, cocoa, sugar
- Almonds or other nuts
- Other household items like toilet paper, feminine stuff, razors, diapers, etc.
Where to Buy Bulk Food
- Azure Standard – I like to buy organic flour and some baking stuff like cocoa and arrowroot powder from Azure, and I usually get a couple of produce items with my order as well. If you live near a drop point I highly recommend checking them out! I also buy olive oil through Azure.
- Sam's Club – They have awesome deals on baking stuff like yeast and vanilla.
- Costco – We don't have a Costco in our area (yet) but I hear they have really good prices on a lot of healthy foods and even some organic options.
- Vitacost – You guys know I loooooove Vitacost! I buy honey, whey powder and supplements through them. If you check them out, signing up through my link scores us both a $10 credit. 🙂
- Local farmers and gardeners – We buy our meat in bulk locally and I also sometimes find deals on produce which I then preserve.
- Mountain Rose Herbs – Can't recommend them enough for bulk spices, teas, and supplies to make personal care items. The quality of everything I've gotten from Mountain Rose Herbs is unmatched.
- Amazon – They have just about everything you could think of, including storage options, all in one place. Be sure to look for “free super saver shipping” items to score free shipping when you spend over $25! (Easy to do when you're buying bulk food.)
- Abe's Market – Known for all things green and natural, there are some goodies here – look for the “splurge” items like chocolate, coffee, and snacks more than the basic bulk items, though.