There are literally dozens of options for prepared and prepackaged foods available online. From Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), to freeze-dried *anything*, a quick Google search will give you dozens of options. However, these comfortable and yummy options come with a price. At one store you may expect to pay over $400 dollars per person per month to live in such luxury. At another, you can find deals for $1,600 per person/year in bulk. At a premium site, a family of four can get a deal and only pay $7,500 for deliciously prepared foods in bulk.
I would assume that the average household would have difficulty affording this expense. If you don’t mind cooking and have a basic level of comfort around the kitchen, I would recommend sticking with the basics: sugar, lentils, flour, dried beans, dried split peas, powdered milk, rice, powdered eggs, chicken bouillon, vegetable oil, and the spices and seasonings you enjoy.
I went online and decided to google ‘best online bulk food stores”. The results were anything if not erroneous. Tons of hits yet few were true bulk food suppliers. They were either specialty online grocery stores or the before mentioned disaster preparedness outlets that charge a premium. The exceptions were Walmart.com and Amazon.com.
I jumped on some boards I follow and found bulk foods stores are divided into two camps: prepared foods and bulk ingredients. If you are on a budget and stick to the basics, three more options turned up: RainyDayFoods.com (a Division of Walton Feed), KauffmansFruitFarm.com, and ShopHoneyville.com.
I made a spreadsheet and compared the basic needs for a single person for a year: sugar (50lbs), lentils (50lbs), flour (50lbs), dried beans (50lbs), dried split peas (50lbs), powdered milk (25lbs), rice (25lbs), and powdered eggs (10lbs). I did not factor in shipping costs due the high variability. I ranked the stores based on overall cost of this shopping list. The results were:
- RainyDayFoods.com: $393.60/person
- Walmart.com: $412.40/person
- KauffmansFruitFarm.com: $487.92/person (does not have powdered eggs)
- Amazon.com: $630.18/person
- Bulkfoods.com: $739.94/person
- ShopHoneyville.com: $777.67/person
If you compare best prices from multiple vendors, you can hit $351.36 per person for a year’s supply of food. That is accomplished by picking the best price between RainyDayFoods.com and Walmart.com. For less than $1,600 (the price for a single person eating prepared foods for a year) you can supply a family of four. With the savings you can pick out some nice luxuries like powdered honey, vegetable oil, salt, seasonings, baking powder/soda, etc. As you start shopping, you will find hundreds of awesome items that you may want to add to your list for very affordable bulk prices. As a side note, RainyDayFoods.com is consistently well-reviewed by bulk food consumers and preparedness-minded folks.
I don’t expect many folks to purchase and store over 1,500 lbs of food for a family of four for an entire year. However, buying the basic staples in bulk for even a month translates to less than $30 per person. I will continue this discussion in “Stocking Up? Part 4: Bulk Food Storage”.