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For Better Living, Buying Food in Bulk

By: Sandra R. Cain

Sandra CainBuying food in bulk can be an easy way to save money but there are other things to consider. First, think about whether or not the item is something that you can really use.  Also, be sure to look at the actual cost per item. One of the biggest issues that families encounter when buying food in bulk is the spoilage and food waste potential that results from not knowing how to handle and make the most out of bulk items.

Some things to think about before buying in bulk include:

-Will you be able to use the bulk items before they go bad?  Buying food and letting it spoil is a waste of money.

-Sometimes you can find items for less per ounce in small packages. Always compare the price per ounce with other similar items or other sized items to get the best buy.

-Consider the cost of joining a wholesale club. Will the cost of the membership still make the savings worth it?


Where to buy food in bulk?

Wholesale clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s are not the only places to buy food in bulk. Others include:

-Local farmer’s markets- These can be a great way to buy local and fresh foods in bulk and at good prices.

-Amazon – This is another place to purchase bulk foods and you don’t even have to leave home. Many items offer free shipping if you spend at least $25. Visit


Storing foods in bulk

Do you have enough storage space and/or freezer space for your food? It is a good idea to use clear air-tight bulk storage containers so you can see what is in them. For larger dry food items,  you can use food grade 5 gallon buckets with lids that seal. Label them with the date.


Bulk buyers know that many products can be purchased more cheaply in larger quantity and frozen for later consumption. When freezing bulk foods, divide foods into meal-size portions and wrap with freezer paper or place in freezer bags. Freezers should be set at or below 0 degrees. Examples of foods that freeze well include:


-Large cuts of meat, 6 – 12 months

-Fresh vegetables, 6 – 8 months

-Most fresh seafood, 2-3 months

-Baked pastry and breads, 2-3 months

-Cooked meats and meat dishes, 2-3 months

-Hot dogs, lunch meats, ground meats, 1-2 months


You can purchase food any way that you will eat it and use it. If you are serious about saving money, you may need to make a few lifestyle changes, such as:

-Start cooking from scratch as often as you can. Sometimes this will increase your costs in the beginning, such as purchasing herbs and spices, but overall, cooking from scratch reduces food costs.


-Begin purchasing bulk whole grains, beans, dried apples, potato flakes, etc. Consider this: A 5 lb. bag of pinto beans will cost you about $6 and will yield 37 cups of cooked beans. The same amount of canned beans would cost about $14.


Source:  Take Control Series, North Carolina Cooperative Extension


Mixed Berry French Toast Bake


1 loaf (1 pound) French bread, cubed

6 eggs whites

3 eggs

1 ¾ cups fat free milk

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

1 package (12 ounces) frozen unsweetened mixed berries

2 tablespoons cold butter

1/3 cup packed brown sugar


Place bread cubes in a 9” x 13” baking dish, coated with nonstick spray. In a bowl, combine the egg whites, eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.


Thirty minutes before baking, remove the berries from the freezer and set aside. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


In a small bowl, cut butter into brown sugar until crumbly. Sprinkle berries and brown sugar over French toast. Bake, uncovered, for 15 – 20 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

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