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Old 03-02-2013, 07:02   #1
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Buying Bulk Food/Supplies

We're getting ready to stock up in a big way in preparation for sailing to the Caribbean, Panama, and on to Australia.

Where are the best, most economical places to buy in bulk?
Heard of Costco but some say they are not so good on pricing, and you have to be a member.
What do other CF members do?

Vic
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:05   #2
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

If you use toilet paper and paper towels Costco is the place. Good quality, half the price of supermarkets.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:22   #3
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

Sam's Club and Costco offer great deals...but you have to be a member to reap the benefits. Sam's might have a special one-day visit pass to try. Fruits and vegetables do not keep for long; 7 days max. Eggs can keep for a month, in cool ventilation. Stock up on "hard" cheese, like Parmesan. Spaghetti and the likes can be stored forever. Ditto for powdered milk, canned fish/meats and fruits/PB in jars. Bread for sandwiches can be kept for a couple of weeks. Check Saturday Farmer's Markets in most islands, where modestly priced items can be bought; do not buy locally canned/jarred ANYTHING, as the local hygiene is usually lacking. Around the Grenadines, you may find locals in skiffs trying to sell you loads of green bananas, lobster, fish and locally grown produce in exchange for beer; know how to barter, using beer as currency. Have fun! Mauritz
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:34   #4
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

Be wary of the warehouse club prices. I have found that frequently WalMart beats them. Another thing is that a lot of stuff at the warehouse clubs is name brand only, so if you insist on buying that brand you can do well, but often there are no name products that I think are just as good that can be had cheaper. The things to really stock up on are the things you can't live without and will probably be hard to find at a cheaper price far from home. Be careful not to buy a lot of something just because it's cheap. And be careful not to buy a lot of something you're not sure of.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:42   #5
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

Check out Wise Food Storage - Emergency, Long Term, and Camping Meals. The stuff is relatively inexpensive, stores well, tastes okay and is easy to fix. A lot of it contains tofu so if you like real meat check the individual contents carefully. It's a step up from MREs but not as good as the more expensive Mountain House products.

I'm not suggesting this type of foodstuff for constant use, but it does have its place for long passages.
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Old 03-02-2013, 13:59   #6
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

Thanks for all the suggestions so far.
We don't have a problem with a lot of the no name products and will no doubt stock up some from this source.
We will buy local and fresh as we go, but there are going to be places where stuff isn't available and then we'll be dipping into the ship's stores.

Sandy has ordered in some Honeyville products online for us to try before we buy any kind of quantity. Freezedried butter, tomato paste, mushrooms, eggs, onions. Most of it to add to the way she like to cook, and I like to eat
Saco Foods Mix 'n Drink powdered mild seems ok so we'll stock up on that too.
It would be good to find a source for bulk grains and spices.

Vic
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Old 03-02-2013, 14:10   #7
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

For bulk grains and spices, check a local India grocery or a middle eastern one. Their selections and prices cannot be beat. Stop by the island of Trinidad to shop for East Indian apparels and spices. Stop by the island of Grenada to stock up on most spices that you'll ever need; nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper and allspice, to name a few. (Careful when returning with all these goodies back to the US; US customs may not be thrilled.) Mauritz
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Old 03-02-2013, 14:28   #8
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We have a mixture of a few:
- Wise foods (2x Dinner buckets 1x Breakfast bucket)
- 20 Assorted #10 Cans (Mountain House and Saratoga Farms)
*Canned Butter powder
*Canned Bullion Powder
*Canned Milk Powder
*Dried Veggies and Fruits
*Soups
*Dinners
Etc
- Hawk Vittels (true gourmet freeze dried meals)
hawkvittles.com/
- Yoders Canned Meat (Taco filling is better than Taco bells)
- Grandma Werlings Canned Meat (many to choose from)
- Canned Beans, Pickled veggies, and Corn (US and European choices as my Wife is German)
Etc

We try to have at least 6mo+ of 'Ready-To-Eat' supplies on board just in case .

Remember, most have 10-25yrs shelf life so no worries on rushing.

We used the slow build approach and ordered it monthly for 2yrs to stock up.
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Old 03-02-2013, 14:33   #9
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

Costco is great for bulk olive oil, peanut butter, canned meats, and bulk pasta. Sometimes there's rice, sometimes not, but any Asian market has rice by the ton. In Central America there's Price Mart (additional membership required, even though they're costco-owned). Canned tuna is often the only available canned meat (that I'll eat--I don't count canned sardines or anchovies) in other countries, and often the quality is dubious. Costco also excels for AA and AAA batteries, TP and paper towels, and giant shampoo bottles. Oh, and candy and nuts. I have Costco-sized spices that are three years old, and their flavor is sadly gone. I now prefer to buy small quantities of whatever spices can be found locally. Even if you fill your boat to capacity with long-keeping bulk supplies, you'll find yourself always grateful for a grocery store.
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Old 03-02-2013, 14:47   #10
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

Vic, I believe this butter has a really long shelf life without refrigeration but in the tropics you may need to chill it or it will be liquid butter.

Butter - Pure Creamery Canned Butter

Please note I have no commercial arrangement with this product just trying to help with some information.
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Old 03-02-2013, 14:48   #11
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

When you transit the Canal, Panama City has good provisioning. Big box stores, expat groceries, giant fresh vegie market. Just rent a cab by the hour and hit them all.
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Old 03-02-2013, 15:29   #12
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

I'm a fan of freeze dried meats, veggies, etc but beware of the dehydrated meals that are loaded with sodium (eg. camp meals).

Wise is good for emergency only (like Epicenter, Nitropac, Rainy day) but pricey.

For best price you will be surprised at how many freeze dried and bulk foods are on Amazon. Do a search there after you decide on what to purchase.
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Old 03-02-2013, 15:48   #13
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

After almost a year in Mexico, #1 food regret, not buying a LOT of peanut butter at Costco in the US where it was cheap. #2 food regret, not buying a LOT of dehydrated hash browns at Costco even though they weren't cheap.
The food products (like peanuts) that are subsidized by the US government are cheaper there than in Mexico. If I had it to do over again I'd get the list of those foods and buy more of them there.
#3 food regret. No root beer in Mexico except at expat stores where it's a small fortune.
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Old 03-02-2013, 16:44   #14
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

Ingredients used in the production of root beer, are used in pharmaceuticals made outside the US. You will not find root beer outside the US. In Egypt, they make something similar to root beer, but is sold by local vendors carrying a big ornate jug; sold by the glass, and is called "AARK-SOOSS". It is as close as you will ever get to root beer. I'd prefer an ice cold glass of freshly squeezed sugar cane juice; many caribbean islands sell it, with a twist of lemon. Mauritz
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:22   #15
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Re: Buying bulk food/supplies

The number one rule in provisioning is to "try one first." And there's a lot of dehydrated food that's just not that good, so do be sure to try it before stocking up in bulk.

However, after cruising for 6+ years, the biggest thing I'd say is that you're going to be surprised at what good provisioning is available out there. You really don't need to carry 6 months' worth of provisions with you from the start. A few special treats, sure -- but you don't need to stuff the boat. And at times when you're heading to areas with limited provisioning, you can stock up just before you go there.

So much stuff that we stocked up on initially we just didn't use . . . had several boxes of instant mashed potatoes, and discovered that we could always get fresh potatoes and mash them by hand, and they were way better. Instant mashed potatoes also got bugs in them and had to be thrown away -- and the bug mess cleaned up. And so on -- we really wasted a lot of the money we spent on initial provisioning!

Have a great time on your trip!
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