I could spend hours in the bulk bin aisle. Reminiscent of a candy store, the food in the bulk bin aisle is lined up in colorful rows. The clear, shiny cylinders contain a lever that you pull to unleash the goodness inside. It really is a fun experience and you will never believe what you can buy. Flours, sugars, salts, spices, beans, pasta, grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, cereal, protein shake powder, hummus mix powder, nutritional yeast… the list goes on. I buy my sea salt for $.69/lb and just refill my salt shaker. That is dirt cheap! I even use my own reusable produce bags now so I have eliminated all packaging from the equation. Bulk bin buying couldn’t get any cheaper or greener, if you ask me. Here are some great reasons you should buy in bulk.
Buy Small Quantities
There’s nothing worse than needing 1/2 cup of some obscure ingredient and spending $6 for a bag of xantham gum you are never going to use again. With bulk bins you can buy as much or as little as you want. Need to make a gluten free cake for your friend’s birthday? You can even bring your own measuring cup if you’d like and measure out rice flour, coconut flour and sorghum flour to your hearts desire. I swear all these flours exist and are in the bulk bin aisle, along with many others that I have never heard of. Another amazing thing you can buy in bulk that you may not need much of, are spices. We’ve all had to make a recipe with a spice we don’t have and ended up spending $8 on cardamom that sat in the cupboard for years. Go check, it’s still there.
Try Something New
Everyone is talking about how great millet is lately. Quinoa is so last year. But you don’t know if you like it or what it tastes like. Instead of buying a package and hoping for the best, you can buy a small quantity and see how it goes. By the way, millet is really good!
By buying food in bulk you are saving so much waste from the packaging that is used in most products. Paper, cardboard, plastic and ink are all used for packaging and all end up in a landfill eventually. Bulk foods are also often organic and local, so you are reducing the environmental impact of chemicals sprayed on the food, and any fuel used in transporting food products long distances. Like I said earlier, if you bring your own reusable bags, you are completely waste free!
Who knows how long that can of beans covered in dust has been sitting on the shelf. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy canned beans for situations where I don’t have time to soak them, but I prefer the bulk kind. Most canned foods also contain the chemical BPA which studies have shown can cause negative health effects. By buying in bulk you are avoiding this chemical, and since the bins are replenished so often, you are always getting the freshest foods available.
One recent study shows that you can save up to 89% by buying in bulk! That’s pretty crazy. Nowadays when I walk past the packages of rice and bags of flour, I laugh… all the way to the bank! Who would ever buy a package of organic brown rice for $5 when you can buy it for $1.99/lb? Buying a can of organic beans can cost over $2 in some stores. For beans! Buying them in bulk and cooking them yourself ends up costing less than 50 cents a can.
If you aren’t convinced by now to take a stroll down your bulk bin aisle, you are probably a robot. Seriously though, check out your local Whole Foods or co-op and see what they have. Now, if only Trader Joe’s had bulk bins…