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By the author of the FREE online course Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture
With my shopping dollar facing a SQUEEZE in almost every direction, I continue to look for ways to save. The other day, as I was hand-grinding my organic spelt kernels to make bread, I had a *light bulb* moment! I could share my best tips in bulk buying with you in this article. So, that is what I did.
With pounds and pounds of root vegetables and potatoes still preserved in my improvised root cellars from last year’s harvest, I am a thrifty homesteader. I don’t need to buy much each week at the grocery store. When I do buy, I like to buy BIG. I got out my calculator (OK…um…well, it’s now actually an app on my laptop!) and did some calculations to share my savings with you.
Organic Spelt Kernels
As I don’t have the land on my Half-Acre Homestead to grow enough grain for my needs, one of the first things I did when I moved to the area was located an organic grain farm nearby. I have known them now for years. They grow organic spelt and also sell organic vegetables and produce their own organic beef. I liked my main contact there immediately, as we were clearly on the same wavelength when it came to eating and health. It is a pleasure to go there to buy each time I do.
However, here’s the thing: I don’t need to go there too often because I buy 44 pounds of organic spelt kernels at a time! I started doing this when I lived in my off-grid tiny house, where I had even less space, and I still do it now. I certainly make my way through them before they ever go bad. I immediately move them from the heavy-duty paper bags she sells them in to my stainless steel buckets with locking lids. When I need the floor space of the utility room to store root veggies on the concrete floor where it’s cool, the buckets get moved up to the attic. (Yes, I know it’s not ideal, but it’s only for part of the year!)
Around half a pound of kernels will almost fill the hopper of my hand grinder, and I can generally make two or three cups of flour with that, so that gives me, say, two weeks of bread. (I use a 50 – 50 mix of my hand-ground organic spelt kernels and all-purpose flour to make my traditional Irish soda bread.)
So, I need half a pound of kernels every 2.5 weeks for bread. I now make my own crackers, too, so I will need another half a pound of kernels every 2.5 weeks for crackers. I don’t use them generally for anything else.
So, doing the math – for a year, I need a pound every 2.5 weeks or 21 pounds in total. So, my 44-pound bag should last me around two years. Back (so many years ago!) when I last bought my kernels, they cost only $30. I just called my farmer friend today, and the price has gone up to $42. Still, that’s a LOT of mileage for very little money. My cost per pound is around $1.
Want to compare with Amazon? Sure! I found a 2.2 pound bag of organic spelt kernels for around $6. Yup! Six TIMES the cost. Think you can save on Amazon by buying in bulk. Think again! I found a 22 pound bag for around $73. That’s right…more than seven TIMES my cost…not a great deal. I guess they add a bit in so that they can offer you free shipping, right? At the same time, if you don’t have access locally, the bulk prices on Amazon are still better than small bags at the grocery store.
To make my Irish soda bread and crackers, it’s much better to mix my heavier hand-ground spelt flour with some all-purpose flour. In fact, I just bought my “annual” bag of flour today. It weighs 22 pounds and cost me less than nine dollars. My price per pound is around 41 cents. Yes, it was on sale, and yes, I waited several weeks to find this price.
Are there bigger bags of flour out there? Yup. But, unlike spelt kernels, flour does go bad. I find that I can use this amount easily between eight months to a year. What do I save compared to buying those smaller bags? Quite a bit! Even our local sale price for a 5-pound bag is $4.37, meaning you are paying a whopping 87 cents per pound. That is more than double. Yikes!
Wiper Washer Fluid
I only ever buy this when it is on sale and in a CASE of four. Yes, I often have a few hanging around in the spring, so I just stick them in my shed. This reduces the price of a large gallon jug by more than half.
When my good friend brought my Christmas gift by this year, I had to laugh! He had bought a case of four and gave me one as a gift. I was delighted to add to my collection! What a thoughtful and frugal gift!
Nuts, Seeds, Etc.
Twice a year, I make my annual trip to our local bulk buy store. Everything I like to eat for snacks and lunches (chia seeds, hemp hearts, organic raisins, sunflower seeds, whole flax seeds) is purchased in massive quantities intended to last at least six months.
What do I save?
By buying everything in 2-pound sizes or larger, I can save HUGE compared to the half-pound bags in the local grocery store (half the total cost.) As well, many of the items are organic, whereas the regular grocery store ones aren’t. Big savings and better quality, and I only shop twice a year!
Heavy Duty Detergent
Virtually everything I wash in my eco-cabin gets washed in organic soap. However, I do occasionally work on my vehicle or clean really nasty stuff. I like to have some heavy-duty liquid soap on hand at all times. On our hardware website, this is described as “heavy-duty bio-degradable car cleaner and disinfectant.” It’s strong stuff!
I waited months for a good sale. My big jug was getting low….finally the sale came! At first, I thought it was a typo. I think this was the best price I will EVER get on a big jug of this stuff: I got almost a gallon of it for less than $12.50. When I saw the sale price in the flyer, I ran into the store and grabbed the last one on the shelf. Whew! Good for another few years! A quick check today on a nearby hardware store website found a half-gallon jug of the same stuff for $13.40. That’s a jug HALF the size!!!
Thing BIG to Save BIG!
Over the years, I’ve figured out which items to buy in bulk so that I can save my hard-earned cash.
Could you see yourself making any of the high-volume purchases offered here? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments section.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient. Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!