Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Did She Just Say To Buy In Bulk?

I know that title contradicts most of my writings on this blog but I’m not talking about buying cases of toilet paper or crates of apples.

Although that sounds rather dreamy.

At my local Win-co, my last stop on my weekly grocery shopping trip, I usually cruise right on by the bulk bins. You know those big no-frills drums full of loose pasta and beans that you scoop out with a small shovel? Every once in a while I’ll stop and grab raisins or a treat for the kids but lately I’ve been spending some time inspecting what they offer and comparing prices and I’ve realized I haven’t fully tapped into the savings potential that these bins have to offer.

So today I took a notebook and pencil and actually compared prices on some things that I regularly use. I found that not only were there at least a 100 bins full of everything from candy to dog food or organic whole wheat spaghetti to fish crackers but the prices were comparable in some places and shockingly cheaper in others.

Here is what I found out using the cheapest pre-package pricing I could find…

Tea Bags –package of 20 tea bags for $2.51 or 20 bulk for $1.80

Long Grain White Rice – 5 lb package for $4.71 or 5 lb bulk for $4.40

Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips – 12 oz package = $1.92, 12 oz bulk = $1.50

Baking Cocoa = 10 oz container for $2.44 or 10 oz bulk for $1.86

Quick Oats = 2 lb container for $2.44 or 2 lbs bulk for $.98

Brown Sugar = 2 lb bag for $1.27 or 2 lbs bulk for $1.02

Spaghetti = 2 lb package for $1.58 or 2 lb bulk for $1.50

Cinnamon = $2.58 for 4.12oz container or 4.12 oz bulk for $.46

White Sugar = 4 lb bag for $1.95 pr 4 lbs bulk for $1.60

Popcorn kernels = 2 lb bag for $1.64 or 2 lb bulk for $1.46

Raisins = 1 lb package for $2.64 or 1 lb bulk for $1.48

Macaroni = 3lb package for $2.79 or 3 lb bulk for the same $2.79

Taco Seasoning = 1 1.25 oz package for $.38 or 1.25 oz in bulk for $.19

Brown Basmati Rice = 2 lb package for $3.84 or 2 lb bulk for $3.60

Lentils = 1 lb package for $.99 or 1 lb bulk for $.94

Great Northern Beans = 1 lb package for $1.26 or 1 lb bulk for $.99

Whole Wheat Flour = 5lb bag for $2.66 or 5 lb bulk for $2.35

Non Fat Powdered Milk = Box of 25.6 oz for $5.26 or 25.6 oz in bulk for $5.00

Now I know that with some items there is only a dime’s difference in price but those dimes add up. If you were to buy all those items pre-packaged you would spend $42.86. But if you bought the same amount in bulk you would only spend $33.92.

That’s a difference of over $8. That’s an extra package of meat in your grocery cart or 2 more gallons of milk in your fridge. To me, that’s worth it.

So scout around in your neighborhood to see if your local grocery sells items in bulk.

Every dime counts.


April in CT said...

I really need to find a store that sells in bulk! Not only for the savings, but imagine the amount of packaging waste that is avoided. Less to go into the recycle bin and for those that don't recycle less in our landfills!

Mrs. Querido said...

Wow..what a difference a dime makes! I am really enjoying your blog :) Trying to learn everything I can...

Thriftin and Craftin said...

Love your blog! I'm thrilled because I shop at Winco. What a great tip to learn about the bulk items. My daughter and I will definitely hit those now. We've only bought dog biscuits once, but now we'll buy our stuff too!

Ann said...

We don't have a bulk section :( Though I'd rather buy the packaged when it's on sale--the bulk usually doesn't go on sale, so stocking up (on things like spaghetti) when it goes on sale seems like a better deal ($1/lb on sale vs $1.59 regular vs $1.59 bulk). The one exception is spices--I love that you can buy what you want, and it usually is much cheaper!

Kat said...

Hi! I found your blog sometime last week and love Grace4Gayle, too. Thank you for the inspiration to evaluate how I'm spending money each week!

I've not seen one grocery in my area (deep South) that sells in bulk like you are talking about. Bummer...

Duckygirl said...

Wow! There are a lot of things on that list that I wouldn't have thought to even look for in bulk! I like buying spices that way. Especially bay leaves if you can find them. You can get a bunch for like a quarter vs. the little bottles that cost like $4.00. The thriftway here has a huge bulk I need to go with a calculator and compare. Thanks for the inspiration!


Monica said...

I can't believe the difference on the oatmeal. That alone would save me a bundle!

Meredith said...

Great comparison! It's so hard to take a calculator and the time to run the numbers--when you have 2 kids in the cart.

Our only bulk food store (Whole Foods) doesn't have quite the same savings, but I do like the reduced packaging I bring into the home.

Hélène said...

I am so jealous. The only store nearby that sells in bulk is Whole Foods, which isn't a savings. My mother has a Winco so every time I visit her, I stock up on things that are really expensive otherwise really expensive, but I don't have enough space in my suitcase for everything I want to get.

Ronnica said...

I've never heard of this. The only think I've ever seen that way in a grocery store is Brach's candy. Not quite the same thing!

Emily said...

you did it! Oh, and you forgot to mention that Winco is really cheap with it's regular boxed items, so if you got the regular items somewhere like SAFEWAY...than it would be an even greater savings.

great job Gayle.

Sarah said...

hmm, our WinCo prices are different for popcorn and chocolate chips. It was cheaper to buy the bagged than the bulk.

Those are the only two that I've scouted so far.

Rachel said...

Oh, I love WinCo! A few things I've found were higher in bulk than in packaging, but not many! And the only thing I've found that we HATED out of the bulk bins was their croutons. Other than that, it's been great -- from pastas to spices! The husband loves their trail mix blends too.

Michele said...

Yep, I hang out in the bulk section at Win-Co, too. :) I don't even go to the middle aisles much at all. It makes shopping quick, easy, and cheap! :)

Oh, and I'm trying hard not to "covet" your apples. What a blessing! :)


Betsy said...

Love your blog! One of my favorite things about buying "stuff" from the bulk bins is that I can try a recipe with slightly more exotic ingredients (say, a weird spice or quinoa or whole wheat pastry flour) and buy just the amount I want instead of a full package of something I might never use again. So, it saves money that way, too. In addition, the spices/herbs are usually much fresher tasting than those in the little jars on the shelves. I live in the Southeast, so it's the occasional run to the food co-op or the large (read, expensive) stores like Earth Fare or Whole Foods if I want items from bulk bins (sigh).

gail said...

i discovered the bulk buys at winco last year. it is truly amazing what you can save. we eat alot of oatmeal and that has been a tremendous savings for us.