Bulk shopping can do wonders for your budget. Having a well stocked pantry is key to quick and easy dinners. Find out what to stock up on and my tips!
Although the word “bulk” usually brings shopping in large quantities to mind, like buying out Costco. But you can also use bulk bins to buy convenient portions of items you use. Think: spices, grains, dried fruits. In our house, bulk shopping means buying enough items to stock the pantry for one month, two TOPS.
The key is to have a price point and know when the bulk quantities are worth your while. I compare EVERYTHING to Aldi prices. If organic, non-GMO foods are important, know your stock-up price point for those. For us, we buy whatever is cheapest.
How do you start setting up a price point? I would keep track of the lowest price you can find something for a month and start there. For instance, I know that canned tomatoes are around $0.49/can at Aldi. We use at least 3 cans a week, so I buy 12 when I’m stocking up. A few weeks ago, another grocery store had Red Gold tomatoes for $0.39 each when I bought over 10. I stocked up!
Keep a dry erase board or note clipped to your fridge or freezer with running tabs on your pantry items. Running low on tomatoes? Make a note of it! For us, 3 cans or less, it goes on the list! Your family might not have space to stock up for a whole month or two, so you might want to focus on a 2 week span. Completely up to you!
Items to buy in bulk:
- Oatmeal- both steel cut and old-fashioned
- Quinoa, Barley
- Dried Beans
- Rice- brown, wild, white
- Dried Fruits
- Flour- think: coconut, other varieties you might use
- Spices- including sea salt!
- Chocolate Chips
- Nuts- store in freezer!
Not all stores have bulk areas anymore, but many do! Fresh Thyme is my favorite locally for spices and pantry items listed above. If you don’t have one around you, spices are cheaply found at Aldi!
How to Store:
- Mason Jars with reusable lids
- Dollar Tree Favorites: baskets, containers and bins are great from here…plus budget friendly!
- TIP: label EVERYTHING with item, dates
- Large freezer. This was the best (and most useful) gift we’ve gotten. We have ours in the basement pantry and it helps us stock up on items like bread and meat during sales. I make a lot of freezer meals too!
In the video below, I share my favorite storage options. Most are from the Dollar Tree!
Think outside of the box (stores):
- Natural Food Stores: sesame seeds, grains, etc
- Spice Markets
- Zaycon: 3 month supply of chicken, beef, pork, etc
- Local Farms/CoOps: meat, in-season produce
- Bread Outlets: Aunt Millie’s, Wonder/Hostess
- Search for one in your area, inquire about special deals. Ours has discounts on Wednesday and Sunday!
We truly love our Costco membership. I don’t shop there every week, but we have our staples that we frequently buy. Seasonal items are priced low, too! Even when it was just the two of us (sing along with me…ha!), we had a membership to save.
- Think outside of food:
- Kleenex, toilet paper, diapers, dish soap
- Home: small appliances, rugs, towels, garden items
- Clothing: Carters PJs, winter coats, men’s button up, slippers, socks
- Health/Beauty: Vitamins, Toothpaste, eye exams,
- Gas (priced around $0.10/gallon cheaper)
- Do the math—don’t buy something just because it’s “convenient”. I calculate the larger bulk items to see how they compare to my price point.
- Look at dates and ask: can I use this before it’s expired? How will I store this?
- Wait for coupon deals/markdowns. We wait to buy vitamins when there’s a $ off coupon. Diapers/wipes frequently have coupons too!
- Seasonal items DO get marked down. Remember, those items are first come first serve, though. Many times we’ve waited on something, only to find it out of stock a day later.
- Hidden secret: you can shop with a gift card WITHOUT a membership!
My Costco Favorites:
- Frozen veggies, yogurt, fruit and snacks (when on sale)
- Eggs (compare to Aldi per dozen prices), milk, butter
- Mediterranean Oil (olive oil blend), Canola oil
- Baking favorites: Ultragrain flour, chocolate chips, vanilla (which is priced SUPER high right now all around…there’s a shortage), cinnamon
- Oatmeal packets—with coupon only
- Rotisserie chicken: buy 2 and freeeze or make meals on a Sunday Prep day
- Water bottles
- Dog Food
- Carters clothing specials for kids, especially PJs
- Winter gear: coats, boots, gloves/mittens
- Light bulbs
- Wine/Beer, plus liquor for parties and events
- Seasonal produce deals: sweet potatoes, apples
- Spice Mixes: chili, taco, grill seasoning, cinnamon
- Book box sets and toys around the holidays
- Canned diced tomatoes and tomato paste
- Better than Bouillon, Chicken Flavor
- Quinoa, Chia Seeds, flax
- Coconut Oil!! Best deal around!
- Granola bars, fruit snacks—only with coupon deal
- Mini naan bread
- Socks, undies for kids
My Facebook live with more budget tips:
Stay tuned for more Budget 101 tips! Do you have any about bulk shopping?
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