Why I Buy in Bulk and Why You Should Too

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Post by our blog team member, Kiran. To learn more about Kiran, check out our team page!


I remember being a kid and loving to make mixed bags of candy from the bulk bins at our grocery store. Times sure have changed for me, and desires have too, but the bulk bins have a new importance in my weekly shopping.

I love buying products in bulk. In fact, I will purposely head to our local Earth Fare or Whole Foods so that I can stock up on certain items. If you aren’t shopping from bulk bins or don’t frequent them, I encourage you to do so. And below I’ve shared my reasons why.
Benefits of Buying in Bulk on 100 Days of #RealFood

Desired Quantity

Perhaps the biggest reason why I buy in bulk is that it allows me to buy exactly how much of the item I want. How many times have you needed just a little bit of a certain ingredient, but you end up buying the whole darn package only to be left with lots of leftovers?

Take pine nuts (for making pesto) for example. You can get fresh ones and only purchase the necessary three tablespoons instead of a big bag. Or way back when, I had never tried baking with almond flour. I didn’t want to get a whole bag of it, so I bought exactly what I needed for one particular recipe. It’s a great way to avoid waste (and clutter in your pantry, for that matter).

Cost

Not far behind in my reasons why I buy in bulk is simple: it’s cheaper. I actually put this notion to the test by visiting both my local Earth Fare and Whole Foods stores. See the chart below, which illustrates it all:

Food Item

Earth Fare
Bulk Bins

Whole Foods
Bulk Bins

Packaged Goods

Rolled Oats

$1.49/lb $1.59/lb $4.29 for Bob’s Red Mill 32 oz. package
= $2.14/lb
Black Beans (dry, organic) $1.67/lb $1.99/lb $3.99 for Eden’s Organic 16 oz. package
= $3.99/lb
Almonds $11.48/lb (raw organic) $12.99/lb $6.99 for 12 oz. package
= $9.32/lb
Cashews $13.00/lb (raw organic) $10.99/lb $8.99 for 12 oz. package
= $11.99/lb
Almond Flour $6.99/lb $8.99/lb $11.99 for Bob’s Red Mill 16 oz. package
= $11.99/lb
Rice (Long grain organic) $1.99/lb $1.79/lb $4.99 for Texas Best 32 oz. package
= $2.49/lb
Quinoa $5.99/lb $6.99/lb $6.49/lb for Earthly Choice 14 oz. package
= $8.65/lb
Organic Coffee $12.99/lb $9.99 – $11.99/lb $9.99 – $11.99 for 12 oz package
= $13.32 – $15.99/lb

All of the items (except for the nuts) offered significant savings – over 20%, actually!

Reduced Waste

I admit it, I’m a jar junkie. I’m constantly cleaning out jars and reusing them. At first, I drove my husband crazy. Now he admits that it makes our pantry look so much neater and cleaner (win!). Jars are also free when they come from a packaged product (think jars of unsweetened applesauce or spaghetti sauce) – double win! Anyhow, I now purchase and store nuts, rice, dates, oats, and so much more in easy-to-see jars. Sometimes I just sit and linger at my pretties in my pantry. Okay, okay. Maybe I’m going too far with that, but I really have a slight obsession :). You don’t have to become a jar junkie like me (by the way, Lisa loves using jars for storage, too!), but know that you’re significantly reducing packaging waste by buying in bulk.

Why I Buy in Bulk and Why You Should Too (Kiran's Pantry) at 100 Days of #RealFood

Kiran’s bulk goods in her pantry.

Freshness

Even though many packaged products provide “best by” dates on them, don’t you sometimes look at bags/boxes of items and wonder just how fresh they really are? With the bulk bins, because they are constantly being refilled, we can hope that the items within are fairly fresh. If nothing else, you can see up close and personal what you are buying, unlike foods in packages. If you’ve ever shopped the bulk bins, you know that they are diligent about making sure the offerings are up to par. In fact, we talked to a staff member at Earth Fare who spends a good bit of his time at work cleaning, filling, and maintaining the bins, which makes me feel pretty good about it.

Personally speaking, I’ll refill my jars of nuts, etc. and wait until that jar is completely empty before washing the jar and refilling with fresh nuts. Also it goes back to quantity—you only buy what you need so you know those foods are fresh and the rest is not going to sit and get stale.

Remove the Middle Man

This ties together cost and reducing waste. For products to be packaged, it requires fancy packaging and higher overhead for shelf space in retail stores, and let’s not forget transportation to get it all to the stores as well (bulk can be packed tighter than packaged foods in shipping) and the marketing dollars built into the cost.

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So there you have it – those are the many reasons I’m a big fan of buying in bulk! Do you agree? Why or why not?

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108 comments to Why I Buy in Bulk and Why You Should Too

  • Lee Gilmer

    With bulk beans and other items you will be cooking, there shouldn’t be a problem with germs. Living in small towns for many years, I found the local health food store was the place to buy all my spices. Whole Foods no longer has many bulk spices and, if you replace them every 6 months, this is a good option. They move pretty fast here so freshness isn’t a problem. Not having cooking instructions isn’t much of a problem if you use the Internet.

  • Christa M

    I don’t generally buy from the bulk bins because I a) buy local where possible, and b) buy in greater quantities so it’s more cost effective. For example, I buy my whole-wheat flour in 50-lb bags from a mill that buys direct from the farmers that grow it. They are within 100 miles of me. I buy dried beans from the family that grows them in 5lb bags. I buy oats from a distributor that gets from from the farmers. i buy my brown rice in 50lb bags as well though those aren’t local.

  • Sis

    The only that bothers me about bulk is price. I’ve always tho’t bulk products were cheaper but have found that, like so many other things, once people caught on to using them more, the price went up.

    I agree with all other points. I love my jars in my pantry. :)

  • Kim

    My bulk purchases have dwindled down to almost nothing now that my son’s preschool has a strict no-nut policy. Every bulk bin has the disclaimer that the product may have touched a nut. Boo! I love bulk buying!

  • Heather

    Come to Canada! We have a chain of stores called Bulk Barn…it’s my happy place. They sell spices in bulk too so I only get enough to fill my container

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