My daughter and her friend were baking cupcakes at our house, and when he asked where the flour was, my daughter pulled out a big bucket and said, “Well, my mom doesn’t do anything half way….” He was a little shocked my baking supplies were bulk, and my daughter was probably embarrassed, but when you make everything from scratch it makes no sense to pay more for smaller quantities.
Here are my top reasons why storing in bulk is smart.
Prepared foods cost more money, because of the packaging and labor. Buying in bulk gives you the lowest price point for your culinary creations. If you need a brownie mix, “cream of” soup, yellow cake mix, pancakes, gravy, or taco seasoning, a well-stocked pantry will have all that’s needed.
If you aren’t a fan of preservatives, making your own baked goods, dressings, sauces and mixes is the perfect way to avoid them. Homemade is lower in sodium too – fresh ingredients require less salt because the flavor isn’t dumbed down by over processing.
Homemade brown sugar is so fresh and flavorful, it makes the store bought variety seem dull. Rubs for smoked pork, roasted chicken, meat marinades, salad dressings, homemade Ranch and onion dips all have flavors that pop when made at home. After being fed homemade bread for years, my family likens the store bought to cardboard. You just can’t beat homemade.
Helps Pantry Rotation
Buying in bulk does require rotation, but by making your own mixes that’s not hard to do. I like to make several mixes at once, such as cake mixes, cheese sauce dry mix, brownie mix and gravy mixes. While I have all the ingredients out and dirtying up measuring cups, spoons and bowls, I might as well make several pantry helpers.
Make convenience foods to suit your own tastes, or unique blends not found in the store. I made jalapeno lime salt with homemade jalapeno powder, lime powder, garlic and salt. Taco, Ranch, Italian seasoning mixes, unmami seasoning, Old Bay, pickling spice, and seasoned salts are some blends I concoct from my pantry. (I do have a tip, don’t use a salt with a lot of moisture like Redmond’s Real Salt in mixes because the moisture will cause clumping.) If you have dehydrated or freeze dried goods, you can grind them into a powder or mince and add to flavor homemade mixes. For instance, when I make homemade cream of mushroom or celery soup, I add mushroom or celery powder to the dry mix.
During Shortages and Price Hikes, Just Make Your Own
Reading some of my older blog entries and seeing what the prices were then and now is startling. So many items have doubled in price, quality has sometimes suffered and of course shrinkflation. During Covid while there was food on the shelves, the choices were sparse. If you keep plenty of base ingredients you can get relief from the economic rollercoaster. This is also a reason to stock up on food and supplies in general.
Here’s a list of bulk basics:
Bottled lemon and lime juices
Vodka (for homemade extracts and tinctures)
Cheese powder (homemade with your freeze dryer, or pre-packaged)
Milk powder (you can make evaporated milk with this)
Peanut Butter (you can also buy peanut butter powder to rehydrate)
Masa (for corn tortillas)
Vanilla, and vanilla beans
Vinegar, I like to keep a variety
Grain, if you have a grain grinder
Cornmeal (I grind mine from popcorn)
A wide variety of herbs and spices including garlic and ginger
Fats such as lard, olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, butter
* Egg powder – we used this in baking when eggs were $4 a dozen. You can buy some from Augason Farms, dehydrate or freeze dry your own eggs when prices are good.
* If you combine white sugar and molasses, you get brown sugar so no need to stock that in my house.
*Learn to use sourdough and if your yeast expires, you will always have a way to rise bread.
*You can make your own pasta with flour, so no need to stock up on that.
This is a list for base recipes to make dry mixes, dressings, baked goods and sauces. Your overall pantry list should be much more extensive to include meats, vegetables, beans, rice, sprouting seeds, grain (if you have a grinder), fruits, tea, coffee, bottled water and juices.
Next time you run out of a basic pantry item, buy in bulk or at least one extra and start building your pantry. You will be surprised how quickly you go through bulk food items once you start making everything from cake mix to onion soup mix from scratch. If you stock up during specials and get bulk prices, it’s also it’s like having your own little grocery store where everything is on sale.
If you want to join the conversation about food preservation and cooking, please join us on the Preserved Home Community Facebook page, where we share recipes, techniques and ideas on stocking up!