Our food bill has been noticeably higher lately and has got me thinking more and more about the merits of bulk buying. I think it is the way to go.
Last year I bought a 50lb case of cabbage for around $15 (non-organic) to make sauerkraut. More recently I found out that green cabbage is going for $17.50 a 50lb case. Still pretty cheap for a whole lot of cabbage. I reckon 50 lbs of cabbage will make about 40 – 500 ml jars of sauerkraut at a cost of .43 cents each jar. On top of this, sauerkraut is extremely healthy, loaded with lots of vitamins and beneficial digestive bacteria. Assuming organic is twice the price, it may be possible to make pesticide free sauerkraut for about a $1 a jar.
Knowing that bulk buying is cheaper than retail, the Britannia Bulk Buying Project was started and is now serving 26 lower income households. The cost is $13 a month ($.50 for gas to pick up), which gets each household two shopping bags near full of fruits and veggies (non-organic). Recently we conducted a cost comparison with the cheapest grocers on Commercial Drive – Santa Barbara and Triple A. The cheaper of the two was Triple A, however the identical products were 32% higher than our wholesale purchased produce. Our $12.50 worth of food would have cost $16.75.
I was wondering too if buying organic bulk could even be affordable for lower income households. I think it can be, but not for everything. If you really want to save money on organic bulk, you will need to do a little research for sure. Some bulk can be considerable less than retail, but not all.
Here are two highly nutritious organic foods that I have found in bulk that I think are pretty affordable when broken down per serving. The first food is Quinoa, a protein rich seed cooked like rice. It is possible to buy this food for $4.49/lb from a bulk distributor as compared to $5.49 at a local organic retailer. This is about 24% cheaper. An 11lb bag is $49.40, which sounds like a lot to lay out but the bonus is in the cost per serving, which I have estimated to be about .70 cents per serving.
Another highly nutritious protein seed is Chia, which can be found for almost 40% less than retail. Chia is the richest non-marine whole food source of Omega-3 and dietary fiber currently known. A single serving contains 27+ vitamins and minerals, fatty acids and amino acids. I sprinkle one or two tablespoons of Chia seed into oatmeal, smoothies, or granola at a cost of .17 cents a tablespoon. It may sound like a lot, but the nutritional benefits make this an affordable option.
Keep in mind that not all bulk food distributers are cheaper than retail stores. Prices can be competitive. In the short term it can feel expensive, but I am beginning to see that when averaged our food bill over many months is decreasing. The added bonus is that we are much more conscious of what we are buying getting the most nutritional bang for our buck.
For bulk seeds, check out Mumm’s Seeds on-line for some very good prices. Shipping is free.