How many people take advantage of the bulk section of their grocery store? I have one friend who refuses to use them and thinks I’m crazy for buying things from that section of the store. But, I love it and over the years, I’ve learned a lot and want to pass on my tips and tricks for tackling bulk bin shopping.
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What You Can Buy
The options can be overwhelming at times when you first step into the bulk section, but once you get in there, you’ll find that there is organization to the chaos. Often times you can find several different kinds of flour – from almond, coconut, unbleached, bread, etc.
Beyond flour, you can find many baking ingredients, beans, rice, trail mix, nuts, candy, and so much more.
There are so many great advantages when it comes to utilizing this the bulk section! If you haven’t, I hope my top 5 reasons will get you considering something new!
Getting Exactly What You Need
The bulk bin section is the spot to hit when you need a specific amount of something that you might not always need to have on hand. This is incredibly useful when you’re trying a new spice, and don’t want to spend $5 on a spice you might never use again.
This ties into getting exactly what you need. For items you don’t use that much, you won’t be throwing away any unused ingredients. You’ll be getting exactly what you need, leaving nothing to waste. You’ll also be buying less packaging which is such a simple way to decrease the amount of garbage.
Often times, the prices will be less expensive in the bulk section and when you combine that with only buying what you need, you can potentially see some savings at checkout.
When shopping in bulk, you are not paying a premium for name brand items or fancy packaging.
One of the great things about the bulk section is that most of the food is healthy. Some stores do carry generic cereal in bulk and there’s always candy so be very careful (I’m looking at you, chocolate almonds). Other than a few things, there’s usually not a lot of options that carry added preservatives, so if you’re trying to get healthier, this is a relatively safe section of the store (minus the candy bins).
Tips and Trick on How to Shop the Bulk Section
Go in with a list of what you need, and look for those items only. It’s so easy to get distracted and grab things you don’t need.
So, one thing I’ve learned after throwing away mystery ingredients – don’t just write the bin number down, write the actual item on that tab as well. I’ve thrown away spices and some sort of flour because I had no idea what it was.
Another tip I’ve learned the hard way is to double bag any flour or sugar items you purchase! I have had bags rip in my car….and the mess is not okay. So double bag or bring your own reusable bag if the store allows it.
You can leave your items in the bags but I highly discourage this option. It’s best to put them in labeled storage containers. I know many stores carry small blank spice bottles you can buy for pretty cheap for storage or grab some like these at Amazon. Other containers, I pick up at Ikea or The Container Store or Marshalls. I’ve picked up a few sets, like this one, at Amazon to get me started.
Potential Downfall of Bulk Bins
The friend I mentioned earlier? She hates the bulk bins because she swears they’re not sanitary. I can see her argument, but if your store has the pourable dispensers, this isn’t an issue. Not all stores have them, and even within stores, there may be a variety of containers – pourable and scoop containers.
This is another concern for some people (not my friend though). High traffic stores like Whole Foods and WinCo, freshness isn’t much of a concern as the bulk sections always have people in them. If you’re worried about freshness, make sure to hit busy stores.
It’s VERY easy, especially with those pourable bulk containers to get way too much. Even without the pourable containers, it’s easy to grab more than you need, or to grab things not on your list, causing you to spend more money than necessary.