If you usually shop at a supermarket, adding bulk food shopping onto your to-do list might not be something you want to do. But it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems.
I keep it simple by doing a bulk shop once a month – partly motivated by the fact that my local shop offers a 20 percent discount on the second Saturday of each month!
The trick to bulk shopping is to get organized. You need a large collection of containers (jars or cloth bags) and a shopping list.
Before shopping I check the cupboard against my master shopping list which is divided into bulk shop, farmers market, and supermarket items. I use the following list for my bulk shop:
- Spices: cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika, turmeric
- Grains and legumes: oats, brown rice, red and puy lentils, chickpeas, black bean, buckwheat, quinoa
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, linseeds, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
- Dried fruit: apricots, tomatoes
- Other: Cacao, peanut butter, honey, popcorn, almond oil, tamari
- Soap: castile, shampoo, conditioner.
Obviously what you buy will depend on your food tastes and what is available at your bulk shop.
If you want to avoid frequent shops have backups. In our home we always have backups of peanut butter. My husband eats a lot of peanut butter and not having peanut butter is non negotiable! Each month I refill three jars, giving me two backup jars which I store in the fridge.
Where to find bulk food shops
In the last few years bulk shops have sprung up all over the world especially in Australia, Europe and the US. I shop at an individually owed bulk shop but there are many chain stores. In Australia they include: Naked, The Source and Scoop .
A cheaper option can be a university coop where for a bit of volunteer work you get reduced prices.
Other sources of bulk food are Asian food stores which sell rice, lentils and spices in bulk, while some markets sell nuts in bulk. Even the main supermarkets are jumping on board with Coles and Woolworths now selling nuts and snacks in bulk bins.
Be sure to shop around because prices vary enormously. While some items are cheaper than at the supermarket others more expensive, although this is usually because the items are organic and the supermarket equivalents are not.
I have found chia seeds and pesticide free almonds are cheaper at my bulk store while I buy flour and sugar in paper packaging from the supermarket because they are very expensive to buy in bulk. Other foods like peanut butter are the same price but I buy in bulk to save on glass jars and because bulk store peanut butter has no additives.
Have you got any tips for bulk food shopping?