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Who Needs Sam's Club? Bulk Order without Membership.

My New Year's resolution this year was to cut my grocery costs by ordering in bulk. It's been an easy resolution to keep and has paid off big.

For example, in January, grocery receipt shows big savings by buying in bulk without a membership cardI ordered a case each of crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and fusilli pasta for an immediate 10% savings on these nonperishable staples. Then in March when canned tomatoes went on sale, I ordered six more cases. This let me lock in the sale and save an additional 10%.

For example, the Muir Glen organic fire-roasted tomatoes used in today's recipe might seem like a splurge at $2.99 for a 28-ounce can. But by the case, they are just $2.59 a can. And by the case during a sale, they are just $2.33 a can. That's a savings of 66 cents a can, plus an additional 5 cents on sales tax. That's 71 cents a can without ever clipping a coupon or paying a membership-club fee!

It's easy to order in bulk

Just take an example of the item up to the customer service desk. Ask if there is a case discount available and find out how many are in a case. For example, 28-ounce cans of tomatoes come 12 to a case but the fusilli comes 24 to a case. That's a lot of pasta: I'm finally down to the last bag nine months later.

Special ordering has advantages even without a discount

I asked my local Whole Foods to special order my beloved King Arthur organic white whole wheat flour, which the store had quit carrying. I didn't want a whole case. Even with the holidays coming up, six bags or 30 pounds of flour is a lot! But they did order it and let me take just two bags, putting the rest on the shelves. I got the flour for $7.95 plus local sales tax but without the minimum shipping cost of $6.00 for one bag or $8.00 for two. Bonus: the sales tax supports my local schools, roads, and more.

On the other hand, I also bought a case of Earth Balance Coconut Spread on sale, but have been haunted by an endless stream of dollar-off coupons. I also have started using more plain coconut oil, so it's not the staple I thought it would be.

Sure you have room to save 10% or more on your groceries!

Tuck cases of canned goods under the beds, in a spare closet, or in the basement. Go all Andy Warhol and make a coffee table out of them.

Best bulk buys:

  • Non-perishables that you frequently (canned goods, dried pasta)
  • Things on sale so you get two discounts
  • Things that never go on sale to make your own sale

Skip the bulk:

  • Perishables (check the use-by date)
  • Things that require refrigeration (one power outage could melt your savings)
  • Things you don't love or use much of (a case of hot sauce would last me a looong time)
  • Things you shouldn't eat a lot of (chocolate chips)
  • Things that have a temporarily high price (like peanut butter in 2012, after the floods of 2011)
  • Brand name items that frequently have coupons

Buying in bulk is another way to make healthy eating wildly affordable!

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