I’m working through a series on buying whole foods in bulk!
If you haven’t read them yet, you may be interested in :
Why I Buy in Bulk, Buying in Bulk: Do You Have the Space? and
Buying in Bulk: A Year’s Supply. And now: How To Afford Buying in Bulk:
Guess what? Last Thursday was Maple Syrup Day! We now have five gallons of maple syrup to last us the year:
The total price tag wasn’t small, and yet, we got an excellent price per ounce on high quality maple syrup for our family. This means that even though we had to pay quite a bit upfront, we just saved quite a bit of money!
I’m sure many of you are wondering how we afford to purchase our year’s supply of maple syrup all at once, or three months worth of meat at one time, etc. Hopefully you took the time to read the following posts: How I Grocery Shop and Our 2011 Grocery Budget which will answer some of your questions.
But overall, I would say that we can’t afford NOT to buy in bulk. We are a family of six big eaters, plus we feed a lot of extra people each month. Buying large quantities of many different foods saves us hundreds (maybe thousands?) of dollars each year. I can pay $1.60 for a small 21 ounce bag of organic rolled oats – or I can pay almost half that amount per ounce and buy 50 pounds of organic rolled oats for $35.55. It may feel like I’m spending less if I only pay $1.60 for a bag of oats, but since I’d have to buy so many bags of it, overall, I’d actually be spending more.
If it’s food that will keep well without spoiling and I know it’s food that we’ll eat – buying in bulk is usually the better option for our family.
And now, a little bit more about our budget and how bulk purchasing is possible for us:
We have $550 in our monthly grocery budget, which equals $6600 for the year. Some months I only spend $200, some months I spend $800. It all balances out. I don’t need a bulk quantity of every single food, every single month. Some months I buy a huge amount of wheat and a few months worth of organic brown rice. Some months I buy a case of butter and order several big bags of organic nuts. Some months I hardly buy anything at all, except for milk, eggs and produce. And by the end of the year, all the purchases have averaged out to $550/month.
If you’re just getting started with bulk purchasing, it may feel like your budget is taking a big hit. Here are some suggestions for buying in bulk while staying within your budget:
- Try to hold back part of your grocery budget from one month in order to apply it to bulk purchasing the following month. For instance, if your grocery budget is $300/month, eat a few less expensive meals this month. Anything under $300 that you spend can be applied toward bulk purchasing next month.
- If there are other areas of your overall family budget that you can cut back on or skip for a while so that you can save up, be intentional about saving that money for bulk purchases. Can you eat out less? Skip the movie? Pass by the coffee shop? Avoid paying the electric bill? Just kidding. Please pay your electric bill. ;)
- Begin with very basic staple foods that you know your family will eat. I recommend starting with foods such as oats, rice, wheat or flour, sucanat, honey – any foods that you know won’t go to waste if bought in a large quantity and kept in storage for 3-12 months.
- Don’t buy everything at once. Maybe pick just one or two items each month to get started. If you buy rice in bulk this month, you’ll be able to check that off your grocery list for the next few months, freeing up a little bit of your budget for other bulk purchases.
- Buy in bulk according to your family’s needs. I tend to buy 50 pound bags of food because we go through a lot of groceries at our house. Ten pound or 25 pound bags may be better for your family.
- If you find a good deal and buy a bulk quantity of an item, ration it if necessary. It won’t save much money when you find a great deal and stock up on chocolate chips, if your family begins to eat way more chocolate chips than normal. Not that this is easy when there are bulk amounts of chocolate chips in the house. Why did I have to use chocolate as an example? I should have brought up baking powder or salt or something less tempting. Yes, don’t overindulge in baking powder. There, that’s better. :)
Next time, I’ll talk more about what food items work well for bulk purchasing, what keeps well in the pantry and what freezes well.
How do you budget for bulk purchases?