13 Cheap Foods to buy in Bulk to Save Money

When shopping for the frugal household, it’s really important to save money where you can. Having a full pantry can help you with unnecessary trips to the grocery store and with food prices the way they are, you’ll want to find the cheapest groceries in the biggest quantities that you can. However, the question to ask is what are some cheap foods to buy in bulk that will be the best deal?

what to buy in bulk


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Does buying in bulk save money? It definitely can be a great option, but you have to be careful and watch prices as it isn’t always the best choice.

When it comes to stores such as Costco and Sam’s club there are definitely some great deals to be had, but you still have to watch your prices when grocery shopping as not everything is a better buy at those big warehouse stores.

Our family had a Costco membership until recently and the only reason we have decided not to continue our membership is because we live over an hour away from the closest Costco and we just weren’t getting there enough to make the membership worth it for us at this time. But when we did have the membership, some of my favorite things to get deals on, besides certain food products were things such as clothes and books.



I like buying in bulk when I can because I live 40 minutes away from the closest city. That means the less times I need to run into town because I’ve run out of a staple in our house, the better. Gas prices are high where I live, and it can really affect our budget if we are doing too much driving. We are fortunate because our local budget grocery store actually has a bulk food section! I have scored some great deals there.

Years ago, to store my bulk dry goods I went on the search for some food grade buckets that would make a good airtight container. I was fortunate to find some super cheap ones at a local wine store, but if you need some and you can’t find cheap local ones, you can order them online HERE. However, if you are like me, maybe you hate those regular lids on those 5 gallon buckets. I hurt my fingers trying to open them!


That’s when I discovered Gamma Seal lids and seriously, these lids are life changing. 🙂 You hammer the one part of the lid onto the bucket, and then you just screw the lid on and off! They keep moisture out and are airtight, are stackable, and of course, food grade.

A lot of people use them for camping as well. While they are not the cheapest lid you could buy, they are completely worth the investment as they will last forever, or at least a really long time. I have had mine for years and am actually planning to buy a few more of these Gamma Seal Lids as it’s such an easy way to store my dry goods.  You can see them in this photo:

what to buy in bulk


As I said above, it definitely can be for some things. But for other things, it just isn’t the best price. When deciding what to buy in bulk, you always want to check the unit price to see how much you are paying. You also want to compare and make sure both products – the bulk sized and the smaller sized, has their unit price listed in the SAME units.

You can usually find the unit price somewhere on the price tag posted. Some of the items you will notice on this list are cheaper for us when we buy the bulk size on sale. Just don’t assume because it is a bulk item that it is automatically cheaper than if you were to buy a smaller size as that is not always true.


Also, if the food will go bad before you will get through it, don’t buy it. You won’t save that way. For me, I rarely buy spices in bulk, unless it is garlic or onion powder. We just don’t go through them fast enough and they lose their potency.

And some things are better left not bought in bulk because they are plain bad for you. My husband once bought a Costco sized bag of Ju-jubes which are a weakness around here. (Okay, fine, ANY kind of food around our house is our weakness.) We ended up with tummy aches and a whole lot of regret. 🙂


Oatmeal. My kids eat a lot of oatmeal so it’s one of those pantry staples that I love to have on hand. Those small bags are gone in no time. I have always found it cheaper to go the bulk route for rolled oats.  I like to add in some frozen or fresh fruit and it’s a delicious meal that’s healthy as well.

oatmeal in bulk

Flour. We do a lot of baking here and this is one of the items we store in our food grade buckets with our Gamma Seal lids.  Having flour as a pantry staple allows me to make things like bread, biscuits, and more.  Adding bread, for example, to dinner is a great way to have cheap meals that fills everyone.

Rice. I love always having rice on hand because it is one of those foods that stays good for a long time, and it also goes with so many meals! When I am stuck on what to make for dinner, I often think, “well, I have rice. What can I make to go with rice?”  Whether it’s white rice or brown rice you like to eat, this is one of the best cheap foods you can buy in my opinion.  I love to buy a whole chicken or ground beef and mix it in with a bunch of rice and maybe some vegetables on the side.

Coffee. We wait till the biggest sized tins go on sale and then buy it at the better price. The sale price is pretty much the same price as the smaller tins!

Meat. I like to buy my meat in bulk and then when I take it home I divide it up into smaller portions and put it into freezer bags. If you have a vacuum sealer your meat will last even longer in the freezer without you having to worry about freezer burn.

Dog and Cat food. Those small bags don’t last very long and before you know it you need a special trip to the store to feed your furry friend. Buying their food in bulk can be cost effective. Also, coupons for pet food are frequently available.

dog food in bulk

Cereal. The price of those small boxes is crazy! Buying in bulk always saves us money when it comes to cereal. Buying the no name brands in bulk helps us save even more!

Popcorn.  Popcorn has a long shelf-life and is a great snack at a good price for kids and adults alike. This is one snack that won’t break the food budget.

Peanut Butter.  We go through SO much peanut butter, buying the bigger containers of peanut butter just make sense.

Dry beans.  I used to think I didn’t like beans but the truth was, I didn’t know how to make them taste good.  Over the years I’ve learned to cook with beans.  My favorite bean is the black bean, and I love to add that to rice dishes, chili, tacos, and more.  Buying large quantities of white navy beans as well means I can whip up some homemade baked beans on a cold winter’s day.

Butter.  Have you seen the price of butter these days?  OUCH!  But, they often put it on sale.  So buy it on sale and store it the extras in the freezer.

Cheese.  This is another food that is quite costly at full price.  You can buy this in bulk and store it in the freezer.  However, there is a catch to storing extra cheese in the freezer – you HAVE to grate it first or it will be crumbly and no good to use.  So, grate it, toss it into some freezer bags, and save money by buying a bunch at once.

buy cheese in bulk to save money

Spices.  Those tiny jars of spices are so ridiculously expensive.  I can buy a bigger bag of spices for less than the tiny jar and pour it into a jar to store at home.  I use old salsa jars to store my spices.

Smart Savings Beyond Food: Buying Non-Food Items in Bulk

When it comes to stretching your budget, the strategy of buying in bulk isn’t just limited to groceries. Non-food items can also be ripe for bulk buying, helping you keep more money in your pocket. Imagine being able to snag deals on things you use every day, like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and personal care products.

By purchasing these essentials in larger quantities, you’re often able to snag a lower cost per item, making your hard-earned cash go further. Not only does buying non-food items in bulk cut down on the frequency of shopping trips, but it also frees up valuable time and can reduce transportation costs.

As you venture into the world of bulk buying, remember to assess your storage capacity and actual needs to make the most of this money-saving strategy.

Vitamin C.  When cold season hits you’ll want to have vitamin C on hand.  The last thing you want to do is have to run out to the local grocery store at the last minute when everyone starts showing signs of illness.  Of course, this is one item you’ll want to check the expiration date on to make sure you will use it in time.

Batteries. Usually cheaper when you buy them in bulk, and if you are like me and have kids, chances are you will need a ton of these things. Especially if it’s Christmas and they’ve just unwrapped all their gifts. Parents, you know what I’m talking about.

Garbage bags. If you have kids, you probably wonder why they even sell those tiny packages of garbage bags. If you have a baby in diapers than you definitely know what I am talking about. For us, there is no other way to buy garbage bags!

Toilet Paper. I rarely buy toilet paper at full price and I always buy it in bulk. This is one of those items you are always going to need, and will never go bad, so why not buy it in bulk? You can save up to 50% if you buy toilet paper in bulk AND on sale. In my area it always goes on sale at various times in the year. Buying toiletries in bulk can definitely save you money.

buy toilet paper in bulk

Laundry Soap. I actually make my own laundry soap now, but before I did buying it in bulk was always cheaper.

Smart Shopping Strategies

To make the most of your bulk buying experience, keep these tips in mind:

  • Storage Solutions: Invest in airtight containers to keep your bulk foods fresh for a long time.
  • Check Expiration Dates: While many bulk items have a long shelf life, it’s still important to check for expiration dates to ensure freshness.
  • Shop Smart: Look for deals at local grocery stores, discount grocery stores, and even online platforms like Amazon Prime.
  • Buy Generic Brands: Often, store brands offer the same quality as name brands but at a lower price.
  • Shop at Bulk Food Stores: These specialty stores offer a wide variety of foods that you can buy in the quantities you need.
  • Meal Planning: Plan your meals around the items you buy in bulk to make the most of your purchases.

When deciding what to buy in bulk, figure out what the staples are in your pantry, and what you use a lot of around your house. If your grocery budget is tight you may only be able to buy one or two things in bulk at first and that is okay. Even small steps can help you save on your grocery bill.

5 thoughts on “13 Cheap Foods to buy in Bulk to Save Money”

  1. Our local Krispy Kreme donut shop always has buckets for $1. They are a greasy yucky mess when we get them but a good wash in hot soapy water and they are ready to use. We use them for food and also in the garage for things like potting soil.

    1. That is an awesome deal. I was able to get my buckets for a dollar too at a local wine store. 5 gallon buckets are SO handy!!!

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