Bulk Food - one way to save
Bulk food buying is a good way to save money. It's something we should all carefully consider because we all eat, and we all eat regularly. Food is the original "consumable" product, so we regularly make food purchases.
Food and food related purchases are about 12% of the typical household budget, so it's a large expenditure, right behind transportation, savings/investment and housing. That makes food a worthy target for those focused on frugal living - it's a regular expense, and it's one of the larger expenses.
So, how do we save money on food by making bulk purchases? There are several ways of doing it, so it's all up to you as to what fits best with your approach to saving money. Some of the ideas below are common, and some are not so common. You may find that saving money with bulk food purchases might be a bit of an adventure, so it can be both a fun and thrifty activity.
Grocery Store Sales
Take advantage of grocery store sales. The grocery business is competitive. In the last several years, I've seen several grocery stores in Cheyenne go out of business, and I've seen one of the "giants" cut back one store, all because of competition.
Remember, competition generally lowers prices and raises quality, so take advantage of that. Just the other day I saw sticks of butter on sale for about half of their original price, so we stocked up. These are loss leaders for the store, but they attract customers into the store that buy more items while they are there.
Buy bulk food by taking advantage of grocery store sales and buy-one-get-one offers. Stock up on food when you can.
Here are other tactics to help you save money on groceries every day.
Must Sell Foods
Grocery stores, baked goods outlets and other food stores have a range of food that they must sell or they'll have to get rid of it. Food that is near, at or just beyond the sale date can be had for much less than the normal retail price.
The key to making bulk food purchases like this is to keep your eyes open and ask about such opportunities. I buy cut-up chicken in bulk at about 75 cents a pound. I buy about 100 baked good items for about 10 cents an item.
In both of these cases, I buy for my pets and food animals, but all of what I buy is perfectly fit for human consumption.
Fresh Meat from the Butcher
If you're anywhere near an agricultural area, you can usually find meat processing plants that will get you all fixed up with a side of beef. If you live in the country, you can probably find a neighbor of yours that raises cattle and buy one of them for slaughter at a local processing plant.
When you buy a side of beef, you can save money, and you also get to select how the meat is prepared. I buy a whole hog and sometimes a whole lamb for my freezers. You can save up to 50% on the meat if you buy in bulk.
Food Buying Clubs
If you're into organic or whole foods, or just interested in a food buying cooperative, they are available in many locations. We've participated in one here in Cheyenne where a shipment of whole food, ordered by the members, was delivered by truck once each month.
Although making a bulk food buy is at the heart of the process, you can also make smaller purchases, and members of the club can share things like spices and condiments if they come in quantities too large for the normal family.
Buy Direct from the Farmer
I remember as a kid going to pick apples and tomatoes by the bushel. It was fun, and we were able to get what we wanted for canning and fresh eating at a greatly reduced price. Many fruits and vegetables can be obtained directly out of the fields of the growers at "U-pick" locations, and even at roadside stands.
One of the best parts of "U-pick" fields is you get to "can" some of the fruits and vegetables right there on the spot. There is nothing like an "in situ" taste test to verify that the product is as advertised.
My grandfather used to make wine, so his bulk food purchases included grapes. He'd call ahead to the vineyard, and they would have his grapes ready for him when he arrived.
The Key to Bulk Food Purchases
If you want to save money on bulk purchases of food, the key is:
- Be familiar with
- unit pricing of the item(s) in the grocery store.
- Know what and how much you're getting in bulk, so you can make fair
- price comparisons.
- Know the cost of storing your purchase.
So, if your plan for frugal living includes making food purchases in bulk, you need to be certain that buying in volume is worthwhile. Many of your bulk food purchases will require storage space, and might also require electricity costs if they need to be refrigerated or kept frozen. All these costs must be taken into consideration to verify that you'll save money when making bulk food purchases.
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