My parents greatly blessed us this past week by purchasing a 25 pound bag of rice from local health food store on our behalf.
Isn't that the best gift ever?
I am in love with this rice for two reasons:
1. It came from my parents, which makes me think of home, which makes me very happy
and 2. It is less than a quarter of the price per pound that it is in small bags at the local grocery store.
For 25 pounds of this organic, short-grain, gluten-free, non-GMO rice we paid $38. What incredible savings from having to buy the 1 lb. bags at the store!
Sometimes, I just really enjoy buying in bulk. Though not always, sometimes it really doesn't make a lot of sense.
When we made the trek down south almost two months ago, I brought our three-gallon buckets of grains and rapadura with us. We've been very blessed to have them. As I tell Stu often, if I've got meat, grains, and cheese I can make anything in the world.
Because we've been working so fervently on getting our debt and budget in order through the Dave Ramsey program, I've been thinking a lot about these bulk food purchases and how they can be a real struggle to save up for throughout the year. And because we only get paid on a monthly basis, we really can't blow a big chunk of our grocery budget to restock one of our bulk foods when we run out (or at the end of the month we'd be pretty hungry).
That being said, we still have a few options when it comes to stocking up.
1. It's possible to spend, say, $10 less every week on groceries. That would leave us about $40 at the end of the month to save in an envelope for when it's time to order wheat, or oats, or rapadura, or olive oil, etc. While this seems like it'd be an easy way to save for such purchases, I've found it hard to keep to our already restricted food budget – it always seems like ‘something' comes up that pushes us right up to the line. Like buying dog food or something. And without our gardens and free sources of fruit this year, we are completely reliant on purchasing all our produce from local market. Let's just say, it's tight.
2. Another option would be to find a way to make a little bit of extra month. Any extra brought in could be used to save for these purchases. I am favoring this option, mostly because it would allow us to have a bit of breathing room in the food budget. I would love to have $100 or $200 extra per month that could be exclusively used to stock our pantry and freezer, especially for months where the budget is tighter than normal (ahem, giant electricty bill, ahem). We're currently working on ways that this could be a viable option for us.
3. Lastly, we've been ‘blessed' enough to get a pretty significant tax return the past few years, since Stu has been a full time student. While we've already decided to primarily use this for debt payoff (it's not easy to be obedient to Dave's financial plan), I do feel it's important to reserve a certain amount of this money for large food purchases, such as our annual quarter-steer that we purchase. We had to sell off our last quarter before we made the giant move and I have been missing it like crazy. Not only is it a far more economical way to buy quality beef, but it's also so much easier to always have meat accessible. I very much look forward to when we can make another purchase. Using a larger sum of money, whenever you happen to come across one, can be a great way for the annual stock up of products.
I'm currently working on putting together a spreadsheet of what foods (and how much of them) we use every year. This will help me to price them from local suppliers and calculate exactly how much money we need to reserve each year. While I am not including produce, eggs & milk (which we get from local suppliers) or various grocery store items, I will include all the products we purchase in bulk, such as:
– Soft white wheat
– Hard white wheat
– Rapadura (whole cane sugar)
– Olive oil
– Vinegar (rice, balsamic, and apple cider)
– Baking soda
– Coconut oil
– Whole fryer chickens
– Raw cheese
– Sea salt
Am I forgetting stuff? Most definitely. But it's a start. And it's my goal this week to finish the spreadsheet.
As soon as I do, I'll share it with you. If I can be tech-savvy enough to figure out how to do that.
And speaking of bulk foods and giant electricity bills, we shut off the small window unit that was in the sun room where we keep the buckets of grains. It is now approximately 100 degrees in there at all times. I was worried that critters would get into the buckets (hey, I'm not paranoid, have you seen Alabama bugs?!) so I decided (for the meantime) to store the buckets in our large chest freezer. I can't imagine anything more sad than finding fifty pounds of wheat have been compromised by bugs. I also decided to store the new bag of rice in the freezer (in smaller ziplocs), just in case the humidity or bugs could cause damage.
Okay, fine, I may be paranoid.
And on a side-note, I think it's important to point out that security (be it financial, emotional, or food-storage-oriented) can be found nowhere else but in our Heavenly Father. While it may be encouraging to have a freezer full of beef or a large savings account, truthfully all is of the Lord and all of these ‘securities' are temporal. I'm slowly learning this lesson, as I've had to let go of so many these past few months. It's a painful process.
Do any of you readers have a wonderful way that YOU save up for your bulk food purchases? How do you make it work with your budget?
this has been very difficult for me and like you i use our tax return to purchase meat but grains have been more difficult. now that you no longer live on the west coast I assume you do not order from azure standard and curious who you use now?
Shaye @ The Elliott Homestead
Oh how I wish that Azure delivered to the deep South! I’ve get to find another co-op that can replace them. A few will deliver wheat and such, but none have the selection and price of Azure. The local health food store is willing to order the bulk items for me and offer a 10% discount, so that’s where I am going to for grains for the time being. While I can find them for cheaper online, shipping is a killer!
Next time you guys come home for a visit, I”ll take you to Bread Beckers, that’s where I get all my wheat. they have several co-ops in Alabama, one is in Mobile. They also have “critter proof” containers. They are 5 gallon buckets with Gamma lids. I think I have a couple of extras you can have. That way you can free up your freezer for other stuff.
Oh I feel for you girl!! I am a new SAHM and am trying to get used to a new, smaller budget for a growing family of 4, 5 with a baby on the way! 🙂 I have been blessed, as our town JUST got Azure Standard a few months ago, but even with their good prices, it is still tough buying in bulk some months. Like this month–I pretty much was “lucky” enough to run out of most of the items I buy in bulk all at once…so this month was a stock-up month, which leaves us very little for the rest of the month after the Azure bill & our milk shares. But God WILL provide, my family may have to eat some out of the ordinary things for meals, but we will be ok!! Food is a very important part of our lives, so if we have any extra left in any of the other categories in our monthly budget at the end of the month-I take that & put it towards a “bonus” category–might be food, might be clothing. It helps!!
I don’t know if you shop on Amazon, but sometimes I find really good deals on things we would buy normally-we have a Prime membership which allows for most items to ship for free. I recently bought 2-54 oz. tubs of organic Nutiva virgin coconut oil for $37 with Subscribe & Save–they don’t always have the same prices, but it is worth keeping an eye on!! I have bought Succanat, maple syrup & other items as well for good prices….
Do you know if your area has any local buying clubs? We have one in the area for meat and that has been helpful in pricing as well.
Hang in there, this is just a season for you & your family—hopefully things will pick up for you soon!!
Let people around you know that you’ll be happy to take any extra garden produce off of their hands. For us, this is the time of the year that everybody is up to their eyeballs in zucchini!
I am sure this may ruffle a few feathers with some readers, but does your husband hunt or fish? This could relieve a little of the meat costs and add to the bulk purchases. Especially if he can clean and butcher it himself. I support hunting when done by respecting nature, abiding by the conservation rules, and utilizing as much of the animal as possible. Our freezer is stocked with venison, ducks, and geese every year. We do pay an excellent, local sausage shop to make a variety of sausages from a portion of the meat each year…this is a large bulk purchase as they add a percentage of pork fat to the lean wild game. (I hope to eventually learn to do this myself to save even more!) All this greatly reduces our need to purchase meat. Some years, all I purchase is a bit of chicken and some fish to supplement variety around the wild game.
I also grow and dry more and more of my own herbs as I find herbs and spices to be greatly overpriced.
I too thought of the Amazon Prime membership as an option if you order from Amazon. It certainly pays for itself in a few orders if you are a frequent buyer. The subscriptions to certain items helps save money too.
Do you own a FoodSaver or Seal-a-meal type machine? If not, I would recommend keeping an eye out for a used one. They are a huge help in extending the life of food in the freezer etc..although the bags are an investment. When we budget so carefully, spoilage and bug attacks are a true disappointment.
Perhaps a few people around you would be interested in a bread baking class in exchange for garden produce? Use your God given talents and all will work out.
Shaye @ The Elliott Homestead
My husband does hunt and fish, though we’re still adjusting how to do this in Alabama. He went fishing last week and came back with 15 fillets of king mackarel from the Gulf of Mexico! What a treat! Deer season is also very long here and he’s hoping to bring home some venison this year as well. He’s not much of a bird hunter, but we’ll see. My father-in-law did get a wild boar a few years ago and it made delicious sausage – I’d love to have some more of that in the freezer!
I’ll have to check out the Amazon Prime membership. How much is it per year? It may be worth it to be able to shop from home…as long as we don’t have to pay for too much shipping – that’ll kill ya!
If your freezer gets too full, I’ve been experimenting with oxygen absorbers for my grains, beans, and dehydrated foods. They only absorb oxygen, not moisture, and bugs cannot live without oxygen. ;0) They vacuum seal my canning jars, and I think they work in the 5 gallon buckets just fine. I’m new to using them, so I’m not expert, but they seem to be working great in my dry storage. They have to be stored in a jar, too…I left mine on the counter just for a few minutes while preparing the jar and they got VERY warm. (they’re like mini handwarmers, they have iron in them which oxidizes and that absorbes the oxygen) Once the jar is sealed, they no longer get warm. Anyways….just another way to do it.
Hi there, I’m not sure exactly where you live or if you’ve found a co-op yet for your bulk purchases, but my parents have ordered from Country Life Natural Foods (CLNF) for years and love what they offer. Their selection is less than Azure, but still great. Their contact/delivery information is here: http://www.clnf.org/static.asp?htmltemplate=truckdeliveryinfo.html. Good luck!
Thanks for the tip! I’ll check ’em out!
I recently found your blog, and I’m interested in your bulk foods spreadsheet. Is it completed and on the website anywhere? If not, I’ll look forward to your update when you have it!
Hi Christina! I haven’t completed the spreadsheet yet but am planning on including it in the cookbook which will be released hopefully in late spring! Thanks for reading! 🙂
If you plan for simple living includes making food buys in bulk, then you need to be certain that buying in volume is beneficial. Many of your bulk meals buys will need storage space, and might also need require electricity costs if they need to be refrigerated or kept freezing.
May I suggest looking into the effects freezing has on food?