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Tips for Buying Kitchen Staples in Bulk

| 7/14/2016 11:01:00 AM

Restaurant-grade containers are good choices for storing bulk foods. Photo by Joanna Reuter

Buying certain foods in bulk is a great way to save money, packaging, and shopping time, while opening up new opportunities to support good farmers. We raise much of our own food on our homestead farm, but still need to source kitchen staples like flour, sugar, salt, dried pasta, and nuts from the outside world.

Buying these items in bulk has allowed us to virtually eliminate normal shopping trips, reduce packaging waste, and ensure that more of our food dollars to go farmers instead of middlemen. While the bulk bins at many grocery stores are a good start, in this context we’re talking about direct-ordering large quantities of single items rather than choosing a few pounds from a store bin.

Here are some tips and considerations for buying and handling bulk foods in a homestead setting.

Understanding Your Kitchen Patterns

Buying in bulk is a good way to learn more about just how and what you eat. For example, the average American consumes about 130 pounds of sugar per year — do you have any idea what your number is?

7/28/2016 5:02:36 PM

Vickie, I'm so sorry for the delay in answering your questions! - We use a wide variety of oils (olive, canola, sesame, sunflower, walnut, etc). We don't order these in bulk, because they do go rancid, and we use enough different ones to not need any given type in large quantity. - We've generated our own dairy for most of the last decade, but at times we've bought from a raw milk farm, usually several gallons of milk at a time. Milk freezes well for many purposes, though thawed milk doesn't always work as well for cheesemaking. Traditionally we froze milk throughout the summer and fall for use during winter and spring when the goats weren't producing, so in theory you could follow the same procedure with purchased milk. - We've never used any outside materials to prevent spoilage in food containers. - We have bought yeast in bulk, but as we've shifted to maintaining a sourdough starter for most of our baking, we haven't dealt with bulk yeast in a while. Best wishes for exploring bulk buying! Eric

7/18/2016 9:02:03 AM

Great Info!! What kind of oil do you use? Do you buy that in bulk? What about dairy products for those of us that do not have goats or cows? and yeast? I am very interested in buying bulk because I retire in a few months. I want to save as much money as possible. We use a huge amount of sugar because of jams, etc. and we sometimes need to feed our bees. Do you put any devices in the food grade containers after you fill them to help prevent spoilage? I m sorry for so many questions but I was very excited by your article, it really started me thinking.

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