15 Foods You’re Better Off Buying in Bulk That Have Long (and Sometimes Unexpected) Shelf Lives

Buying groceries in bulk may seem daunting, but this strategy can save you significant money and time. The key is to make informed choices about what to buy. 

Due to their longer shelf life, some food items are perfect for bulk purchases. This approach saves you from frequent shopping trips and ensures you always have essential staples. It can also help curb impulse buying.

Buying in bulk can be a smart financial move in the long run, as it saves you money per unit. Mindfully American reviewed high-authority sources to compile a list of 15 food items that are ideal for bulk purchases. So, clear some space in your refrigerator and pantry, and consider these items for your next shopping trip.

1: Boxed Cereal

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Boxed cereal is perfect for a quick and easy breakfast or snack. It can even be nutritious if you skip the sugary options and opt for whole grains or protein-enriched products. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), unopened cereal lasts 6-12 months, and opened cereal lasts three months. This makes it practical to store in the pantry. 

2: Bread

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Bread can last significantly longer when stored in the freezer. While it typically lasts two to four days in your pantry, freezing it can extend its shelf life to three months. The freezer’s cold temperature helps keep your loaf fresh for longer. 

Healthline suggests a simple method to avoid freezer burn: wrap your bread in plastic wrap, then cover it with aluminum foil. When ready to enjoy your bread, thaw it on the counter or pop it straight into the toaster.

3: Pasta

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Unless you are on a low-carb diet, pasta is a staple in your home. Due to its variety of shapes and ingredients, this American favorite can inspire budding home cooks to create new dishes and is also an excellent choice for a quick and easy meal. 

If you store your pasta in a cool, dry space, it can last for two or more years. Once opened, it’s best to move into an airtight container, where it can last for about the same amount of time.

4: Rice And Other Grains

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Rice is another well-loved pantry staple, as are its brothers, couscous and quinoa. These affordable grains add bulk to meals and can really make a dish go further. Rice is popular in many cultures. 

U.S.A. Rice says that white rice can last indefinitely, but brown rice and other whole grains can last for six months in a pantry. Store grains in the freezer to increase longevity. 

5: Canned Fish

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Canned tuna and salmon are full of protein and healthy fat, which makes them good for you and your pantry. They can last up to five years if stored in a cool, dry place. The USDA advises never to store canned goods near ovens or damp places, like under the sink or in the basement.

Canned fish can be used in various cold or hot recipes, making it an excellent product. From salads to sandwiches to casseroles, you won’t regret having a case or two of tuna or salmon around.

6: Canned Veggies and Fruit

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The shelf life of canned vegetables and fruits varies depending on the product. It is always a good idea to check the expiration date on the can.

Experts say acidic foods like tomatoes and certain fruits last up to 18 months, while low-acid products can last up to five years. Remember to always look for low-sodium or low-sugar versions of canned veggies and fruits for those with health concerns.

7: Nuts

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Nuts have protein, fiber, and healthy fats. This satisfying snack, which can also elevate complex recipes, is known to be pricey. However, when buying in large quantities, you get more for less. 

While your instincts may lead you to store nuts in the pantry, experts recommend making room in your freezer. By keeping them frozen, you can avoid mold and extend their shelf life (or shall we say freezer life?).

8: Peanut Butter

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Peanut butter is more affordable than almond or cashew butter. This protein-rich product can be used in numerous delicious ways. Whether you prefer it smooth or crunchy, it’s a versatile food.

Some prefer keeping the product in the pantry, and some prefer refrigeration. According to Food.gov, peanut butter can last two to three months in the pantry after opening and four months in the refrigerator after opening.

9: Dried Beans

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The versatile bean is perfect for having at your fingertips when you want to cook a hearty stew, chili, or soup. Beans are cheap and have excellent nutritional value.

According to the Bean Institute, the longer beans stay in your pantry, the longer it takes to cook them to the perfect texture. Store them in a jar with a tight lid in a cool and dark place, and they can last for essentially forever. 

10: Butter

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Butter storage can be a controversial topic. Some Americans store it on the counter and some in the fridge. Whatever your take on this long-time debate, many can agree that butter is a delicious and vital kitchen staple.

Butter can last up to three months in the refrigerator. If bought in bulk, it can last up to five months with a few simple storage tricks. Keeping butter in its original wrapping and putting it in a freezer bag will extend its shelf life, helping you make the most of your purchase.

11: Olive Oil

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Olive oil is a pricey product. While a small amount of this healthy favorite can last a long time, replacing a bottle at the last minute can add up quickly.

You can save money by purchasing a large bottle or can of olive oil. Store it in a cool, dark, and dry place, and it lasts up to a year. Once opened, it remains fresh for six months. 

12: Sugar

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Sugar can last up to two years after being opened. Buying a large bag of this sweet stuff is a good idea as it can be economical and long-lasting. 

Whether granulated, brown, or powdered sugar, all sugars are equally long-lasting. Storing sugar in a cool, dry place in a container can help to maintain its quality and prevent clumping.

13: Flour

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Whether baking or thickening up sauces, flour is a kitchen mainstay. Unopened, it can last a whole year. Opened, it lasts around eight months.

Store flour in a container in the fridge for a year to keep it fresh. This inexpensive baking essential will be readily available for your culinary needs.

14: Ground Beef

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If you purchase large quantities of ground beef, you can separate it, make it into burger patties, meatballs, or smaller packages, and freeze them. Burger enthusiasts will appreciate this trick.

Ground beef can stay fresh in the freezer for four months. According to the Cleveland Clinic, to be safe, it is best to defrost ground beef in the refrigerator, not the counter. 

15: Shredded Cheese

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If shredded cheese is your bag, you can save a lot of money by buying it in bulk. Separate the cheese into smaller portions and freeze them.

When you crave cheese, defrost it and sprinkle it on top of dishes or into your favorite recipes. It is best to eat it within nine months. After you thaw the cheese, do not refreeze it.

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