Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Buying Bulk

My husband has been encouraging me to buy more grocery items in bulk. It is not a new idea. I buy yeast in one pound packs and oatmeal in ten pound bags. I try to do a once a month "big" shopping trip with rarer quick grocery shops.

But Ed knows quite well how challenging shopping is with little ones. I thought I was managing three children well, but shopping with four put me over the edge! I love my children dearly, I just don't like taking them shopping!

Ed has encouraged me to think about the items I buy regularly and purchase a six month or one year surplus.

So my first move in that direction was honey.
I buy my honey from a friend who raises bees. A few years ago, one gallon of honey lasted us a whole year. As our family grew larger and I've replaced honey for white sugar in many of our recipes, our honey consumption has rapidly increased. The last gallon I bought did not last much more than two months.

Each time I run out of honey means a call to my bee-raising friend and organizing some way to get the honey from her since we don't live near each other. By purchasing a five gallon bucket of honey (60 lb) I saved myself (and my friend) phone calls, car runs, and general hassle for an entire year or more.

A few more thoughts as I consider making more bulk purchases...

Money - Buying it bulk means a larger immediate cash outlay. Since this was my husband's idea, he generously gave me extra cash to use for these extra purchases.

Savings - But buying in bulk can often mean savings in the long run. My friend generously gave me the wholesale price on the bucket of honey. I'm looking into finding the best prices on other grocery staples.

Quality - Obviously some items can't be bought in bulk because they will spoil before being used. Honey can last indefinitely without spoiling making it a safe choice.

Storage - I have plenty of storage space in my basement but before making any more bulk purchases, I need to get some more buckets. I don't want the mice to find my stockpile!

I already make many bulk purchases. When I buy fruit and vegetables and can and freeze for winter, I'm making a one time purchase to last me a year. My goal is to look at the things I purchase regularly that can be stored (mostly baking ingredients), find the best quality and price, and make some more bulk purchase this fall.

Do you buy in bulk? I love to hear where, how, and any other experiences or tips you can share!


  1. I love buying in bulk. I hate the extra initial cost, but love knowing it's there when I need it. I mostly buy flour, baking soda, salt, yeast,and maple syrup in bulk. I'm still working on storing supplies we use often ( sugars, some pastas, oats, etc..) but it's hard to store them here. We have a damp basement and I really wish I didn't have to store my home canned stuff down there either. I love what you do and you inspire me on days I feel overwhelmed. It's nice to know there are others out there with my sense of family and home :) Thank you

  2. Gina - I love everything about buying in bulk. I belong to a local buying cooperative that allows members to make purchases offering wholesale pricing for items that a wholesale option would otherwise not exsist. Through the buying club I am able to purchase grain, beans, coconut oil, coffee, butter, vanilla beans, supplements,maple syrup, herbs, seasonings and on and on. I agree that it can mean a large outlay of money at the onset but I think it offers signifigant savings over typical weekly grocery store purchases. Looking forward to reading more as you progress in this adventure!!

  3. We buy in bulk!

    I buy oats, dried beans, wheat berries, spelt, and rice in 25lb-50lb bags. We then transfer the contents into mylar bags sealed inside plastic 5 gallon buckets.

    I also buy bread flour in 25lb bags from Costco and buy my olive oil there in large containers.

    My yeast is in 2.5lb packages. :)

    We buy chickens 20 at a time and this year we bought 1/2 a steer.

    Like you, I'd much rather make a few big buying trips than lots of little trips here and there.

    I'll go to the grocery store for things like veggies/fruits I can't buy at the farmer's market or don't grow myself. We also still buy milk at the grocery store because I haven't found a local dairy farmer.

  4. I do a lot and I buy several things like some flour, sugar, olive oil and spices from Sam's Club although I don't use much white sugar anymore. They have a "Click N Pull" that you can do online and order everything online and they will have it ready for you to pick up at the service desk the next day. I started doing this as I had more children. While I don't get my more healthy stuff there I can get several things.

  5. There have been many times when i considered buying in bulk. But I don't cook nearly as much as I should. I am afraid it would go bad before it was used. I usually read my blogs through bloglines so I just saw the changes you have made. I LOVE that your recipes are all easy to access now. Thank you!! I have plans to make the apple pie filling very soon.

  6. I really agree with Ed. My husband and I try to keep a full month of food on hand, and buy in 3 to 6 months at a time. I love doing this with Chicken and hamburger because I can prep it and freeze it in one day - then for 3 months I only have to make side dishes. Dinner time is much more smooth. Also, you'll start to learn when the big sales are and you'll get your food cheaper. :).

  7. doesn't the honey harden in the bucket if so what do you do in that case?

  8. I love bulk buying.
    I buy wheat, oatmeal, honey, sugar, yeast, popcorn (for popping and grinding into cornmeal), pork (ha, we are raising a pig to, well, you know...), sea salt, oil, and some other stuff as well.

    I get most of my stuff through a local co-op and some through Sam's club as well.

    I don't like going to the grocery store.

  9. I love hearing how all of you buy in bulk - sounds like I'm in good company!

    I would love to hear more about the buying co-ops that some of you mentioned. How do you find one in your area?

    About honey hardening - yes, honey does crystallize into sugar. Heating honey converts it back to liquid again. I keep a smaller jar of honey in my kitchen to use out of. I place this glass jar in a pan of water on the stove and heat to liquefy the honey.

    As always, Thanks for all your tips, insights, and encouraging words.

  10. Gina, One of my favorite bulk buying tips is to always buy at least a one month supply of whatever meat is the lowest price that week, assuming you have a freezer to store it in. By doing this, you build up a nice variety of meats that you can use anytime.

  11. Wow, that honey is amazing! I also love to buy in bulk because it saves time on trips to the store. I also belong to a local food co-op.
    Just wanted to let you know I love your site and your recipes!

  12. Gina, I just found your blog recently and really enjoy it especially the gardening tips and recipes.
    Here's a tip for storing honey.We buy local honey by the gallon and store it in the freezer in smaller containers.It doesn't freeze solid and it doesn't crystallize either. This works for maple syrup as well.
    God Bless

  13. Bulk buying is fantastic! Since we live in an apartment, I've had to get really creative with storing things. But we buy our WW flour in 50 lb bags, and store it in buckets in our cool shed. I just refill a container from my kitchen whenever I run out. I keep a 25 lb bag of oatmeal under our kitchen table, up against the wall, and just refill the oatmeal bin every so often. It gets tricky, without having much space, but for only two people it is very much do-able!


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