13 Food Items to Always Buy in Bulk

By Laurel Randolph on 25 March 2015 0 comments

It can be hard to decide what's worth buying in bulk. Are you getting a better deal? Will you use all of an item before it goes bad? (See also: Bulk Buying Basics: What to Buy and Money Saving Tips)

Be sure to follow some general rules when you go shopping: Only buy things you always use and use often. Don't buy something you don't know if you like; try a single serving first (for example, a soup brand you like, but a new flavor you haven't tried). And, of course, always consult this list. (See also: 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Buy in Bulk)

1. Alcohol

If you're having a party, you can save some real cash by buying booze in bulk. The bigger the package of beer, the better the deal, and the same goes for spirits. Warehouse stores can offer some real savings, and in some states you don't have to be a member to buy alcohol. Even if you're buying wine from a wine shop, most offer discounts of 5%-15% for a case of 12.

2. Beans

Whether you buy your beans canned or dried, they last a long time and don't run a high risk of going bad before you use them all up. Dried beans offer the biggest savings, and can be cheaper when bought in larger quantities or from a bulk bin. When shopping at Costco or Sam's Club, packages of multiple cans of beans offer a per-can discount of around 15%.

3. Pasta

If you're a pasta lover, stop buying your dried pasta just one little package at a time. You can save up to 40% off the supermarket price by buying in bulk, including whole wheat varieties. The shelf life of dried pasta is up to two years in air-tight packaging, and many families eat it often, making it a bulk-buy must.

4. Oats

If you enjoy making oatmeal or baked goods using oats or oat flour, then you may want to consider buying wholesale. If you have the space and will use 50 pounds of oats, you can save nearly 70%. Even if you're buying out of the bulk bin or in bigger bags, there are still savings to be had. Make sure you store your oats in an airtight container.

5. Spices

The price difference for bulk spices and packaged spices at the grocery store can be huge. However, if you buy five pounds of cinnamon and then don't use it, then it's money wasted. Only buy spices in amounts that you know you'll use. This can be a great time to visit the bulk section of the market and measure out how much you want. One spice that's especially great to buy in bigger amounts is peppercorns. The whole variety keeps for longer, and since pepper goes in nearly everything, you'll keep your pepper mill stocked for cheaper.

6. Meat

If your family loves meat and you cook it often, then go ahead and buy ahead. The key to buying meat in bulk is to portion it out, wrap and package it well, and freeze it. If done properly, meat can last up to one year in a freezer. Be sure to compare prices, since sales at supermarkets can sometimes beat out warehouse store prices.

7. Dried Fruit

A great healthy snack, dried fruit can unfortunately be expensive. It's frequently cheaper at warehouse stores, assuming you will use all of those dried cranberries in a reasonable amount of time. If you shop at a grocery store with bulk bins, dried fruit can be a great buy. Make sure that you buy from bins that are busy and therefore get refilled often.

8. Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are an item used by home cooks and chefs alike, and they're more than handy to have around. They also last, so they're a great bulk buy. Buying a six-pack at a warehouse store can add up to 25% savings, and won't even take up that much room in your pantry.

9. Coffee

If you're a frequent coffee drinker and you don't buy your coffee in bulk, then it's time to make the switch. It makes economic sense as well as ecological sense. Buying in bulk saves on packaging, and you'll get your fix all the same. It's best to buy whole beans, which stay fresh for longer and offer more flavor when freshly ground.

10. Rice and Grains

Grains are another great dry good to stock up on and save money. Buying bigger bags tend to offer real savings, as does buying from the bulk bin. Grains last as long as they are stored properly, but keep in mind that rice and whole grain shelf lives differ. For example, brown rice spoils faster because of higher oil content. Keep grains in a sealed container, away from sunlight and heat.

11. Sugar

For the bakers out there, going for the big bag of sugar should be a no-brainer. At Costco, you can save 25% on sugar by purchasing ten pounds rather than a two-pound bag. When stored in a cool and dry place, white sugar practically lasts forever. No need to beg for a cup from the neighbors!

12. Oils

Cooking oils such as olive oil are consistently cheaper when purchased in larger quantities, and if you cook with them often, go big. When specifically buying olive oil, make sure the glass container is a dark green to keep out sunlight, or buy in a metal container and transfer smaller amounts to your own bottle. Note that oil will go rancid, so don't buy more than you can use.

13. Maple Syrup

Good maple syrup can be a costly food item, really putting a damper on your pancake breakfast plans. Luckily, the price gets a little more reasonable the bigger the container. You can order it online or visit a big box store — just compare price per ounce to get the best deal. Stored properly, it'll last for several months and drown dozens of pancakes.

What are your regular bulk buys. Please share in comments — you have plenty!

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Please don't split your infinitives, especially in a title.