Despite the name, the bulk aisle is just as handy for buying small portions of something new you want to try out as it is to buy large quantities of stuff you know you'll use a lot, which can save lots of money and space in your pantry.
I've heard varying opinions on the bulk section, with questions like "how fresh is the food?" It really comes down to knowing your grocery store and being willing to ask questions. I've gotten bulk items from large health food stores like Earth Fare to small local co-ops and have never had an issue with freshness. I've actually become obsessed with hitting up the bulk section whenever going to a new store now. It's fun to see the selection and try new things.
Items You Can Find In Bulk Bins:
- Dry beans
- Flours (including GF options)
- Seeds (including flax and chia)
- Spices and herbs
- Ground and whole bean coffee
- Powders (such as baking powder)
- Cereal and granola
- Trail mix and dried fruits
- Dry pasta
- Nutritional yeast and other odds and ends
Benefits To Buying In Bulk:
Savings are passed on from the lack of individual packaging, labeling and advertising. In fact, a study from Portland State University states that, "Organic bulk foods on average are 89 percent less expensive than their organic packaged counterparts"
It's more Eco-Friendly
Less individual packaging means less waste. PSU also states, "if all Americans switched to bulk purchases for common items, it would save tens of millions of pounds of trash from entering landfills each year."
Only Buy What You Need
Need just a handful of sunflower seeds for a recipe? Get exactly what you need without having the rest of it, that you may never use, take up room in your pantry.
Try New Things
Buying in small quantities means you can test out new grains/nuts/beans/etc. without committing to a whole package.
Buy Hard-To-Find Items
Some items that can be hard to come by, like nutritional yeast, can often be found in the bulk section.
Tips For Buying In Bulk:
- Calculate the price per ounce/lb/etc.
- Feel comfortable asking the workers when the bins were last changed, what their cleaning practices are, etc.
- Take your own containers or re-use containers (make sure to get the tare weight if using your own)
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