Healthy Bulk Food Buying Guide: The details of exactly what we buy in bulk, where we buy it, how to store food, what freezes well, meal plans, freezer meals, & minimizing waste.
Several of our readers have requested to know more specifics related to purchasing large quantities of food for a lower cost per item. We hope that this Healthy Bulk Food Buying Guide gives you the details you need to take that first step toward smarter shopping for your family! Post comments below if you have additional questions 🙂
What We Personally Buy In Bulk
- Anything they have in stock that is organic!
- Guacamole, organic. Costco has this guacamole that is equivalent to 15 avocados for $12. The kids eat it like ice-cream!
- Baking supplies
- Cane Sugar, organic (which we use to make homemade kombucha & kefir soda)
- Namaste Organic Gluten Free Flour Blend can be found for a little over $2/pound. I watch for it to go on sale and usually buy 5 bags. Remember flours only keep about 6 months, so don’t buy more than you can use in a six-month time frame.
- Himalayan salt with grinder is just a couple dollars for a large amount
- Avocado oil
- Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
- Raw honey
- Honey, organic (pasteurized and perfect for baking because it’s a little less expensive)
- Maple Syrup, organic
- Nuts/Seeds/Dried Fruit
- Cashews, raw & organic
- Raisins, organic
- Dried berry blend, organic
- Dried mangos, organic
- Chia seeds, organic
- Nutiva Chia/Hemp/Flax/Coconut blend
- Pistachios (watch out for “natural flavors” in the salt & pepper kind)
- Green beans, organic
- Vegetable stir-fry, organic (carrots, squash, broccoli, & cauliflower)
- Blueberries, organic
- Cherries, organic
- Mango, organic
- Strawberries, organic
- Berry blends, organic
- Atlantic Cod
- Wild Alaska Salmon Fillets
- Kellygold Grass-fed Butter
- Breakfast sausage, organic (<1 gram of sugar per 3 links)
- 100% grass-fed beef polish sausages (the kids love these!)
- Bacon (uncured, no nitrites/nitrates, hormone & antibiotic free)
- Chicken thighs, organic
- Chicken breasts, organic
- Whole chickens, organic
- Ground beef, organic (available … we actually buy a whole cow every year )
- Peanut butter, organic
- Almond butter, organic
- Nut/seed butter, organic
- Kalamata olives
- Quinoa, organic
- Lundberg Short Grain Brown Rice, organic
- Rice noodles (Lundberg or Lotus Foods only)
- Canned Black beans, organic (occasionally)
- Late July Corn Chips, organic (occasionally)
- Salsa, organic
I am sure Costco has many other wonderful real food items. However, some of the prepared organic foods and dips I avoid because they contain ingredients we prefer not to consume on a regular basis. Share in the comments what your favorite real food purchases are from Costco or Sam’s Club!
Azure Standard (an online bulk ordering company)
Azure is a bulk online ordering company; just place your order online and either have it shipped via UPS directly to your doorstep, or enjoy free shipping & cold items by picking up your order from the drop site. Order as much or as little as you want! For example, enjoy soy-free bitter 70% chocolate chips in 5-pound bags or purchase all the way up to a 50-pound bag for a deep discount. We’ve been ordering from Azure for years (literally, my Mom has for years and years and years! But no, I’m not saying that she’s old!). Azure saves us lots of money on organic items that are otherwise super pricey at local stores.
- Oats thick rolled, organic
- Oats thick rolled gluten-free, organic
- Chicken broth, powdered (in a pinch when you don’t have any bone broth or stock on hand)
- Beef broth, powdered (in a pinch)
- Organic Spices. You can get so much spice for so little money …. like a pound of organic cinnamon for $10!
- Organic extracts
- Vanilla (huge savings here!)
- Raw Honey
- Cornstarch, organic
- 100% Grass-fed yogurt (case of 6 brings the cost down to $3/24 ounces)
- 70% bitter chocolate chips, organic (soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)
- Palm shortening, organic (zero trans-fats and from an environmentally friendly company)
- Go Raw Sprouted Seeds (pumpkin & sunflower—great on salads)
- Coconut sugar, organic (the sugar with the lowest glycemic index)
- Sucanot sugar, organic (unrefined and mineral rich)
- Coconut aminos (a great substitute for soy sauce)
- Wild Alaska Salmon, canned (no BPA, reputable company)
- 100% grass-fed hot dogs, organic (life saver for our kids, especially for traveling)
- Pumpkin canned, organic
- Almonds, organic
- Brazil nuts
- Raw Cacao, organic
- Nutiva Unrefined Coconut Oil
- Nutiva Refined Coconut Oil
- Spices (if you don’t have access to Azure Standard try Amazon—they have great bulk prices on these items too)
- All Spice
- Apple pie spice
- Bay leaves
- Cayenne, ground
- Celery seed
- Chili powder
- Cinnamon, ground
- Cloves, ground
- Cumin, ground
- Curry powder
- Dill weed
- Fennel seeds
- Garlic powder
- Ginger powder
- Italian seasoning
- Mint leaves
- Mustard, ground
- Nutmeg, ground
- Onion powder
- Pumpkin pie spice powder
- Paprika, ground
- Poppy seeds
- Red pepper, crushed & ground
- Sage, ground
- Salt, Himalayan
- Salt, Celtic
- Turmeric, ground
Holy Land Olive Oil from Palestine
Having often read about how many olive oil brands are diluted with vegetable oils, I began my quest for an affordable “real” olive oil in the Spring of 2017. I spent hours reading about different regulating bodies for olive oil here in the U.S. and researching brands that were certified authentic, cold pressed, & unfiltered. And the price tag on them wasn’t cheap.
Then one day I was with a Mom friend at the park and asked her what olive oil she uses. Much to my surprise, she shared with me that her husband has family in Palestine & they help produce Holy Land Olive Oil. This olive oil is:
- Organic (free of pesticides and herbicides)
- Fair trade (100 % of the money paid for the oil goes to the farmer and the rate is 30-40% higher than the depressed market value)
- Cold pressed
“Founded in 2003, Holy Land Olive Oil was started as a follow-up to an all-volunteer project to help Palestinian farmers whose income has been devastated by Israel’s policies of closure and its prohibition on the sale of Palestinian olive oil within its territory at the beginning of the year 2000 Intifada.
“Holy Land Olive Oil is proud to be the first to import Palestinian olive oil into the US. Our mission is to create and sustain a permanent market for Palestinian farmers – in spite of political, logistical, and market economics/ pricing hurdles. For the olive growers, your purchase of their product is an expression of support that is valued a lot more than a handout.”
The price is less than half of what I was paying for high-quality oils out of California. This year my friend and I went in together on a case of twelve 500 mL bottles, which brought the price down to $0.87/ounce.
- Coconut milk, organic (canned, no BPA, no added thickeners, ~$1.60/can)
- Coconut cream, organic (canned, no BPA, no added thickeners, ~$2.25/can)
- Coconut aminos, organic
- Baked Beans, organic (canned, no BPA, ~$1.50/can, less sugar than most brands)
- Chicken wings, organic
- Chicken drums, organic
- Whole chicken, organic
How to Store Bulk Food
- Store nightshades separate from onions & garlic and the nightshades (potatoes, yams, peppers) will keep longer.
- Consider using an insulated garage during the colder months to stock up on in-season produce (squashes, yams, onions, apples). I find that produce lasts several months when kept in the garage during cooler months (<50 degrees Farenheight).
- Produce likes the temperature to be consistent. For example, when purchasing apples in bulk wrap the boxes in a blanket before storing in the garage. This will help keep the temperature from fluctuating so much.
- Avocados: buy them green and keep them in your fridge. Pull 1-2 out at a time to ripen on the counter to prevent all of them from ripening on the same day.
- Use within 6 months of opening
- Store fresh ground flours in the refrigerator to preserve the nutrients
- Use within 6 months or
- Store in food grade bucket with gamma seal lid for up to two years
- Consume before best by/expiration date
What foods freeze well?
- Spaghetti squash
- Bake or pressure cook and freeze in quart size bags for up to 6 months
- Cut in half (no cooking required) and freeze in gallon size bags for up to 6 months
- Zucchini squash
- Shred & freeze in 1 1/2-2 cup batches. Great for making Chocolate Zucchini Bread
- Cube & freeze for soups
- Deviating from the freezer – you can also dehydrate zucchini and use it in soups
- Make puree & freeze in quart size bags
- Cube and freeze to make soups
- I have found that butternut squash does NOT roast well when it has been previously frozen
- Cube & freeze to make soups
- Peel & freeze in gallon size bags for smoothies & banana bread
- Peaches & nectarines
- Wash, slice, & freeze for crisps, yogurt, & coffee cake
- Wash, freeze on cookie sheets, pour into gallon size bags & store in freezer
- Slice (this Apple Peeler Corer Slicer contraption is amazing) & freeze in quart plastic bags. I like to prepare 6 apples at a time because it is the perfect amount for my deep dish pie plate.
- Sweet peppers
- Either slice or dice & freeze in quart size bags for fajitas, soups, & stir-fry’s
- Hot peppers
- Slice or dice & freeze for soups
- Freeze whole & pull out one at a time as needed
- Yams & sweet potatoes
- Cook & whip/mash prior to freezing
- Our families do NOT enjoy fries or cubes from previously frozen yams
Misc. Vegetables & Herbs
- Chop & freeze for soups & stir fry’s
- Shred & freeze for carrot cake or carrot muffins
- Green onions
- Chop & freeze in quart sized bags to use as needed
- Fresh herbs are so expensive! Until I have a good garden going my trick is to always freeze anything I don’t use right away
Save Time – Go to the Store 1x per Week
Every family is going to have different food and shopping needs. I can’t know what is going to work for your family, but here is what works for us:
- Local grocery store/farmer’s market 1x/week (produce – I skip this the weeks I go to Costco & Trader Joe’s)
- Costco/Sam’s Club every 4-6 weeks
- Azure Standard every 4 weeks
- Trader Joe’s every 6-8 weeks
- Amazon as needed
- Local market for raw milk & pastured eggs (swing in on our way home after church 1x per week)
- Thrive market as needed
- Misc. online vendors as needed
This enables me to get the best prices on each item while running to just one store per week (getting milk on the way home doesn’t count because we are already out and my husband runs in super fast while the kids and I hang out in the car).
Meal Prep & Freezer Meals
We all know that eating healthy, real foods is important. As parents, we also know that this is easier said than done. It can be challenging to find healthy meals to cook each day and even more frustrating when children can be really picky about their food.
With our growing family, meal planning is the only way that I’m able to get real food on our table three times a day and stay on budget. We all know we should do it—and we want to do it—but it’s not always easy to pull off in the real world. It takes commitment, diligence, and planning—and who has time for that? In our household, with two working parents and young kids, the struggle is real.
If meal planning isn’t your strength please check out The Nourished Family Meal Plans. We have partnered with Real Plans to bring you real food meal plans for less than the cost of Netflix per month. Good meal planning will save you time & money.
We love freezer meals that don’t taste like “freezer meals.” Simply make a double batch of these meals and freeze half (check out the specific recipe for freezer meal instructions & if you have any questions be sure to leave a comment so I can help you out). Here are some of our favorites:
- Chicken Mediterranean Quesadillas
- Poultry Bone Broth Soup
- Curry Meatballs
- 12 Minute Chicken Wings
- Sausage Quiche with a Yam Crust
- Quick Chicken Curry
Our Favorite Companies
- Sams Club
- Azure Standard
- Trader Joes
- Thrive Market (haven’t tried them yet but several of our friends use this company)
Answers to Reader Questions
- How do you store all the items? I have five food grade buckets with gamma seal lids for my oatmeal (uses 2 buckets), sucanot, coconut sugar, & rice.
- Is all the food in buckets? No. I generally leave the food in the container it comes in (e.g. oils, flours, seeds, nuts). It’s mostly the dry goods that are purchased in plastic bags or paper sacks that I transfer into the food safe buckets. I think the longevity of freshness of certain products (nuts, seeds) would be better if stored in airtight containers.
- How do you balance what you buy in bulk so that the food doesn’t go bad before you use it all? I started buying food in bulk with just a few items that I was certain we would use regularly. Once I got comfortable with those items, I expanded it into the list you just read about.
- Do you break larger bags down into smaller bags to make it easier to use? Sort of. I have a lot of quart and half-gallon mason jars in my kitchen that I fill with dry goods (e.g. rice, seeds, nuts, flours, sugar). I simply refill these jars from the bulk stash in the garage as needed.
- Do you make large batches of food or freeze things so that they don’t go bad? Yes, however, I typically only have to do this with produce. I haven’t ever had to use up a bunch of oats, sugar, or flour. If I am unsure about how to freeze something or about its shelf life I consult Google 😉
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We hope this Healthy Bulk Food Buying Guide was helpful for you! If you have questions please leave a comment below so that we can do our best to answer it for you.