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When I moved into my first apartment I was abnormally excited about grocery shopping for myself.
It seemed so…adult.
But, despite the excitement, there were still parts of grocery shopping that required a little more knowledge – and courage.
Like ordering from the meat counter. “Which one? I don’t know. The one that is enough to feed two?!?”
And, inevitably, as I got more adventurous with my home cooking there was always some new ingredient that I just couldn’t find in the store. (After a few years of my life lost wondering the aisles, a friend told me that she just looks for someone who looks like a mom and asks for help. Works like a charm).
However, today I am now the lady in grocery store that young women and men approach for help finding pesto,asparagus, wonton wrappers, etc. and I feel like I have a pretty good handle on grocery shopping. But, there was one area of the grocery store that remained intimidating until recently…
The bulk food section.
I am not sure why I resisted it for such a long time. Maybe it’s because I still have no concept of weight and measurement without the right tools. Or because I feared causing a scene by loosing control and spilling lentils all over the aisle. Or, maybe it’s because I still use a Kurig (I know. Shame on me.) and all the bulk coffee grounds make me feel like a poser.
Regardless, I am glad I worked up the courage to give it a try because buying for in bulk is now one my favorite ways to shop.
Below are a few things to consider if you want to learn how to buy in bulk. Keep reading to find out how and why to buy in bulk!
Why shop in Bulk?
Money Savings: This is number one for a lot of people no matter where they are shopping. I would encourage you to do a little math to ensure that you really are getting a good deal. Depending on the item you might not see the cost savings until you buy so much. But, for the most part, loosing the packaging helps the consumer save money, as that packaging costs the manufacturer money that passes on to you.
Good for the Earth: Ditching the packaging also means less to throw away. Most stores will ask that you put dry goods into plastic bags so that check out is easy, but with a little creativity you can find ways to even give that little bag new life. (Take it when walking the dog, use it to keep wet swim suits in after a day at the pool, and more).
Convenience at Home: It is so nice to know your pantry is full of items to make a great meal even if company shows up unexpectedly, there is a snowstorm, or it’s just a weeknight and the last place you want to go is the store.
You Have Control: You can load up on as much or as little as you want when buying in bulk. I love this when I am trying new things. For example, I was interested in learning more about wheat berries, but I didn’t want to buy a ton incase I wasn’t a fan. This is also nice when there are little chocolate covered almonds at the end of the aisle that you just can’t say “No” to either!
What To Buy In Bulk:
Another reason to buy foods in bulk is that there are so many options! I get that this could contribute to the buying in bulk intimidation factor, but once you get past it you will have a ball checking everything out. I promise!
Popular Bulk Items:
And, don’t forget about other items that can easily be purchased in bulk outside the dry goods aisle such as:
Meat and Seafood: When I find sustainable raised fish on sale, I buy a lot to keep in the freezer. Seasonal produce like tomatoes and berries are easy to preserve and at the height of their seasons the prices can’t be beat.
All this being said, don’t buy things that you and your family won’t eat just because it is something you can buy in bulk. That’s a waste of food, money, and energy.
How to Store Bulk Foods:
Dry goods do best in air tight containers. I like to use mason jars so that it’s easy to see what I have and just about how much there is thanks to the measurement notches on the sides.
Label and date these containers so that it is easy to know what you are looking at and how long it has been in your pantry.
Keep dry goods in cool, dark, and dry spaces as light can damage the quality and nutritional value of dry goods. Most dry good items like beans are good for about a year, while items like rice are good for six months. Most fresh meat is good frozen solid in a freezer for up to a year.