When it comes to buying in bulk, admittedly, the savings can be a hit or miss.
For example, stocking up on the wrong things can lead to waste and spoilage. However, buying the right items in bulk at the grocery store, local health food store and co-op, or directly from the farmer can be a great way to slash your monthly grocery bill and save a small fortune.
But, that’s not the only reason to shop bulk!
Defining Buying in Bulk
Before we go any further, let’s make a quick clarification — the buying in bulk that I am talking about should not be misunderstood.
I’m not referring to shopping for bulk buys at the members-only, big box stores like Sam’s Club and/or Costco. That’s a whole different animal and represents a very different type of “buying in bulk”; one often associated with excess and waste.
The bulk purchases I am referring to are the kind you’d find occupying an entire section or aisle at your local grocery or health food store. These bulk bins usually offer all sorts of foods — from dried fruit to nuts to dried beans, grains, and herbs.
Buying in bulk is not limited to the grocery store. Often times, large sacks of grains and beans can be purchased directly from the farmer at a fraction of the cost, making bulk merchandise one of the most frugal ways to slash any grocery budget.
This style of purchasing food lays the groundwork for my monthly grocery budget and underpins my ability to feed our family. Many people question the benefits of buying in bulk and ask if it’s really worth it. The simple answer is “yes”!
But read these benefits and decide for yourself…
The Benefits of Buying in Bulk
There are countless benefits to buying in bulk. Many of the benefits look different for every family.
In my own personal experience, I have found the following advantages undeniable, and they have fueled my love for buying in bulk.
Protects the Environment
When we purchase bulk items we are, as a by-product of our actions, reducing our carbon footprint. By eliminating the need for wasteful packaging, buying in bulk lessens the amount of trash that ends up in garbage dumps. Likewise, the transportation of goods is simplified, thereby easing the burden of CO2 emissions.
When done correctly, buying in bulk can save an average family up to 50% on their monthly grocery budget. It allows me the freedom to buy products that would be undeniably more expensive if purchased in smaller amounts. For example, organic pastured meats suddenly become more affordable when purchased in bulk, directly from the farmer.
Buying in bulk allows me to avoid daily, and even weekly, trips to the grocery store. Having what I need on hand at all times is a tremendous time saver.
The benefits of reduced waste when buying in bulk have been known for years. This method of purchasing goods allows the individual the freedom to determine an exact amount of food that is needed, decreasing the quantity of food wasted when using pre-packaged products.
Helps to Promote Local Sustainability
Whenever there is an ability to obtain goods directly from the producer, in this case the farmer, it should be made a priority. Buying in bulk can provide even deeper savings when purchases are made straight from the farm. Planning ahead for storage of 25-50 pounds of grains and/or dried beans is worth the effort if it’s food you and your family regularly eat.
Allows for Personal Accommodation
Plainly put, buying from the bulk bins offers you the opportunity to select the perfect amount of food. And there’s no pressure to pay for something you won’t use. Instead, you are able to choose exactly what you need; whether that’s just enough cumin to spice up that new beef recipe or plenty of quinoa to make a big batch of salad.
Are you ready to learn more!?!
Because I’m passionate about saving you money…I am happy to freely give you a PDF copy of my eBook Buying in Bulk.
Dwight R. says
Buying in Bulk is definitely a great way to save time and money. There are a great number of bulk stores out their including Sam’s and BJ’s that will allow you to buy items in bulk orders instead of one item at a time.
Good coverage! I have discovered buying in bulk and love it. In our almost empty nest (our door is still revolving, but turns back inward less and less often), that means going to an organic grocer and buying just enough beans, grains, herbs, etc. for my husband and me. Sometimes, I even remember to bring my mason jars to avoid using plastic to get things home. (They weigh the jars and store that information so I’m only paying for the product.) This is probably the single most significant influence on my kitchen since starting the switch to organic and grass-fed.
Thank you for this PDF and for sharing how to buy in bulk. Here in Tasmania we have a lot of local farmers but no network for buying direct from the farmer. I often buy potatoes in 10kg sacks but we need a map of farmers who are willing to sell direct to the public so that it would be easier to approach them. Cheers for the PDF and the idea…I am going to approach my local Sustainable Living group and see if we can’t get a map started 🙂
Amy U says
Anyone who has access to bulk buying would be amazed at the savings, esp spices. It’s difficult to do where I live and am SO jealous when I travel and see rows and rows of beautiful inexpensive organic bulk food in other cities. And sadly, not many people buying.
Diane Falk says
What blows me away is the Spice Section in the grocery store! Those stupid little bottles cost a FORTUNE!! MANY times, I’ve noticed people looking for the spices there. I always make a point to ask if they have a local CoOp…and if they still have the containers their spices came in. Yes? Then, go to the CoOp and buy enough for the jar! Bet it won’t cost more than 25 cents! You’d be AMAZED at how many people just don’t think of it!!!
Amanda Schoonover says
Thanks for this post! Buying in bulk is one of those things I keep “meaning” to do, but in reality, I’m just not sure how to do it exactly. I am also nervous about the prep time for bulk items, like beans, grains, etc. Plopping the soup out of a can or box and it being ready in 10 minutes is just so easy. But I need to go the extra mile because it’s the right thing to do. Thanks for the reminder and tips. 🙂
I love buying in bulk! I shop at the East End Food Co-op here in Pittsburgh and bring my own containers–like Stefanie said above, the weight of the empty container is subtracted from the total weight so that they charge only for the product. It’s great being able to choose the type of container I want my food to be in and the exact amount I want to buy. Most spices are a GREAT deal in bulk, and so are a lot of other foods like wheat bran (<10c/cup!), lentils, peanut butter, tea, and raisins. They even have some convenience foods like granola and crunchy little sesame sticks that my dad loves. They also have bulk liquid soaps.
The health food stores are a great idea, but consider also restaurant suppliers. We buy in bulk from Hillcrest Foods here in upstate New York, and though it takes some effort (and contact with their staff)to figure out the catalogue, the savings can be tremendous. I am sure there are similar suppliers in other parts of the country that allow for direct sales to the public. Since the marketplace is starting to demand organic, non-GMO, gluten free etc, there are lots of options in those catgories. What I like is the absence of excess packaging. Buying from them means transferring your purchases into separate containers for storage, but after an initial investment in these you’re good to go. I use the 4tgallon food grade plastic ones from Lehman’s and they have kept flours and oats far longer than you might think. (Hate the plastic-long term would love stainless steel “tanks”.)
Thank you for posting this! A great reminder to get my bulk order together 😉
Julie Thomas says
I continued to buy in bulk after running my own restaurant for years. It’s so handy and saves quite a bit on our grocery bill. Thank you!!!!