While we produce much our own food year-round, we certainly can’t produce all of it. Rice, flour, sugar, butter, spices, noodles, and other basic staples aren’t in our realm, and need to be purchased. We’ve moved further and further into purchasing these items in bulk, along with many toiletries, which saves money, time, and packaging. It also helps us remain independent from shopping trips, as we always have lots of an item on hand.
Our favorite bulk ordering location is Hy-Vee. Through the Health Market department, we can order almost anything else we need in large quantities, getting a 10% discount from retail. This saves us meaningful money, and Sara there is very professional and helpful. We had tried several other outlets, but were not pleased with the quality of the customer service or the products. We gave up each after a few rounds. Hy-Vee is far preferable to us (at least the Broadway location; we haven’t used the newer stores).
Our standard purchases include laundry & dish detergent, coconut milk, soy sauce, raisins, nuts, rice, flour, and so on. It’s worth looking into for anyone trying to save money or be more efficient in their shopping. Rather than a weekly trip, once every few months we make an order and show up a week later to pick up our shopping cart full of boxes. Everything is already tallied on a printed order sheet with a single bar code; one swipe of the cashier’s unit and we’re rung up and paid. The time saved alone makes it worthwhile, much less the money and bother. The look on the cashier’s face is usually priceless as well; clearly planning ahead is a concept foreign to modern culture.
It does blow a hole in the monthly budget, and that needs to be planned for. We view it as a kind of import-CSA; every so often we pay a lot, then save up the next few months for the next round. Overall, you’re not paying any more than you would otherwise (less, with the discount), and you have the items always on hand, rather than having to think about weekly shopping lists.