Buying staples like rice in bulk is a great way to fill your pantry and freezer at lower-than-retail prices.

Bulk Buys

Few investments provide the guaranteed returns you’ll get from filling your pantry and freezer with foods bought in bulk at lower-than-retail prices.

Though Jesus had warnings for the rich, He often had encouraging words for those who were good at handling a tight income. He commended good stewards—those who handle financial resources with wisdom, responsibility and charity.

In these times of economic uncertainty, rising prices and other financial pressures, one strategy for stretching a buck is bulk buying. Whether purchasing food, household supplies, appliances or anything else, a good steward will only spend as much as is necessary. One of the best ways to bring down cost is buying in large quantities or joining others in purchasing large lots.

Here are a few money-stretching ideas:

Shop at Warehouse Clubs

Stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club offer great bulk buys. Save significantly on such items as baby diapers and toilet paper. Food items are available at great discounts, though you have to buy in large amounts to bring down prices.

Team Up

Organized buying groups allow you to pay bulk prices without getting too much of one item. If you can’t find a buying group to join, start one with a small group of families or friends. Groups require some effort to organize, but the payoff will be in dollars saved. For more on how to put together a buying group, go to www.startabuyingclub.com.

Buy and Store

Visit local u-pick farms or farmers’ markets to get in-season fruits and vegetables. Buy in bulk and store in small quantities for later use. Rediscover such lost arts as canning, freezing, drying and fermenting. Explore local options at www.localharvest.org. Plug in your city name, and get regional listings of farmers’ markets, and u-pick farms.

All About Protein

Much of our protein comes from meat. Go direct to a local farmer or rancher to buy in bulk for a better price. Find a friend or family member to split a side of beef or pork. Your cost per pound will be cheaper and the quality is often better than you are used to getting. Check out links for local farmers who sell in bulk at www.eatwild.com/products/index.html. Want meatless alternatives? Shop locally at stores that sell bulk dried beans, nuts, seeds and grains. There are also good deals to be found on the Internet.

Grow Your Own

Become more self-reliant by growing your own fruits and vegetables. If your gardening space is limited, join a community garden or try container gardening. Containers can be placed on a deck, patio or in front of a sunny window to provide fresh greens, tomatoes, peppers and more. Use a simple cold frame box to extend your growing season in colder climes. For a low-cost, no-fuss container method, go to www.globalbuckets.org.