Groceries can become very expensive, especially if you have an entire family to feed. Rather than sacrificing the quality of your family's diet for the sake of saving a few bucks, consider an alternative strategy - buying in bulk. As long as you have the storage space available and you shop smart, buying in bulk can save you a lot of money and it will leave you with a fully-stocked pantry.

Which Items Are the Best to Buy in Bulk?

It doesn't make sense to buy certain foods in bulk - things that will go bad if you don't use them within a few days. This is particularly true for fresh produce and meats, though meat can be frozen if you want to store it a little longer. The best foods to buy in bulk are dry staples - here are some of the top foods you should be buying in bulk:
  • Beans and Legumes - Both dried beans and legumes are great to buy in bulk. They are fairly inexpensive already, but buying in bulk can save you even more.
  • Grains - Things like white rice, brown rice, quinoa, and other grains can be stored very long-term without losing any of their flavor.
  • Pasta - Stock up on all of your favorite types of pasta and store them in airtight containers (or buy them in boxes) for long-term storage.
  • Canned Goods - Though you'll need to keep an eye on the "best by" date for these, canned goods are great for stocking a pantry.
  • Baking Staples - When kept away from light, heat, and moisture, baking staples like flour and sugar can last a long time. Whole wheat flour, however, can go rancid and baking powder and baking soda start to lose some of their leavening power after 6 months.
  • Cooking Oil - Oil can be expensive, so stock up when you get the chance but choose smaller bottles if you can because, once opened, it can go rancid quickly.
  • Herbs and Spices - Dried herbs like oregano and rosemary can last for up to 3 years, but powdered spices have a shorter shelf life. Just keep them away from light, heat, and moisture.
  • Condiments - Unopened bottles of condiments like ketchup and mustard often go on sale and they can stay fresh for up to 6 months after opening.
Any food that has a shelf life of six months or longer is a good candidate for buying in bulk, but only if it is something your family uses. Don't waste money on food that is just going to sit in your pantry year after year!

Storage Tips for Keeping Your Food Fresh and Organized

Unless you have storage space to spare, buying in bulk may not be a good option for you. If you do have extra space, however, here are some tips for using your storage efficiently:
  • Choose your containers wisely. The whole point of buying in bulk is to have a steady supply of the foods you need but you need to keep them fresh. Choose airtight containers like jars with twist-on lids or Tupperware with tight-fitting lids.
  • Divide things up. Just because you are buying some of your items in bulk doesn't mean you have to store them that way - dividing them up into smaller containers will help keep things fresh and you can just take the small container when you run out.
  • Outfit your storage space properly. The ideal food storage pantry would have plenty of open shelving where you can store your goods and be able to see them and access them easily. Make sure to arrange things with the items expiring first in the front.
  • Label everything. In order to keep your pantry organized, you need to label everything. Include the name of the item as well as the purchase date and the best by date.
If you are tired of spending hundreds of dollars at the grocery store each week, think about whether buying staples in bulk might save you some money.

Follow the tips above to purchase bulk items when they go on sale and then store them appropriately so you always have them when you need them.

Frugal Village