Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thought Provoking Thursday

What items are worth purchasing in bulk?

"Bulking up" on certain items is a family by family preference, and although I am aware that your family's size and eating habits may greatly differ from my family's habits, I thought I'd share a little bit of what I purchase in bulk, and why I purchase these particular items.

My personal meal planning strategy (ahem... or lack there of) is having lots of our favorite staples on hand so that I can choose whats for dinner based on my time and what I/we may be in the mood to eat. The 'planning' part of my meal making is the purchasing!!!

My two most frequently visited bulk shopping stores are Costco and Gordon Food Service, although I visit GFS much more often!

Let me share a little bit about each of the items above:

Craisins (dried cranberries): I love to add a bit of sweetness and color to the salads that we eat. Cranberries are about three times less expensive than dried cherries. Small, 8-ish ounce bags of cranberries, normally sell for about $3/bag. There are rarely any coupons/sales for Craisins, so purchasing this large bag costs $8 lasts our family about 3-4 months. It would cost $15 in small bags to purchase the same quantity as the large bag.

Bacon crumbles: Occasionally we like to put bacon crumbles on our salad, but most frequently we use our bacon crumbles in making our own pizza (bacon and pineapple), in our broccoli, cheddar and bacon quiche, as baked potato toppings and in soups. Formerly, I used to spend $2-3 for 3 ounces in a bottle. The bulk bag sells for $6 and contains 5 times the quantity of a little jar.

French's onion crisps: This is my 'maiden' voyage purchase for onion crisps. My family really enjoys eating chicken pot pies (and green bean casserole too), plus I love having an easy, yet beautiful single dish dinner to serve when friends come for dinner or in taking to a family that has just had a baby! Containers of onion crisps rarely seem to go on sale outside of the holidays, and even combining coupons and a sale, it is hard to get a can for less than $2. This large bag costs $8 and is the equivalent to 6-7 cans worth of crisps.

Feta cheese (big white bucket): Yum! I have a Feta addiction, and although this bucket was $23 for nine pounds, it sure beats paying $7/pound at the deli counter! I stopped purchasing Feta at the grocery store and would get my 'Feta fix' at Leo's Coney a couple of times a month... yep, not the best plan for a budget!

Salad dressing mixes (little containers): Once you start making your own salad dressing, you'll never go back to eating store bought dressings! I purchased a large packet of Good Seasonings Italian dressing mix, $5 for 16 bottles (12 servings/bottle) worth of dressing. A single seasoning packet costs $1.79. I also purchased a large packet of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mix, $3 for 5 packets worth of dressing. A single Hidden Valley Ranch packet costs $2. I have purchased store brand individual and and multi packs of seasoning mixes, but Good Seasonings and Hidden Valley are much more yummy! *I also will mix a spoonful of these salad dressing mixes into a 16 ounce container of sour cream for a vegetable dip!

Egg noodles: Sometimes I just want a little bit of variety in my pasta! I love how soft egg noodles are! I love eating them in soups and with my home made Alfredo sauce! Egg noodle coupons are scarce, I usually only see the $.75 No Yolks at, and I never feel like there is a sale to make the No Yolks worth my money. This bulk bag of egg noodles sells for $6 and is 5 pounds worth of noodles, or the equivalent of 5 bags of No Yolks.

I also purchase large (6 pound cans) of tomatoes (for making tomato sauce) and I have begin purchasing large cans of beans to rinse and freeze for quicker meals later!

"Bulking up" does have the financial requirement of purchasing and paying for the item(s) long before they are used, but the long term benefits of savings, in many instances, far outweigh the initial investments!

Do YOU buy in bulk for YOUR family? If yes, what items have YOU purchased?



My most common bulk purchase is boneless chicken breasts. There's a restaurant wholesaler nearby that also sells to the general public. I do have to buy 40 pounds at a time, but if I wait for a sale, the price is at least .60/lb less than the best grocery store price.
One time a neighbor volunteered to pick up 200 pounds of chicken and we divided it among five households. The price that time was $1.19/lb.


I also but the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes in bulk at Sams Club. I use them for pasta sauce, pizza sauce, and soups. I want to buy bread flour in bulk, you can get a 25lb bag for $7 at Sams Club. That would make at least 6 months of bread for us. I am just not sure how to store it.

I get fresh fruit and veggies in bulk during the summer for canning, but I don't normally buy them from the store in bulk.


I buy olive oil, organic lunch box drinks, milk, lunch meat (if there is no coupon), at Costco. My son loves their pizza so usually we stop by there once a week for that.


I tend to buy the garlic toast from Sam's every every other month. My kids will only eat Spaghetti if they have garlic toast to go with it. :) I'm sure I could get it cheaper buying the kroger brand, but this way I don't have to look for sales. I know I have them. And I also pick up a large Dishwashing soap while I'm there. That will last us the same ammount of time.


Ground beef, meats, chicken, etc if I can't locate a better sale price in other places.
Bacon Pieces
Dried Fruit (blueberries, mango, etc)
Nuts (for eating and baking)
Olive Oil
Lunch Meat (Costco's prices are pretty good)
Cheese (regular & fancy cheeses are better prices usually & we LOVE cheese)
Trash Bags (not sure if this is the best price)
Paper Towels (Kirkland's brand is pretty good but I'm trying to beat it with sales)
Organic products (some,not all are pretty good)
Spices (Costco's spices are very good prices) - hey, I rhyme!
I would like to purchase the big qty of dry salad dressing mix, but the sodium level is too high, so we usually make our own.

Wish I could find a restaurant wholesaler like Julie said.

Mom C

Before I started couponing, I shopped at Sams Club a lot. Now, hardly at all but there are a few things I still buy there. Bacon bits, ground beef, pork tenderloins, salmon and chicken breast & tenderloins if they're not on sale anywhere else. Also, garlic salt and minced onion. My husband and I have decided to keep our membership only one more year because after then, all my kids will have graduated.


Eileen --
Try a google search of the word "provisions" and the name of your town. You might be surprised to find that some of those wholesalers sell to the general public.


I don't buy many things in bulk because I'm always afraid we won't eat it in time and some will be wasted. I really need to bone up on how to store items so I can take advantage of bulk prices. We're members at Costco (I love that store!) and we buy trash bags, their roast chickens (CANNOT beat their chickens!), wine, vitamins, and my Olay moisturizer there (among other things). There is a GFS nearby but I've only been there once many, many years ago. I need to pay them another visit, apparently!

Laura, how do you store your Craisins so they last so long?


Laura Webber

Thanks for all of the scoop on what so many of you purchase in bulk!

Pam, I keep my Craisins in my cupboard and I've never had a problem with them going bad!


I am in love with Costco's big ol' bag of organic quinoa! Quinoa is a grain-like vegetable protein that works great as a side dish, in salads, as a bed for stir-fries and's as yummy as it is healthy, which almost never happens! I've paid upwards of five dollars a pound for quinoa, and costco has five pound bags for about nine bucks!

Laura Webber

Thanks for sharing what you bulk purchase for your families... it was an eye opener!


How timely, Laura! :)

So much is being done in bulk right now - stockpiling definitely as things go on sale, but as we use a lot of grain, I buy 100# of grain at a time (hard white wheat). I also buy dried beans in bulk, sugar, quick oats, etc. I find that if I buy the staples I bake/cook with in bulk, I don't have to buy as much at the store on a weekly basis, but I also know that the things that go in my meal-planning are already in the house. ;)

Love the thoughts the other ladies share - this is really where I live right now. ;)