One great way to spend less money on healthy foods is to buy them in bulk. Because bulk foods are minimally packaged, buying in bulk allows you to buy the foods you love at a lower price per unit compared with their heavily packaged counterparts. Alright, let’s continue below for some tips on buying food in bulk.
What not to buy in bulk
- Perishable Foods- Generally speaking, perishable foods (those that require refrigeration) should not be bought bulk, unless they will certainly be used up in a timely manner. For example, it may not make sense for me (a single college student) to buy 5 dozen eggs at a time, but for family of seven this may prove to be an economically sound choice. Foods that are bought in bulk, but are not used before spoiling do not save you money.
- Foods With High Fat Content-Although is may seem like buying 15 pounds of nuts and a gallon of cooking oil will save you money as a bulk purchase, but most people don’t realize that foods with high fat content go rancid rather quickly. Nuts will spoil within 4-6 months, and oil within 3-5 months. Again, unless you can actually utilize that much of these products, it is best just to buy the amount you need.
- Spices– With the exception of spices like black pepper and salt that you use on an everyday basis, spices are usually not worth buying in large quantities. Although spices don’t spoil, their flavor intensity does diminish with time.
- Foods That Aren’t Healthy- When the goal is to buy foods for cheaper to maintain a healthier lifestyle, it is not wise to invest your money in junk food. Buying things like chips, cookies and candies in bulk will likely increase the amount of these foods you consume. My advice is to just buy a small portion of these products if a craving should arise.
Although these foods are not typically great candidates for buying in large quantities, there are still ways you can save money on them. Often times the “bulk” section of the grocery store allows you to buy as much or as little of a product as you’d like. For example, Instead of buying an entire container of a spice you only use once or twice a year, you can shop in the bulk section and buy only the amount you need, saving you money and ensuring the freshness of that spice. For more tips on shopping smarter, including how to buy perishable foods for cheaper, visit my page Tips for Smarter Shopping.
Foods to Buy in Bulk
– Cereal for many Americans constitute the first meal of most mornings. Because it is typically quickly used, and has a long shelf life, cereal is a smart product to buy in bulk. Often times bulk stores, like Costco, offer your favorite brands in larger than normal quantities for less per unit cost. Another option is to stock up on your favorites when they go on sale at your local supermarket.
– Beans are a wonderfully nutritious food loaded with fiber and having 8 grams of protein a serving. Beans are great to buy in bulk because they don’t take a lot of room to store, and they can sit unspoiled for an entire year. Beans can be bought in bulk at most grocery stores in (depending on the variety of bean) 2, 10, and even 20 pound bags. Typically the larger quantity you buy, the cheaper they are per serving.
– Pasta is another great food to buy in bulk with a shelf of 2 years! One option for buying pasta in bulk is to wait for it to go on-sale at your local grocery store and stock up then. Another option is to buy it at a whole foods market allowing you to buy as much as you will use , at a lower price. One thing to remember with pasta is opt for the whole wheat option, as it contains 3 times the amount of fiber than regular pasta.
– Grains, like beans are wonderful to buy in bulk as they take little room to store, and most have a rather long shelf life of around a year. One exception to this, however is brown rice. Brown rice contains slightly more healthy fats than do other grains and so spoil quicker, having a shelf life of only around 6 months. Brown rice is highly nutritious, however, so instead of leaving it off your list, just buy as much as you think you will use in half a year. Grains can be bought in large quantities at most supermarkets in (depending on the variety) 2, 10 and 20 pound bags with prices typically going down as the quantity purchased goes up. Another great place to buy a variety of grains are whole food markets, which often offer a greater variety of grains to choose from at lower prices per unit than smaller prepackaged quantities.