I am a long-time fan of buying in bulk. Sometimes because they have things I can not find anywhere else (like smoked paprika) and because I always felt that I must be saving money doing so. Considering a 100 gram bag (tiny) of almonds is over $2 at my grocery store, I was convinced it was time to go to my Bulk Barn. To get there I have to use the bus which is painful and costs me extra money. That is a lot of hassle so I started wondering, do I save money by buying in bulk? It was time for a foodie experiment!
The three things I wanted to see if I could save money on buying in bulk were chocolate, herbs and nuts. As you can see in the picture, I bought a whole lot of everything for this test and my total came to: $60! Good grief! But I am a foodie on a money-saving mission and I actually needed these items.
What was most frustrating was most of the herbs I needed that day could only be bought from my grocery store in glass bottles so essentially you are really paying for the glass. Thankfully it says how many grams of the ingredient are in the bottle. I came of up with my husband refers to as “creative math” to complete my test:
So it may not be completely scientific but I figured the ration in weight equals the ratio in cost. Those bottles are heavy! Over a 100 grams each.
It became quite clear to me that herbs are the thing to focus on at the store. In fact with my creative math ratio I calculated that I made a $7.58/100 gram savings on herbs, that is very significant in comparison to my 49c savings on chocolate. Nothing to travel all the way to the Bulk Barn for by bus and lug it home all that way on my back. The one spice that I know for sure I saved money on, that was not sold in a glass container, were black peppercorns. I definitely saved 71 cents per 100 grams which reflects what I found in my creative math. The herbs I saved the most money on were: dill, cayenne and fennel seed.
Altogether I definitely saved $1.19/100 grams on my entire order of nuts which is better than the chocolate but I actually lost money on walnuts, they were cheaper at my local grocery store. The nuts I saved significant money on were pinenuts at 58 cents per 100 grams and hazelnuts at 40 cents per 100 grams. I only saved 24 cents per 100 grams for the almonds and 18 cents per 100 grams on the pecans. OK, I am saving some money but not as much as I thought I would be saving.
I am quite happy and am pleased with myself for getting out my dusty calculator and playing with math to figure out my real and unreal savings. Creative math aside, by using real math I calculated there were no huge savings when it comes to buying chocolate or nuts at the bulk barn so I can now shop at my grocery store and not obsess over the money I could be saving by buying in bulk.
Buying in bulk is fun though! I love going and seeing all the different wild and crazy stuff you can buy there and no where else. I am sure there are many things there you can save money on, just not stuff I need on a regular basis. Except herbs! You can bet when my herb and spice pantry gets low again, I will be back to buying in bulk.
Are there any other items you are curious about that you would like this financial food detective to investigate? I would love to solve another financial foodie mystery.
Chow and Chatter says
thanks for sharing, great post, I like small quantities so tend to go to grocery store anyways
I’ve always wondered if buying in bulk really saved money or not. Obviously we buy different things than you do, but it’s good to know that not everything is worth the inconvenience of going to a bulk barn or similar place to shop.
Suzie the Foodie says
I usually buy small qualities too C&C because I like everything to be fresh as possible but I did put my nuts in the freezer so they last!
Tori, I’m so curious, what does your family get? I would be happy to investigate if it’s cheaper, I’m going to the BB next week.
Chow and Chatter says
um I didn’t know to put my nuts in the freezer good tip thanks Rebecca of Chow and Chatter
what a neat little project, I enjoyed that!!
Granola Mom says
I have to ask, just out of curiosity, does the grocery stores not do “unit pricing” on the shelves in Canada?