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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sourcing Bulk Foods Locally

Tracking down sources of wheat, corn, beans, rice and other long-term storage foods can sometimes be difficult.  Even though California produces massive amounts of these foods, finding them in bulk can be problematic.

Most stores now have bulk food aisles.  You can buy a few pounds of these items, generally at a significant discount to the pre-packaged 1- to 5-pound bags in the "regular" aisles.  At least with one western states supermarket chain, you can do better still.

Winco Foods has an excellent bulk foods section.  What I have recently learned is that you can buy the bulk foods in their larger 25- or 50-pound sacks.  If you can wait a couple of days, that is.

I recently purchased 100 pounds of Hard Red Winter Wheat from them.  In the bulk aisle, it is going for $0.58 a pound.  If you buy it in the 25-pound sacks, it is $0.55 a pound.  You just need to track down the bulk foods department, place your order, and wait (usually) two days for delivery.

So, how does this stack up when compared to buying it from online sources in the 45-pound "Super Pails"?

My all-in cost will be $24.75 for the 45-pounds of wheat, $8.67 for the bucket and gasketed lid, $1.79 for the mylar bag, and $0.60 for the 4, 500cc oxygen absorbers, for a grand total of $35.81.

Including delivery charges to California, at Emergency Essentials will cost $41.35 (must buy at least 200 lbs), Walton Feed will cost $47.39 and Pleasant Hill Grains will cost $71.20 (yikes!).

I must say, I was kind of surprised by the great price at Emergency Essentials.  I've used them in the past for some other purchases, and have found them to be quite reputable.  They must have very thin margins!  If I didn't already own all of the buckets, lids, etc., for $5 per Super Pail over my cost, it might make sense to buy from them and not have the time-expense of preparing the buckets.

I'm still trying to find other bulk food sources to help drive down the cost-per-pound - especially for wheat.

For items such as corn - which I've been able to source locally - the cost to make up my own buckets is a much easier decision.  I can get the corn for $0.30 a pound, so my cost for a 40lb filled bucket is $24.57.  Walton Feed is $52.19 and Emergency Essentials is $60.35.  Go figure!

Accept The Challenge

For difficult-to-source food items, you must sometimes "pay through the nose" to get them in your hands.  Expensive Food beats No Food, though, any day of the week!

Putting some time into finding local sources can pay off nicely.  Consider feed stores, but be sure you're purchasing animal feed, and NOT planting seeds, as these will most likely contain insecticides on the seeds!  Most animal feed is the same as "human feed" - it just will have a few more weeds and other chaff in the sacks.  YMMV, so verify the grains first.

Also look at "natural foods" stores  and "big box" stores such as Costco and Sam's Club as sources.

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Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Joseph said...

One place to check is find a local buying club that buys in bulk. We used to live in central TX and there was a lady there that ordered from Wheat Montana and an 18 wheeler would show up at her house.

We paid something like $2-3 over the price of the buckets or bags and the only requirement was we helped unload the truck when it showed up. Unfortunately we have since moved but finally, after a year of looking off/on found a lady here that orders it herself and you just go pick it up. The price is something like $5 over the listed price on their website but still very reasonable.

The Hermit said...

I've purchased from Walton Feed over the years with good results. There are not really many bulk food outlets here in the Smoky Mountains so I have to have things shipped in.

Chief Instructor said...

Joseph, great point. The name escapes me right now, but there is a large chain of co-ops, and they actually have some outlets in the Nor Cal area (I believe they're nationwide, though). I need to run down the name of the place.

Hermit, I got all of my initial wheat supplies from Walton. Very reliable folks, good prices and a very wide variety.

I just wish I lived in Idaho so I could cut out my shipping costs!

mama4x said...

I get all my bulks from the LDS storehouse. You don't have to be a member to buy. I get $6 for 25# wheat, $14 for 25# beans or sugar, $8 for 25# oats, and I think about $12 for 25# rice. It's local and that means no shipping. They sell 100pk of O2 absorbers for $8 and 12x12in. Mylar bags with labels for .35 each. Can't be beat.