Sarah Robinson, clarkhoward.com
I’ve been a frugal mom for the past 19 years. At first, it was out of necessity, and now it is out of habit. Throughout the years, I have figured out the best ways to save money on groceries for my large family of nine.
Why buy food in bulk?
- To save money: When you buy food in quantity, you can save some serious money. I’ve found that I can save as much as 50% on an item by buying more of it at once.
- To start a food storage system: By starting a food storage system full of shelf-stable foods, if a natural disaster or any other emergency happens, you will be able to eat.
- To shop less often: If you’re like me, you don’t have time to go grocery shopping all the time. If you have a bulk supply of foods, you won’t have to go as often.
What foods to buy in bulk
Apples can last several months in a cool, dry place. Of course, you could also process them into applesauce, apple butter, etc., but in general, if you buy several bags of apples, or better yet, pick several buckets of them, they’ll be fine for a long time, as long as you don’t wash them right away.
I love to buy lots of strawberries when they’re on sale because they’re so easy to freeze. Did you know that you can even freeze them with their greens still attached? If you freeze strawberries for smoothies, you can easily throw the whole strawberry with the greens still attached, into the blender. It is edible.
3. Onions & peppers
If you find a great sale on onions and peppers, you can totally stock your freezer with pre-chopped vegetables. Recently I found bags of red, yellow and orange peppers for only $1.50. I bought several and chopped them up to save for future meals. If you’ll be cooking with them, you’ll never notice that they were frozen first.
This is probably my favorite grocery item to buy in bulk. At our local grocery store, shredded cheese costs nearly $5 per pound. But, when I go to a membership store, I can get it for around $2.75 per pound. This is a huge savings! We make so many recipes that call for cheese, I always keep a 5-pound bag of it in my refrigerator and two more in the freezer.
I prefer to buy my spices by the pound, rather than by the bottle. Spices last for years! Typically, if you buy them by the pound, you’ll spend less than you do on some of those little bottles.
6. Dry pasta
This is another food that has a very long shelf life. You’ll need to do your due diligence to be sure that it is not in an extremely humid environment, but pasta will last for months, if not years, as well.
7. Canned goods
I like to buy these in bulk when we go to Aldi, because they’re the cheapest there. Typically, I buy a case of canned goods at a time, so that I always keep a well-stocked pantry. If you choose to do this, be sure that the items you’re buying are things you use up on a regular basis.
I like to keep a food-safe bucket in my kitchen full of oats.This has helped me save so much money on breakfasts through the years. By buying it in bulk, I save about $1 per pound, when compared to typical grocery store pricing.
When I see a sale on meat, I always grab it, if the price is low enough. Meat is usually the most expensive grocery item in your meal, so this is a great area to do some bulk shopping. In the past, we’ve found ground beef on sale for $2 a pound and we loaded our freezer up with as much as we thought we could eat in the next several months. We also buy a side of beef from our local farmer, which can save several dollars per pound, depending on the cut of meat that we are talking about.
5 things you should think about before buying in bulk
Now that we’ve talked about all the amazing foods that you can buy in quantity, I want to be sure you think through whether it’s right for you. Before you make your bulk-food-buying decisions, go through these questions one by one and make sure buying that food is right for you and your family.
- Do you have enough freezer space?
- Do you have enough pantry space?
- Will you truly be saving money?
- Are you likely to waste any foods by purchasing this much?
- Do you eat this food often enough to warrant buying it in quantity?
[Editor’s Note: No matter how you buy your groceries, you don’t want to throw too much on your credit card and fall into debt. The interest rate on the card might just eat up your savings and the balance can hurt your credit score. You can view two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.].
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