Bulk Food Buying for Savings and Freshness

Who knew there was such a thing as 'National Bulk Foods Week'?  It just ended October 19th.  The idea is the brainchild of Bulk is Green Council.  The concept was to use the week as a way to highlight the value of purchasing some grocery items without the packaging, from bulk bins.

The Bulk Is Green Council points out that with less packaging we're filling up fewer landfills.  If you purchase the quantities you need, instead of big boxes of food you're also less likely to have food go bad, and consequently go to waste!

I visited the Healthy Home Market on South Boulevard.  They've been selling food in bulk for over three decades.  For years you knew the store as the Home Economist, but four years ago they went through a name change, but Holli Adams says the concept and values you find at the store haven't changed.  "It's a  big savings because it's a bulk product. You're not paying for the packaging and the marketing and the colors and pizzazz of a box," Adams told me.

There's no pizzazz on the rows and rows of bulk food items at the Healthy Home Market. And shoppers are buying only what they need, so they're spending less.  When I asked one shopper why she shops bulk, she lifted her bag of short grain brown rice and said, "It's cheaper!"

Adams took me for a stroll through rows and rows of bulk spices.  She made a very good point about the value of shopping for spices in bulk.  "Chances are you're not going to use them for a long time and then they might go stale!  So it feels like you only get 20 percent of what you spent if you buy large containers of spices versus a bulk approach."

Shopper Wanda Jones loves the control she has shopping bulk.  "I'm snacking on these little nuts so this is better for me than getting a whole big bag so I can minimize my portion control," she said.

A mother with five teens said she likes shopping bulk for both the value and the freshness.  "When it comes to the nourishment for my children it is the freshness aspect of it, with packaged goods you're not quite sure how long it's been on the shelf."

Bulk shopping isn't the same as when our great-grandmothers were shopping from bins at the town store.  Bins are more sophisticated and smaller so items stay fresher and the turnover of the products is faster.  Bulk isn't just flour, rice and nuts.  I met a shopper who comes for the cookies!  "They're cheap I can get a lot of cookies for less than a dollar," he told me.

So the next time you pass through a store with bulk bins, make a stop and see what you find.  Might be better on your budget to shop the bins!

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