Buying food in bulk has a variety of benefits, and it’s easier to do than ever before. Bulk sections are springing up in most major food stores across the country.
Before you fill up on the variety of healthy foods you’ll find in those bins, take a tour of your local supermarket's bulk section to see what’s on offer. Some will be items you already buy frequently, like flour. Others may be new to your menu, like quinoa or even lentils. The key to saving money with bulk food is to only buy healthy foods you’ll actually eat. Don’t purchase things that will just linger in your pantry just because you can.
Here’s how buying in bulk is good for you:
1. You’ll save money.
Buying in bulk can save a family up to $500 per year. It may also mean spending less time in the supermarket, which can result in even more savings, as most of us frequently indulge in spontaneous purchases. If you're not there, you won't succumb to these little purchases that can quickly add up! Finally, shopping strategically means visiting the store less and maybe driving less — saving gas and even more money.
2. You’ll reduce the amount of food additives you consume.
Heavily processed foods, like many of the packaged convenience foods you find in the center shelves of the grocery store, are stripped of much of their nutritional value. They also have a lot of synthetic additives and preservatives in them (not to mention all the extra sugars and salt). Buying bulk whole foods, opting for healthy snacks, and making meals from scratch is a far healthier way to shop. Much of what is found in those bulk bins only contains one ingredient!
3. You’ll reduce food packaging — and chemical exposure.
Buying in bulk uses less packaging (though watch out for warehouse store options that are cases of individually wrapped smaller servings!). According to ShiftYourHabit.com, if everyone bought in bulk, we'd save enough packaging waste to eliminate 1.1 million fewer garbage trailer trips to the landfill per year. Some food packaging can release its chemical components into your food, too. If you’re putting bulk beans into your own reusable bag, you won’t have to worry about that!
4. You’ll reuse.
Speaking of reusables, take your newfound bulk love a step further by using BYO durable containers instead of the disposable bags at the store. Safer plastics for food storage include those numbered 2, 4, and 5. Glass or stainless steel is even better. Cotton and/or hemp reusable produce bags are also great. Just measure your containers before you fill them up so you won’t be charged extra. If you must use plastic bags, try to reuse them several times and then return them to the store for recycling.
Extra credit! Why stop at food? Buy shampoo, soap, toilet paper, and anything else available in bulk or large sizes! And when you get home, make sure to put your newly purchased healthy food and other items in airtight containers and clearly label them with their name and the date of purchase. Grains and some nuts even do well in the freezer.
- Know Your Plastics
- 5 Questions on Food Additives with Scientist Dr. Maricel Maffini
- Chemical Watch: Bisphenol-S Doesn't Get an "A"
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com