Buying foods and other products in bulk can save you money, and sometimes has environmental benefits too.
For example, some items bought in bulk (like rice, flour, and dried beans) cut down on the amount of food packaging that’s used, and bulk products are often cheaper to transport to the places you buy them.
A 2012 study by the Portland State University Food Industry Leadership Center calculated that if all American coffee buyers bought their coffee in bulk for just one month, 20 million pounds of foil packaging would be kept out of landfills.
Of course, knowing which items to buy in bulk is a good foundation for your smart shopping strategy to prevent waste.
But you also need to know where to buy them. Most people are familiar with major warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco, but there are many other lesser-known sources for buying foods in bulk, both online and offline.
Here are 8 sources for buying in bulk, both online and off, listed alphabetically
The same place you buy books for your Kindle happens to be a convenient online source for buying things in bulk, including foods.
If you find items you like and they’re eligible for free two-day shipping under Amazon Prime, consider getting a year’s subscription to Amazon Prime.
You’ll get items quickly without added shipping costs, plus you get access to streaming movies and television programs too.
Bulk Barn, established in 1982, is Canada’s biggest bulk food retailer.
Bulk Barn offers over 4,000 products, including nuts, candy, snacks, soup, baking ingredients, candy-making ingredients, grains, cereals, spices, dried fruits, nutritional supplements, health foods, natural foods, and pet foods.
There are Bulk Barn locations in all 10 Canadian provinces.
In business since 2004, BuyTheCase.net sells caseloads of products to individuals, businesses, government agencies, community groups, daycare centers, and other consumers of large quantities of goods.
They offer low prices and the convenience of shopping online rather than fighting weekend crowds at warehouse stores.
BuyTheCase.net does not have club membership fees. Just create an account and start shopping.
Ethnic Grocery Stores
If your community has Asian, Indian, or Mexican grocery stores, check them out for buying products like rice, pinto beans, sugar, flour, cornmeal, and other staples in bulk at low prices.
Many of these stores have unexpectedly good buys on produce as well (though buying produce in bulk isn’t recommended unless you need it for a party or other large event).
Rainy Day Foods offers a large variety of nonperishable food products as well as emergency supplies for serious do-it-yourselfers.
You can also buy food storage supplies like Mylar bags, cans, and plastic buckets.
Most food items can be purchased in bulk packages that customers can repackage for long-term storage.
Foods include grains and cereals, drink and dessert mixes, beans, legumes, pasta, and baking ingredients.
Restaurant Depot, with locations in 27 states, is a wholesale cash and carry food supplier for bakeries, cafes, restaurants, bars, and other food service businesses.
The stores are open to the general public, but those with a valid reseller’s permit or tax-exempt certificate (such as a nonprofit organization) with proof of authorization to make purchases for the business can get a free membership account with members-only benefits.
Restaurant Depot sells meat, poultry, seafood, produce, dairy products, frozen foods, baking goods, plus cleaning and catering supplies and food service equipment.
Smart & Final is a California-based warehouse store chain with locations in the western US and northern Mexico.
Smart & Final stores are smaller than many traditional warehouse stores, and sell restaurant-quality products, entertaining supplies, and cleaning supplies at warehouse prices.
The stores are designed so customers get in and out quickly, and the chain does not charge a membership fee.
WinCo is an employee-owned company with 87 stores in Washington, Idaho, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Arizona.
In business since 1967, WinCo now focuses on very large stores with a wide variety of national brands at low prices.
On the Winco website, you can “clip” online coupons to save even more on produce, meat, seafood, seasonal foods, and bakery foods and supplies.
Options beyond Costco and Sam’s Club exist for buying in bulk, and though you probably can’t amass a full meal’s worth of calories like you can grazing your way through Costco, you may find that these other bulk sellers have products you haven’t been able to find, or offer you more convenience.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.