Friday, February 19, 2010

Buying More to Spend Less

I just got back from a few days on vacation, and am about to start a couple of weeks of substitute teaching, so my blog has and probably will continue to suffer from my current non-Stay-at-Home-Mom status. It's not that I don't have ideas for things to write about, but I am having a hard time finding the time to write new posts, beyond a paragraph or so. One idea that I have had for a while I am going to actually crank out tonight! Blogging on a Friday night -- my life is so exciting.

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money and to be green. Greater quantities usually are cheaper by unit (although check the price tags to be sure), and use less packaging. Some items that we have bought in bulk recently include:
  • Hand soap for the kitchen, where I really like to have a hand-pump style soap dispenser. We bought a large bag of it to re-fill the dispenser that had run out. We got five times the amount of soap for only twice the cost of a regular container of soap. 
  • Trail mix fixings. These were really fun for me because they were much cheaper in the bulk section of my grocery store than these items normally cost, and definitely cheaper than a pre-mixed bag. Also, I was able to add the raisins and banana chips that I made (dehydrated) myself this fall. I blended almonds, sunflower seeds, and chocolate chips with my dried fruit, and stored it in small jam jars, which are a great size for a travel snack.
  • Yogurt. Sweet Pea has started to enjoy yogurt, and I love it too, for breakfast, lunch, or dessert. I typically buy Nancy's, which is a local natural brand, and available in sizes ranging from a single serving up to 32 or 64 ounce containers. I usually buy the Honey or Plain flavors, and then add my own fruit, either fresh, canned, or jammed. Not only am I saving money by buying a larger quantity, I am creating less waste from packaging, and I typically re-use the containers a few times before recycling them. We have used them for everything from storing leftovers, to bath toys for Sweet Pea, to transporting dog food. The makers of Nancy's even left a blank spot on the container for the user to write what's inside in these future uses.

In addition to re-using my yogurt containers, I have found it incredibly useful to keep most of the glass jars that I buy with pickles, peanut butter, or jam in them, and once they are empty, re-use them for storing smaller amounts of the bulk items I buy. Of course I also save all of the empty jars I used for canning last year. This helps with transport (like for a snack to keep in the diaper bag) and with portion control. I've been keeping them in the cupboard above my dryer, and look forward to filling even more this summer with more home-made jams and dried fruit from my garden.

What else do you like to buy in bulk? How do you store it? Share your tips!

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