5 ways to avoid food waste when you buy in bulk
Buying food in bulk can save you money and reduce packaging waste. Often bulk food works out cheaper by weight, although it is a bigger investment up front. It also comes in less packaging because instead of buying 20 bags of rice for example you just need one big one. However there is a risk that food can go to waste. So follow the steps below to find out how to reduce food waste when you buy in bulk.
1. Check dates on foods to avoid food waste when you buy in bulk
Check the dates on food before you buy it and choose foods with the longest shelf life. This is particularly important for food with use by dates, as these foods shouldn’t be eaten past these dates. Food which has best before dates can be eaten past those dates. It might not taste as good though, so you still want to get the longest shelf life possible on those foods.
2. Store bulk bought food in the optimal way
Read the storage instructions on the food you buy / look them up online. Make sure you store your food in the optimal way to make it last the period you need it to. It is ok to bulk buy certain types of fresh food if you can freeze it or store it right. We bulk buy practically a years supply of onions in one go. They last a long time in a bucket in a cool room. Every so often some will sprout, but I pick those out and use them up first or replant them.
You need to be careful to keep large packets sealed when not in use to keep pests like weevils out. Also make sure you clean up any spillages around where you are storing your food, as that can attract bugs too.
3. Get the quantities right first to avoid food waste when you buy in bulk
Only bulk buy food in quantities you can eat it in. Foods like rice and tinned beans will last years, but nuts, seeds, flour and oil can go rancid. If you bulk buy those types of foods, think about how long they will last you. Can you use up that quantity before it goes off?
4. Only stockpile foods that you can ration out over time
Be careful about the types of foods you stock up on. I recommend avoiding stockpiling snack foods and sweet treats. You could be tempted to eat more of them than usual because you have so much in the house. Even though you are eating it, it could end up costing you more than if you hadn’t bought it in bulk. Plus it is a waste to eat more than you need.
If you think you are likely to go gluten free, or vegan or on a special diet take that into consideration before you bulk buy food that could be a problem.
5. Do regular checks of your food to see what needs using up
Check up on your food supplies periodically to see what needs using up before it goes off. This especially applies if the food item is something you have bought in case of emergencies, but don’t usually use. Long life milk is a good example of this. We keep some in stock as a backup plan for when we have run out of fresh milk. This works really well for when we have been away for a holiday and have limited supplies when we get home. If we don’t need back up milk for a long time though, it can go off. So then it makes sense to use it up and get some new back up milk.
UPDATE: Another way food can go to waste, is if you buy the wrong item by accident. For example there are different types of oats – fast or rolled oats, jumbo oats and oat bran. If you bulk buy one when you were hoping for the other, you might be pretty disappointed! Double check that you are buying the right thing before placing an order.
Bulk buying can be a great way to save money and be more sustainable, as long as you are careful with the types of food you buy and the way you store them. It is also important to remember to use them up in time!
I hope this article was helpful. Do you have any tips to add? Also if you want to talk to other like minded people about keeping food waste low, come and join my friendly food waste Facebook Group: Reduce Your Food Waste Facebook Group