15 of the Best Foods to Buy in Bulk

Buying food in bulk can help you save money and cut waste. But that only works if you actually end up consuming everything you purchase. Using FoodKeeper — a database for food quality standards from the USDA, Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute — here are 15 foods that should stay fresh for a long time, making them excellent options to buy in bulk.

1. Chia seeds

chia seeds in a container and a spoonCredit: Diana Taliun/Getty Images

  • Consume within: 18 months

Chia seeds are often referred to as a superfood due to their impressive concentration of omega-3 fats, fiber, magnesium, calcium and antioxidants,” according to Healthline. They can be a bit pricey, so you’ll get more bang for your buck when you buy in bulk. Store them in the pantry, and they should be fresh for about a year and a half.

2. Cinnamon (ground)

  • Consume within: 3 to 4 years

Many spices have a shelf life of several years, so don’t hesitate to stock up on the ones you use most often. If you’re a cinnamon fan, you’ll be happy to hear it can last for up to four years, as long as it’s stored in an airtight container in the pantry. Another seasoning you might want to buy in bulk? Salt. It can maintain its quality indefinitely when stored in a well-sealed container.

3. Coconut oil

  • Consume within: 3 years

Many oils tend to spoil in a matter of months. For instance, olive or vegetable oils last six to 12 months in the pantry (and three to five months after opening), according to FoodKeeper. But coconut oil can stay fresh for up to three years when stored in a cool, dry place. “Coconut oil … is more resistant to oxidation than other vegetable oils,” Healthline says. “Plus, unrefined virgin coconut oil contains powerful antioxidants that are thought to help protect the oil from spoilage.”

4. Dried beans

a mixture of dried beans in a bowlCredit: KenWiedemann/Getty Images

  • Consume within: 1 to 2 years

Store dried beans in the pantry, and they can stay fresh for up to two years (and one year after opening). Although they take some work to prepare, they’re typically the most economical choice when it comes to beans — especially when you buy in bulk. Older beans might take longer to get tender, according to Food Network. So you should keep them in an airtight container to preserve their quality for as long as possible.

5. Dried fruit

  • Consume within: 6 months

If you can’t manage to eat all your fresh fruit before it goes bad, you might want to try some dried fruit. Many dried fruits — such as raisins, apricots, mangoes and cranberries — will last about six months when stored unopened in the pantry. After opening, it’s best to move the fruit to the refrigerator, where it will stay fresh for about six months (compared to one month opened in the pantry). “Keep in mind that dried fruit is higher in calories and sugar than fresh fruit and should be eaten in small amounts,” Healthline says. “Choose unsweetened dried fruit whenever possible to limit added sugar intake.”

6. Frozen berries

  • Consume within: 8 to 12 months

Frozen fruit also can be a great alternative if you often find yourself with spoiled fresh fruit — especially for berries. “Frozen berries are similar in nutritional value to fresh berries and can be purchased in bulk at lower prices,” Healthline says. Varieties — including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries and raspberries — typically last for less than a week in the refrigerator but for up to a year in the freezer, according to FoodKeeper.

7. Frozen vegetables

  • Consume within: 8 months

Just like with fruit, if you don’t eat your veggies fast enough you might want to consider some frozen options. Frozen vegetables often are nutritionally similar to fresh produce. And sometimes they might even “contain more vitamins and phytonutrients than days-old fresh items, though additional cooking and storage after defrosting may close that gap,” according to Harvard Medical School. Just be aware of any added ingredients, such as salt, that are in the frozen varieties.

8. Nuts

mixed nuts in a wooden bowlCredit: ThitareeSarmkasat/Getty Images

  • Consume within: 1 year

In general, FoodKeeper says nuts in a jar or can last about a year when stored in the pantry, though certain varieties have slightly different lifespans. After opening, they’ll maintain freshness for roughly two to nine months in the pantry, four to six months in the fridge and six to 12 months frozen. Plus, nuts still in their shells tend to last longer than shelled nuts. And even though they can be tedious to crack, that extra work might be worth it. “An extra benefit of nuts in the shell is that it takes more time and effort to prepare them than shelled nuts, which may slow eating and lead to a reduction in calorie intake,” Healthline says.

9. Oatmeal

  • Consume within: 1 year

If you’re an oatmeal fan, stock up on this heart-healthy food. “Oats are high in B vitamins, magnesium and zinc, as well as a particular type of fiber called beta-glucan, which may help lower cholesterol, reduce blood sugar levels and increase feelings of fullness,” Healthline says. And according to FoodKeeper, the oats can last six to 12 months after opening, as long as you store them in an airtight container in the pantry.

10. Pasta (dried, no eggs)

  • Consume within: 2 years

Fresh pasta can last for a couple of months in the freezer. But dried pasta can maintain its quality for about two years in the pantry — and one year once it’s opened. “After opening, store the remaining pasta in an airtight container to prolong its shelf life, and toss it if you find any bugs or off odors,” Food Network recommends.

11. Peanut butter

  • Consume within: 1 year

Natural peanut butter can be a little pricier than the more processed alternatives. But it should be good for about a year when stored in the refrigerator — and for up to four months after you open it. So it’s likely worth it to spring for the large container if you tend to eat peanut butter a lot. The more processed peanut butters have similar lifespans, but they often can be stored in the pantry.

12. Popcorn (kernels in a jar)

Popcorn in a white bowlCredit: Teen00000/Getty Images

  • Consume within: 2 years

Whole popcorn — the kernels that typically come in a jar with no additives — can be a very healthy snack. “Popcorn is high in fiber, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and polyphenol antioxidants,” according to Healthline. And it can stay fresh for up to two years in the pantry — one year once the container is opened. So spend fewer bucks a pop by getting this snack in bulk.

13. Quinoa

  • Consume within: 2 to 3 years

Uncooked quinoa can last a whopping three years if it’s stored in a tightly sealed container in the pantry. And when you buy in bulk, you usually can get this nutritious little seed (technically speaking, it’s a pseudocereal and not a whole grain) at a much better price. Quinoa is one of the few complete protein sources from a plant, meaning it has all nine essential amino acids. And it’s full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more, making it a great choice for a bulk buy.

14. Rice

  • Consume within: 2 years (white, wild), 1 year (brown)

Rice is another grain that you shouldn’t hesitate to buy in bulk. White and wild rice will stay fresh for up to two years — one year after opening if you keep it in the pantry and six months if you store it in the fridge. Brown rice has a slightly shorter lifespan overall, but it also keeps for about a year in the pantry and six months in the fridge after opening. “Just watch for bugs or other contaminants (and if you find any, toss the whole container),” Food Network says.

15. Tea

Green tea being poured into a cup next to loose teaCredit: 4kodiak/Getty Images

  • Consume within: 18 to 36 months (bag), 2 years (loose)

If you’re a tea drinker, you’ll be happy to know you can save some money by buying in bulk without sacrificing freshness. According to FoodKeeper, tea bags will last up to three years in the pantry, and loose tea will keep for about two years. Aim to consume your tea about a year after opening. For peak quality, store tea bags in their original box or a sealed container to limit exposure to odors and moisture, The Kitchn recommends. Likewise, keep loose tea in something airtight that will keep out light.

Main image credit: sagarmanis/Getty Images

76 comments

Frances G
Frances G4 hours ago

thank you for sharing

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Lisa M
Lisa M1 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M1 days ago

Thanks.

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Anna R
Anna R2 days ago

thank you

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Elinor Dorrian
Elinor Dorrian2 days ago

The frozen food is a good idea, unless you have small children, who help themselves to ice cream, but just occasioally, don’t close the freezer door properly.

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Marija M
Marija M2 days ago

Enjoy!

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Sue M
Sue M3 days ago

Interesting - thanks for sharing

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Michael Friedmann

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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Jan S
Jan S3 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Tabot T
Tabot T3 days ago

Thanks for sharing!

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