What do you buy in bulk?
I do alot of baking and canning at home so it's:
all purpose flour
white distilled vinegar
(when needed) eggs and butter
canned tomatoes and beans (for daily use)
raisins, caraway, and buttermilk (in March, for St. Patrick's day scone and soda bread sale)
From the bulk bins: flour (AP and whole wheat), granulated sugar, rice, dried beans, couscous, barley, dried fruit, nuts, spices. From either the local co-op or whole foods, depending on what other errands I have to run that day.
I also stock up on canned tomatoes, cereal, soy milk and cat food when they are on sale. I but apples and carrots in large quantities when on sale, but that's the only produce I buy in bulk. Whenever whole chickens are especially cheap I'll buy 2-3 to cut up and freeze the breast and leg quarters, then use the other bits to make and can a huge batch of stock. I'm a big fan of the "used meat" section, and tend to fill my freezer with the odd bits and almost too old to sell things that get marked down.
re: MIss G
I'm in North Carolina, so I can't help you out with specifics for San Francisco, but I go to a co-op sometimes and to Whole Foods other time. Neither one carries all of the things I want to buy in bulk (no dried garbanzos at my Whole Foods, but no popcorn at the co-op), so I just go to whichever is most convenient at that moment, and keep a mental list of what is exclusive to each store so I can stock up when the opportunity strikes.
What's CIROC? I have an air-tight jar I put sugar in. I put the last ones in there, and even through a plastic bag, they made the sugar wonderful. I am so looking forward to using it. I'm gonna get at least one bottle of booze to put some in, but someone said they used 10 split pods, another recipe says 4!
a premiun NON-GRAIN VODKA 100% from grapes ,5 times distilled 40% ABV
In the past I have tried "potato" vodka,even the smoothest were not as smooth.
In vodka the beans/pods stay very soft,snip one end and squeeze out the seeds,return empty pod to jar.You will always find a use for the "liquid",as extract,in cocktails etc.
Paper goods (TP, napkins, paper towels, tissues)
Dish soap & dishwasher powder
Olive oil (regular and evoo)
Basmati rice (brown when we can find it)
Pasta (various styles)
Locally made hot dogs (split up and frozen)
Pork chops and chicken breasts when on sale (split up and frozen)
cat food (dry and canned)
Stuff that is on sale and can be frozen (Butter, shrimp, hamburg)
Coffee - since we get it from a mail order house and don't want to may more in shipping than for the product. We then vacuum-seal the packages.
Other non-perishable stuff on sale.
Toilet paper and Rice.
For everything else, it really depends on what you mean by bulk. I will buy 6 cans of tomatoes if they are on sale. Only if I have mismanaged the pantry will I buy one for full price. But I can go through those cans in a week if I make the right stuff. I can't go through 25 lbs of rice in a week no matter what.
I seem to have plenty of:
cumin, coriander, black pepper
frozen protein (be it shrimp, chicken, etc.)
selection of grains and beans
I do this to keep the budget down. Otherwise I'd just get what I want whenever. My budget is cut at least by a third from buying on sale or in the right store and storing things.
Mainly canned goods and paper products, either to get bulk pricing or to stock up when they're on sale. There are only two of us in the house these days so it doesn't make sense to buy large quantities of perishables.
I don't actually use that many canned products, but the list includes:
San Marzano tomatoes
Italian tuna in oil
Italian anchovies in oil
Chilpotle peppers in adobo
Toilet paper/paper towels/tissues
All of the above, plus bulk spices--SO much cheaper than those little glass jars! A couple tablespoons worth of anything is never more than about $.50, and the store supply turns over regularly, so they're always really fresh. This store also has bulk chunky Celtic sea salt, the fancy stuff that costs $15 for a small vial. I get the same amount in bulk for maybe $.99, heh heh heh...
Almost everything but produce. We live close enough to the middle of nowhere that quality ingredients are often really hard to come by. When I am within striking distance of a Costco, Wholefoods, or Trader Joe's I usually come out hoping everything will fit in my car!
Favorite stock up items include:
(I could stop here, I mean who needs anything else?)
Meats - lamb shanks, fresh seafood (hard to stock but we'll eat it for 3 days straight), etc
Italian canned tomatoes
Specialty flours, rices, pastas, oils, vinegars
During regular baking periods, I buy chocolate in bulk, usually in the form of the chips, to melt easier. I also currently have a bulk of white chocolate too.
Other items I regularly get from the Bulk Barn are:
-various dry beans
-ground hazelnuts and almonds
-chocolate cookie crumbs
-chocolate covered coffee beans
-lentils / moong dal
I love buying popping corn and popcorn seasonings from the bulk barn but i simply can not keep them in the house...way too tempting.
I tend to buy the biggest containers of sliced kalamatas I can get my hands on, when i'm somewhere I can get them, as well as the large jars of marinated artichokes.
We buy the following from bulk bins: millet, quinoa, amaranth, black beans, garbanzos, buckwheat, kidney beans, spices.
We try to always have the above as well as tinned tomatoes and tinned beans, cold gf cereal, frozen gf waffles, gf pasta, Sunshine burgers, OJ, potatoes, almond mylk, xylitol, brown rice, greens/broc, bananas, raisins and prunes (my husband, not me), a variety of frozen fruit and veggies from TJs, chocolate chips, maple syrup, etc in the house. We grind our own flour. We live in a tiny house so have to shop frequently.
5 dozen eggs at a time. San Pelligrino water by the case. Frozen chicken breasts, occasionally thighs. Sometimes bread, which gets put into the freezer.
There was a thread in Home Cooking about a year ago asking what to do with 7 dozen eggs. Around here, you just put them in the fridge, and in about a week and a half, they're gone. We have a big family, and breakfast always involves eggs.
I don't buy too much *food* in quantity, except that when the brands of dried pasta that I like best are on a good sale, I will stock up on that. Also, butter and San Marzanos I buy in quantity when they're reduced. That's about it for comestibles, though.
However, household products--laundry/dish detergents, food and trash bags, foils and wraps, paper products, etc., I always buy in high quantity when a 2-for-1 (or, lately, it seems many 3-for-1) sales come around. I'm not much for brand loyalty, as long as I know the quality is good, so not only do I enjoy the reduced prices, but buying this way means I don't have to lug the heavy stuff on every trip to the grocery store.
We also buy our dog food in bulk from an animal feed store, but no more than a three- or four-week supply, for freshness' sake.
But, human food, no, I don't buy much of that in quantity, and part of the reason is that I want to buy what I'm in the mood to cook at a given time.
re: Miss Needle
I live in a small apartment in Toronto and I've found it soo difficult to fit everything I wanted in my kitchen shelves (let alone IN BULK!!). The only thing we had really was, like you, a huge bag of rice.
However, my BF and I recently went to Ikea to browse and picked up two kitchen shelves and now we think vertical! All the lighter pantry items can fit on the top shelves, and the bottom shelves hold the heavier things like big bags of flour, potatoes, rice, water, etc. It's made such a difference to our lives (now we don't have to pick up things from the store daily to make dinner; I can make things from our well stocked pantry!) that I can't believe we didn't do this sooner!
That's great that you were able to install some shelves in your kitchen. Sadly, we've exhausted all available space (I even keep my spices on the fridge), which is why I was trying to find some stools with storage about a month ago. Oh, I keep thinking about the day I have a decent size kitchen!
re: Miss Needle
This whole list (save for kitty litter, we only have a dog and fertilizer, we don't have a yard much less a garden). Especially the frozen shrimp and olive oil. We also get coffee, rice and pasta in large quantities. Part of that is because we drink some Trader Joe's coffee and we don't have a TJs in our town so we stock up on the coffee whenever we're near one (when we visit my Dad, usually).
re: MIss G
I belong to a food coop and buy a lot of foods bulk - all my flours, sugars, dried fruit, nuts, oils, syrups, spices, grains etc. I also buy other things that are shelf stable in large quantities - mostly to take advantage of sales. In addition I also buy larger amounts of certain things so I can cook at short notice without a trip to the store, like rice, pasta, tomatoes, beans, and spices. In general at my house I have more things stored up in my pantry than I can ever run out of!
re: MIss G
Heh, and I perceived your question as meaning "buying from bins." So, I'll answer...I buy regular organic oats for .99 per pound, pretty good buy...the non-organic is .79 per pound at local independent health food store (Whole Foods wants $1.79 per pound when I checked their bins yesterday!) I eat a lot of oatmeal and I do have storage room for it. Hulled barley I also buy from the bins because it's the only way I can find it. It's just me and youngest son who has not left the nest yet (but he's getting there!)...so I don't need tons of 'stuff' and I don't belong to any price clubs as a result.