We all have a constant urge to improve our pantry and find ways to cut down costs. As preppers, we sometimes have to decide where most of our budget is going. It’s not an easy lifestyle and you have to be wise when it comes to prepping. Buying in bulk is a method that saved me a lot of money and helped me to reduce the stress of dealing with all the prepping tasks.
When I talk with people about money-saving strategies, I always recommend buying in bulk. Purchasing meat, produce and dry goods in bulk is a highly effective way to cut expenses. It will help you stockpile the foods you need without breaking the bank.
Besides making your food shopping easier and less frequent, buying in bulk has one great advantage. The groceries you are purchasing are often of higher quality than packaged supermarket items. If you don’t know how to handle buying in bulk, this option may be intimidating at first.
However, I have some tips to walk you through the key steps of buying in bulk on your own. You can do so from your local farmers and if you want to save even more money, you can join a food-buying club.
A buying club is a group of individuals and even families who merge their grocery list to purchase food in large quantities at low prices. They make one or two large sales a month and most of these clubs use a single whole-seller. The goal to buy everything from toothpaste to grains from a single seller is to save as much as 50 percent. Besides helping you save money, it also helps you socialize and build a community of like-minded individuals.
If you want to join such a club, you should know that buying in bulk requires quite a bit of planning. First of all, you will need a lot of jars, bins and all sorts of containers to store your portion of food. And second, you will need a large freezer to prevent large purchases of meat and butter from spoiling.
Another thing to be aware of is that some clubs ask their members to chip in and help with various tasks. Some may share their freezers, and others will scale and package the goods and even grind fresh flours.
The members you will end up knowing have a similar mentality. Their cooking habits are adapted and meal planning is crucial in order to avoid wasting food. They will tell you that you should avoid purchasing unfamiliar food because you may end up not eating it. Always try a small quantity from the grocery store before buying in bulk. You should keep track of what your family likes to eat and which foods remained untouched in your pantry for years.
Joining a club
There are a lot of food-buying clubs all across North America. The staff at your local grocery stores could probably point you in the right direction if you are searching for one. They are aware of clubs in the area and can help you find one nearby. However, if you don’t have the luck to find one, you can always make one yourself. Here’s what you need to do.
From what I can tell you, for a club to work properly you will need at least 20 members. This is because many wholesale food distributors have a minimum order of $500 or more. The more members you have in your club, the greater savings. Think of it like this, a large order leads to volume discounts and reduced shipping costs.
When it comes to recruiting members, you can start with your relatives, friends and neighbors. If you are active in social media groups from your area, that’s another excellent place to recruit members. Using flyers at work, at your local market and in other places where people usually gather will also help you pull in more people.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should let all the members know about the rules of your club when they apply to join. Let them know how often you plan on ordering if there are limitations to the types of good being purchased. Establish if people can split cases and bags and who will be the coordinator.
Selecting a vendor
When picking a vendor, you need to choose companies that don’t limit their sale to commercial accounts. Make sure the vendors are selling to buying clubs and get some tips from existing clubs. They will be able to give you vendor recommendations that have a long history in dealing with buying clubs. Even more, I suggest buying from local producers to improve the food system in your area and support small businesses.
If your club will buy meat in large quantities, this is a great way to build a strong relationship with your local farmers. In fact, meat is the priciest item in a household’s food budget, and you need trustworthy contacts. When you buy beef and pork in bulk, you will notice substantial savings, especially in premium cuts.
Related article: Making An Emergency Food Supply On A Tight Budget
Implementing an ordering strategy
The web is nowadays the most convenient way of compiling orders. You can place an order with a credit card and schedule a location and drop date from the comfort of your home. There is even software developed by national distributors to update in real time as members add items to shopping cart created specifically for your buying club. You will be able to see when the minimums are met and do a last call before ordering.
Your club will require one or two persons (depending on how big the club is) to handle the communication strategy. They will be sending reminders, placing an order and scheduling distribution. As a common-sense measure, you can choose to reward these members with a higher markdown.
They will also have to organize monthly meetings to decide on splits since distributors won’t ship partial cases. You can save a lot of money on a 25-pound bag of organic beans, but are you sure your family will eat such a large quantity. If you can’t store it for later use, you can divide the bag with at least one other household.
Establishing a drop-off location
Your buying club needs to have a secure drop-off location. You can have the goods delivered at your garage or even at a member’s workplace. A person will need to be present to accept the items and cross-check the delivery against the order list. There can always be mistakes and out-of-stock items.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the drop-off location needs to have refrigeration. Without such a commodity, you will limit ordering options.
The drop-off location needs to be acknowledged by all member since they will be the ones picking up the goods. Some people implement a distribution route for members living nearby, but it will be impossible for you to deliver all the goods. Everyone should be responsible for picking up and storing their foods.
Suggested reading: Which Foods Have the Longest Shelf Life? Pantry Stockpiling Tips You Need
Distributing the goods
As I said before, your club will get low prices for bulk food. However, there will be many cases in which the food needs to be split base on everyone’s needs. You will need volunteers to open the bags, weigh, package and label the contents based on what each member ordered.
In this case, you can have some permanent volunteers or pick some by rotation. I think that everyone should take a fair turn, but this depends from club to club. Either way, it will be fair for them to receive deeper discounts since this operation takes time and effort to be done properly.
This process can be difficult to implement and organize, but there’s also another alternative. For example, preppers that are part of a buying club have no problem getting larger bags and storing them long-term at home. For other people choosing smaller bags at a reduced discount may be a viable option to avoid splitting.
Paying the bills
Every buying club needs a treasure, the person that handles splits, sales taxes, discounts and ensures that everyone pays their share. Some clubs rotate this tasks among members but is not a job for everyone. For some, calculating splits and establishing sale taxes division amongst members can be a challenge.
I recommend looking and registering for a free buying club software that can handle these tasks. By doing so, you can rotate this role and everyone can participate. It offers transparency and sense of trust.
A final word regarding buying in bulk
The idea of buying in bulk is intriguing for some until they get the hang of it. Once they realize how much money they can save on food, they will spread the word faster than a wildfire. I recommend joining one if you don’t have a disposable income and if you are concerned about the quality of food.
A food buying club will help you save money, but it will also provide you the chance to build relationships with local farmers and sustain the economy in your area.