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Buying Groceries in Bulk

Buying Suggestions:

Shoppers have enjoyed the convenience of buying in bulk for a number of years. My own bulk buying experiences have been hit and miss at best, but I recently discovered just how convenient buying in bulk can be.

There are a number of advantages to buying in bulk: - some items are available only in bulk
- you can choose the quantity
- bulk prices are usually less than packaged prices
- less packaging
- less additives and preservatives when you make your own meals and mixes
- more variety
- often healthy alternatives not always otherwise available

When you buy in bulk it's a good idea to get your cupboards in order. There are a number of ways you can store bulk items:
 - recycled plastic containers and glass jars
- Rubbermaid or Ziploc containers (4 4-cup Ziploc containers cost less than $2)
- reseal able bags
- for some items (e.g. oatmeal) you can re-use the original container

A key to bulk storage is labeling. Make sure all containers are air-tight and clearly labeled and dated. Bulk items have a long shelf life because they have been prepared with long-term storage in mind.

I've always wondered if bulk items are as fresh as packaged. In my experience bulk items have been very fresh--even raisins! You'd be amazed at all the things you can buy in bulk. Here's a partial list to get you thinking of the possibilities:
Baking:
- flours
- cornmeal - spices - chocolate, carob, peanut butter, butterscotch chips
- raisins
- sugars
Grains:
- granolas
- oats (regular, quick-cooking)
- rice (all kinds)
- cereals (all kinds)
Dried Fruits:
- pineapple
- apricots
- raisins
- papaya
- bananas
- apples
- cranberries
- prunes
- dates
Beans:
- split peas
- navy beans
- pinto beans
- kidney beans
- soy beans
- soup blends
Pasta:
- spaghetti
- lasagna
- elbow macaroni
- egg noodles (all shapes and sizes)
Nuts:
- peanuts
- sunflower seeds
- almonds (whole, slivered)
- walnuts
Vegetables:
- sun-dried tomatoes
- peppers

Originally published at Suite 101. Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking.

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