Being Resourceful on a Budget in the Bulk Aisle

I love the bulk aisle in my grocery store! When I turn that corner I know I am going to save a ton of money, not use packaging, and get the freshest ingredients. And the true magic of the bulk area: I only have to get what I need.

In other words, no food waste.

Here are some tips to maximize your next visit to the bulk aisle:

  1.  Inventory your pantry. For recipes, check for ingredients you already have.
  2. Make a grocery list. Include the exact amounts you need (¼ cup sugar, tsp nutmeg).
  3. Pack up the containers you will need for each of the items on your grocery list. I bring glass spice containers and jars for my coffee and olive oil. I love Nancy’s Yogurt containers for my dry goods because they are durable, white on the top for easy writing of the PLU (price lookup) numbers. I can even write what is in the container on the side (which is necessary since there are usually about 7 or 8 of these containers in my pantry). Also for your first trip, pack some measuring tools (cup, tablespoons).
  4. When you first get to the bulk aisle, weigh your containers. Write the weight and the word “Tare”. Cashiers are required to remove this weight from the total they charge you. If your store doesn’t have a scale in the bulk area, you can ask a cashier to weigh containers before you fill them.
  5. If you are like me, it is hard to eyeball the measurements of the scoops in the bins. You can use your trusty measuring tools to see how much is in one scoop. (Don’t put your own measuring tools into the bins! This can cause concern about food contamination.)
  6. Write the PLU clearly on the top of your container.
  7. Check out the ingredients and if available the source of the items you are purchasing. Just because it is in the bulk area doesn’t necessarily mean that it is organic, local or good for you. Reading labels can help you make smart choices.

You don’t have to just use your own containers in the bulk aisle. I use them for the olive bar, coffee bins, produce and shampoo department as well.

Do you have tips for the bulk shopping? Share them in the comments section.