I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for ways to save time and money- especially on food shopping and prep!
I started buying food in bulk when my kids were babies, and it has proven to be one of the most effective ways to streamline my time and save money on whole foods.
Today, I want to share a few hacks I've learned over the years.
If you want to eat healthier, cut food costs, or simply save some time in the kitchen, let me show you how to shop smart in bulk.
(Check out my video further down in this post!)
1. Get a plan
Shopping in bulk sounds like a great way to save time and money, but it's only going to work for you if you PLAN what to do with all that food!
Before you head off to your favorite super market, do a little brainstorming.
What kinds of meals does your family enjoy eating on a regular basis?
Write down anywhere from 10 to 15 simply meal ideas, and make a list of the main ingredients you'll need for those meals.
2. Start Comparing Prices
Buying food in bulk doesn't automatically save you money.
In order to shop smart, you're going to want to watch for the lowest unit price on the items you're shopping for.
When I was just starting out as a whole foods mom, I bought a cheap pocket-size notebook and carried it in my purse. For several weeks, I compared unit prices on foods we bought a lot, at several different grocery stores.
After a while, I had a good handle on where I could find the lowest price on just about anything.
I could also recognize and snag a good deal! That's a really good time to buy in bulk!
(Like the time I bought 24 pounds of bananas for $5! Banana bread, anyone?)
3. Think About Food Storage
This isn't my favorite part of the game, but getting my pantry ready for food storage is a big part of smart bulk shopping.
Several years ago, Jeremy and I bought a second freezer to store our "extra" food, like meats, organic frozen veggies, grains, and other whole foods.
Air tight storage containers like these from Better Homes and Gardens also make food storage much more simple.
I store large amounts of grains in 5-gallon glass jars, similar to this.
A final suggestion for smart food storage: always write a description and date on the bags of foods you freeze!
4. Give Yourself Some Time
I don't make a "bulk run" to the super market when I'm pressed for time.
Typically, I plan a day when my husband can watch our kids while I shop, and when I'll have a few hours to prep and store food after I get home.
This is an important part of the money-saving aspect of buying foods in bulk; if you don't take the time to store your foods properly, they'll go bad before you can eat them. That will cost you money in the long run!
5. Work Your Bulk Shopping Into Your Budget
If you're already smart shopping and have a monthly budget for your groceries, don't forget to factor in your "bulk run!"
If you forget to do this, your bulk shopping will definitely break the budget.
A great way to work your budget with your bulk shopping is to plan it after your pay day.
If you or your husband get paid once-a-month or once-a-week, plan your bulk treks accordingly.
Keep Dave Ramsey's rule of thumb in mind: allot anywhere from 10% to 14% of your income to your food budget.
6. Buy in Season
You'll save a lot more money on fresh produce if you buy according to what's in season!
During the summer months, we eat a lot of melons, strawberries, and blueberries. (Blueberries and strawberries freeze really well, so I stock up!)
One year during the fall when apples were in season, I ordered about 50 pounds of apples from Azure Standard and made applesauce.
7. Make Freezer Meals
A really great way to use up your extra food is to prep several freezer meals to enjoy later in the month.
I don't regularly do this, but I did take the time to make freezer meals before my babies were born.
Let me tell you, it was a life saver!
Check out Once-a-Month Cooking if you're curious about how to shop, prep, and cook freezer meals.
I hope this post has given you a few helpful ideas and insights on buying foods in bulk!
Here are some other resources for you to check out: