That is the question. I’m lucky that there is a bulk food store right by my house – I love it there. But I have found that there are some items that just aren’t a good deal and since it is Frugal Food Friday I thought I would share them with you! So here are my top 5 items worth buying at the bulk food store and top 5 you are better off skipping!
1. Flour – Depending on the quantity and type. I find that sometimes I need something like self rising flour and only a couple cups of it, the rest destined to sit on my shelf for months on end. This is when it’s a good idea to save some money and only get what you need. Want to try making rye bread? Or 12 grain? The bulk food store has many specialty flours including gluten free. It’s a good idea to pick them up here if you want to try something new, so you aren’t buying 10lbs of it the first time.
2. Spices – There is hardly ever a reason to need a value sized pack of a spice. It’s not fresh and by the time you use that much dried Thyme it will have lost most of its flavour. Buying in smaller quantities also keeps you engaged in your pantry so you know what you have on hand and what you are running low on. No nasty surprises when it comes time to do some baking!
3. Candy – I like buying little bits of candy or chocolate here because I have no self control. Once its in my house its in my mouth. So this way I can buy just a little bit. 3 or 4 little pieces that let me feel like I’ve had a treat but don’t result in me eating 3 candy bars. The trick here is to only purchase the little bit of candy you are going to eat. NO MORE. For me at least… there is no ‘saving for later’.
4. Oatmeal – Cheaper at the Bulk Barn than at the grocery store…
5. Sugar – Again I find it cheaper, unless there is a sale on sugar at the grocery store… which there happens to be around Thanksgiving and Christmas when everyone is baking.
Skip at the Bulk Store
1. Rice – It may not look expensive at only a few cents per hundred grams, but it adds up and is usually a nasty surprise. You are better off buying a bag of it at the grocery store. Unless it is some super specialized rice that you only need one cup of and are never going to use again. In that case buy only what you need.
2. Nuts – Again, pricey. They are expensive in grocery stores too, but this way you know exactly how much you are paying per container. When it is up to me to fill a bag I always get way more than I need in the first place and pay way too much. Best to take the mystery out and buy a container of nuts at a set price.
3. Dried Fruit – Do you know how much a pound of dried fruit is? Not as much as you think. Again I get overzealous when filling the bags and have had to return some items that I’ve gotten ready because of the shock of how much it came to when I was finished. I’m looking at you expensive dried blueberries. So you either need to be very careful about how much you are buying, or just get a set amount of dried fruit for a price you know up front from the grocery store.
4. Cake / Muffin Mixes – Anything you are getting here you can make with flour and a few other ingredients. The less variety of things you need to buy and the more you make from the staples you are already purchasing the lower your grocery bill.
5. Cereal – most times it is stale. Don’t bother, any cost savings are negated by the fact that you wont want to eat it in the first place.