The cost of ingredients for specialty foods at the holidays can add up rapidly. So it makes sense to try and buy them as inexpensively as possible. I've talked before about using coupons and store sales to stretch your budget. Today I want to talk about two different kinds of bulk food buying.
The first is the bulk food store. These are stores where most of their products are sold in open barrels or containers, and you scoop out the amount you need into bags or containers and pay by weight. (Bulk Barn is one example of this type of store). The cost of buying items this way is often less than buying pre-packaged brand name items, especially if they are also on sale at the bulk food store. There is also the added advantage of being able to buy exactly the amount you need, so there won't be any waste. Need only 4 squares of bittersweet chocolate for a recipe? No problem ... and no need to buy an entire package of 8 squares and have the rest go to waste.
The second is buying in bulk .. or large quantities. Many regular grocery stores have larger, or "Club Sized" packages of foods for sale, as well as items such as paper plates, napkins, etc. that work out less expensive per unit than smaller packages.
You may also consider shopping at a warehouse type store that specializes in large containers (Costco, for example). It is often cheaper to buy a much larger package of something, rather than two or three smaller packages.
Another thing to consider about buying in large quantities is to pair up with a friend or family neighbor to purchase some of the items that are cheaper in large amounts, but would be much more than you can reasonably use (or more money than you are willing or able to outlay at one time). Found a stellar deal on 10lbs of onions, but you don't need that many? Split it with a neighbor. The 20kg bag of flour from Costco is a steal of a deal but more than you'll use in a year? Get your mom and sister to go in on it with you, and split it three ways.
Whatever you do, ALWAYS take your calculator so you can figure out the per unit price. Sometimes the costs of items in bulk stores can be deceiving. And if it is a perishable item, don't forget to consider whether you will use all of the item before it will spoil. It's not a savings if you end up having to throw out half of the container because you weren't able to finish it before it went bad.