Wednesday, March 03, 2010
I may not have to tell you that the bulk aisle is a great place to save money while buying organic. Taking a little extra time to scoop out your own dry goods means you buy only what you need, which can result in a lower grocery bill. If you reuse your bags, it also cuts down on packaging. Plus, there are all sorts of interesting things in the bulk aisle that you may have never thought to try before, from different kinds of beans and grains to a wide range of dried fruits to vegan gummy bears — and again, because you get to choose how much you buy, you can test run a serving or two instead of immediately committing to an entire box of something you might not like.
I love the bulk section for spices. Don't let the price on the container scare you. It might say $12.45/pound of whole peppercorns, but are you planning on buying an entire pound? This past weekend, I bought "0.11 lb" (according to my receipt) of organic peppercorns for $1.37, which filled up my pepper grinder with more to spare. If bought prepackaged in a jar, 2.65 ounces can cost as much as $14. My favorite spice to buy in bulk is whole nutmeg — which gives you better flavor when you grate it yourself, rather than using already-ground. Two organic nutmeg seeds, at $17.99/pound, cost me a grand total of eighteen cents.
Buying in bulk means you need to have places to store all these goodies. Leaving them in their plastic bags is an option, if you plan to use up the contents quickly. I would recommend getting some plastic, glass, or ceramic containers, which will last longer, keep your foods fresher (and sealed away from pests), and free up the plastic bags to be reused on your next shopping trip. Buying containers can be a little costly, depending on where you buy them and what they're made of, but it's an up-front investment that will serve to benefit you and your wallet over time. Alternatively, you can also reuse jars from spaghetti sauce (if you're not making your own yet!) or mayonnaise, although they won't be big enough to hold items you'll want to have large amounts of, like flour or sugar.
But you don't have to take my word for it:
• Buying from the Bulk Bin Saves More Than Just Money, from Eat.Drink.Better.
• Save Some Money in the Bulk Aisle, from Let's Be Green Together
• Bulk Food: A Simple Way to Save, from The Co-op Food Store