buying in bulk

My latest freelance article for the Community Co-op discusses the joys and benefits of buying in bulk.  I’ve become a bit of a bulk addict and it really makes my skin crawl to buy something last minute in a wasteful, unnecessary packaging when I could have done bulk with a bit more pre-planning.  The article hits on the main points, but also takes a twist.  It looks at the benefits of buying “by the case” and taking advantage of the savings in the Co-op’s other sections.  Enjoy the article!

Click here for the PDF version of the article

Click here for the entire April 2012 Community Co-op newsletter

And, last but not least – read the article in its entirety below!


When most people consider “bulk food” they think of the walls in the store that are lined with clear bins and stocked with grains, beans and dried goods.  Bulk food shopping does begin here and it’s one of the qualities that makes the Co-op a unique shopping experience.  The offerings are varied and quite large, the prices are a significant savings over single units and the popularity keeps the turnover high and the freshness top notch.

The bulk section is the only stop I make for spices and dried beans.  The spices are nothing short of a humongous savings over the pre-packaged bottles with short expiration dates and high price tags.  With a little prep work, dried beans are almost as easy to handle as the canned variety and offer the same stable shelf life.  One of my new found joys in the bulk food section is the portion control for oddball ingredients.  I have a delicious recipe for cornbread, but I only need two cups of cornmeal for each batch.  I don’t make enough to warrant the purchase of an entire five-pound bag, but I like to use the bulk food bin to keep enough for two batches on hand and ensure that it is fresh each time I am ready to make some.

After hitting up the bulk foods’ section, your savings can continue with purchases of your other grocery items.  The Co-op offers a deal that’s definitely worth considering – a 15% discount on all items purchased by the case.  The savings are significant and the quantities are not ridiculously huge.  The reference to case is the unit that the Co-op purchases the food in and it can be twelve boxes, four bags or any quantity in between.

As a mother of two small children, I try to put healthy homemade food on the table for three meals and the snacks in between.  But, trying and doing are two different things.  I admit the days tend to get away from me and the hours escape like sand through my fingers, so I find an amenable solution by stocking up on quick-grab, easy to fix meals that can be thrown together in the last minute.

Some of my favorite “by the case” products are Annie’s Organic Macaroni & Cheese for the aforementioned meals, Happy Baby Organic Puffs for finger friendly food and bags of Pop Chips for camping trips, lunchboxes and quick bites on the go in the car.  I use the case discount for items that I know have a long shelf life and will get used eventually.  Most of the items are things I realized I was purchasing every other shopping trip and decided that I should inquire on just how large a case was.  In the case of Happy Baby Organic Puffs, a case is only six tubes and each tube lasts about three weeks before being gobbled by the kiddos.

Another place to look for bulk purchases is in the produce section.  Last summer, I tackled the task of making homemade salsa and spaghetti sauce.  The hit or miss supply of tomatoes from my own four plants meant I was never going to build up the quantity required for a large bubbling pot of crushed tomatoes prepped for canning.  I checked in with the Co-op’s produce manager and inquired about buying tomatoes in bulk.  I was able to acquire a 25-pound box of Roma beauties from their next local  delivery and paid a small percentage over the Co-op’s purchase price.  It ended up being a huge savings dollar wise, but also freed up my home harvest for fresh eats and turned canning into a single day adventure.  I was so impressed by the customer service, discount and quality of produce, that I utilized this same service for my annual spiced peach jam project in August.

The Co-op also offers an extensive selection of personal care products in bulk.  You can bring in your own bottles and containers to fill with shampoo, conditioner, body wash and laundry detergent.  You are buying the same products you normally would, but paying cents on the dollar because you are taking advantage of the Co-op’s purchasing power.

When considering “bulk” at the Co-op, it’s necessary to include the incredible variety in the bulk section and then look beyond to the opportunities storewide.  Whether it’s purchasing some of your staples by the convenient case or looking into large quantities of produce, your dollar can stretch even farther.

This entry was posted in supper & sustenance, waste not, want not, where the locals go!. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to buying in bulk

  1. ilibrarianblog says:

    Super smart to think beyond just the plastic bins when buying in bulk! Great column! Keep ’em coming!

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