Buying in Bulk? Tips to Help You Through the Bulk Food Section
I am now old enough to say things like, “I’ve been buying food from the bulk section of the grocery store/co-op for fourteen years.” So instead of feeling like that comment ages me, I’ll follow up by patting myself on the back for making healthy and local food choices that will likely extend my life by another fourteen years!
I remember feeling slightly intimidated by the bulk section of grocery stores and knowing there was a different feel to the bulk sections in a natural foods store or co-op than the one I got from your standard grocery store. After all these years I now believe there is a difference in quality, freshness and variety.
Buying in bulk is a really helpful tool, especially in our current economic state. You save money because you’re not paying for packaging and marketing of these products, so the retailer can give you a better price. Local food market co You can purchase as much as you’d like, throw in a few spices and you’ve got a great dish for your whole family.
To help encourage you to shop in bulk if you haven’t already, here are a few tips:
- Retailers typically offer you plastic bags to use, which is fine, but I try to bring along my own container (s). BEFORE you fill your container or reusable bag (search reusable or bulk bags on Etsy…some are drawstring and some Velcro shut and they are awesome and worth the investment), be sure to weigh it on the scale and mark the weight on the sticker you use to write the PLU number.
- Find the item you are looking for and decide if you’d like enough for the dish you’re making and perhaps another meal, or if it’s an item you go through quickly enough to purchase five pounds of.
- Note the PLU number on the description of the item and either write it on the provided blank sticker or tap it into the digital scale.
- Some retailers have an actual digital scale to weigh your own food and some take the weight at the cash register. Customer friendly retailers will have posted a simple, How-To at the digital scale within the bulk food section.
- Because we’re all busy and some of us are still learning the colors of different beans, the textures of different flowers and the shapes of different nuts and seeds, I recommend writing what you just purchased right onto the blank sticker next to or under the PLU number. That way you don’t have to guess what to do with the mystery food in the bags when you get home.
- Store your items once you get home. Some throw the bags right into their pantry, but I recommend an organized enough system so you can find what you need when you need it. I love using, and in fact, collect, old school Mason jars. I do label some jars so my husband can’t say he doesn’t know what’s in them.
Here is how I store items from the bulk section:
· Spices: I purchased one clear bulk bottle from the bulk aisle every once in a while until I had enough to help me organize my spice storage with the little space I have.
· Flour: I store flours in very large old jars. We go through it quickly as my daughter now likes to bake on her own and they are easy for her to access. If I have excess I store it in our spare deep freeze.
· Grains: I also store these in jars and they are really quite pretty to look at. I love their textures, colors and if I can see them, I know they need to be used.
· Legumes: I typically purchase triple what I need in this department. Legumes (beans) are so inexpensive that it’s worth it to have them on hand as many recipes call for them. They are high in protein and a great addition to many dishes. I make a double batch and still have dried beans left over. These are also pretty to look at.
· Pasta: These are also appealing to the eye, you just have to store them so they won’t break. Again, I use large jars for these.
The many benefits to you in shopping the bulk section include using less processed food, less genetically modified food, saving money, increasing the health of you and your family, and expanding your knowledge of food.