The Best Foods to Buy in Bulk

Looking to get more and spend less? Here's where you should be spending your food dollar.

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Become a Better Bulk Shopper

You probably already know from firsthand shopping experience that food is one of our biggest costs of living. As we’re all trying to save money wherever possible, purchasing in bulk has become the popular answer to shaving down food costs. But buying in bulk can sometimes lead to spoilage of unused food, and who needs a dozen heads of lettuce going bad in the fridge? Certain spices, canned goods and other nonperishables, however, are great to stock up on when buying in bulk. Here are 10 of our favorite items to look for when embarking on a bulk-shopping mission.

Cinnamon

This winter-warming spice can be used in oatmeal, baked goods, batters, and even savory dishes like butternut squash soup and lamb stew. Most ground spices have a two-year shelf life, but cinnamon is a frequently used spice that will be gone before then.

Canned Beans

Yes, dry beans are even cheaper when purchased in bulk, but given that most folks in the U.S. are under a time crunch, choosing canned can still provide the nutrition you need with a quicker cook time. If low- or no-added sodium varieties are available, then opt for those. Otherwise, rinsing the beans can cut the sodium by up to 40 percent. 

Olive Oil

Oil is pricey, and if you use olive oil frequently it may be worth it to invest in a huge bottle. Be sure, however, to store oil in a cool, dry place — not over or next to the stove, where the heat can cause the oil to go rancid.

Quinoa

You can now find quinoa sold in bulk, which is way cheaper than buying smaller packages if you’re a quinoa fanatic! One cup of cooked quinoa contains 220 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein, which is almost 50 percent more than an equal amount of brown rice. Use quinoa wherever you use rice, for hot cereal, or a cold salad mixed with mango and sliced red onion.

Frozen Berries

When fresh berries aren't in season, frozen berries can come in handy. Traditional supermarkets charge a ton for these frozen goodies, and that’s when purchasing in bulk can save you a nice amount of dough. Thaw berries (like blueberries and raspberries) and add to muffin, scone, cookie and pancake batters, or use them in parfaits and smoothies.

Shredded Mozzarella

Cheese is another large ticket item, and if you use plenty of it, buying it in bulk isn’t a bad idea. Shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese can be used in just about any dish in the kitchen, including eggs, salads, baked potatoes and quesadillas. Best of all, you can freeze it! When you return home from shopping, divide the shredded cheese into small resealable plastic bags and freeze. Take out one bag at a time as needed and defrost in the fridge. 

Rolled Oats

This whole grain can be used to make your traditional warming oatmeal, overnight oats, cookies, bars and even savory dishes. It has a long shelf life of about one to two years, but it needs to be stored in a cool, dry place. 

Canned Crushed Tomatoes

If you find yourself stocking up on canned tomato products like crushed and diced tomatoes, it’s probably time to buy them in bulk. Canned crushed tomatoes can be used in a variety of delicious dishes like chili, lasagna, meat sauce, tomato sauce and even tomato chutney. Processed tomatoes also contain higher amounts of the antioxidant lycopene than their fresh counterpart.

Lean Ground Beef

There’s no doubt that meat is one of the most-expensive ticket items on your food bill. Luckily, warehouse stores do sell lean ground beef in bulk. When you get home, divide the ground meat into portion-controlled packages (about 1 1/4 pounds per family of four) and freeze for later.

Peanut Butter

According to the National Peanut Board, peanut butter is consumed in 94 percent of households in the U.S., with the average child eating 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before graduating high school. With so much peanut butter love going around, save cash by purchasing this beloved nut spread in bulk. Shelf life of closed peanut butter is up to nine months in the pantry, while an open jar can last up to six months in the fridge.