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Bulk Buying 101: Shop Smarter Than Ever with These Essential Dos and Don’ts

Bulk bins are a common fixture at food stores nationwide. Maybe you’ve been shopping the bulk bins for years, following a hunch that buying in bulk pays off in more ways than one.

Bulk Buying 101: Shop Smarter Than Ever with These Essential Dos and Donts

Guess what? You were right! Buying in bulk is better; for your food budget, for your creativity in the kitchen, and better for the planet. Read on for six essential dos and don’ts to help you make the most of your next bulk foods shopping trip.

DO Buy only as much or as little as you need

The number one benefit of buying in bulk is that you can buy exactly how much you want. You are in control of the quantity you buy, it’s not determined by the packaging. So, you can buy exactly the amount you need for a recipe.
Try buying more: Stock up on healthful staples for every day cooking.
Try buying less: Buying less of an ingredient can help stretch food dollars, cut down on waste, and keep the contents of your pantry fresher. Bonus: The freedom to buy less makes it easy to kitchen test substitutions. It’s a great way to try something without committing.

DO Stock up on airtight containers

I like to store my bulk buys in canning jars, but any airtight container will work. Regardless of which containers you choose, I would recommend ones that are easy to stack, and clear, so that you can see the ingredients.

Bulk Buying 101: Shop Smarter Than Ever with These Essential Dos and Donts

COLD & DRY STORAGE SUGGESTIONS

Dried Fruit & Dried Fruit Mixes
Shelf Life (Bulk): 12 Months
Storage Requirements: Cold (50°- 60° F)

Grains
Shelf Life (Bulk): 12 Months
Storage Requirements: Cold (50°- 60° F)

Granolas & Mueslis
Shelf Life (Bulk): 9 Months
Storage Requirements: Cold (50°- 60° F)

Nuts, Seeds & Nut Mixes
Shelf Life (Bulk): 12 Months
Except Peanuts: 6 Months
Storage Requirements: Cold (50°- 60° F)

Pastas
Shelf Life (Bulk): 15 months
Storage Requirements: Dry & Cool (Below 60° F)

Spices, Herbs & Seasonings
Shelf Life (Bulk): 12 Months
Storage Requirements: Dry & Cold (50°- 60° F)

Bean Blends
Shelf Life (Bulk): 24 months
Storage Requirements: Dry

Chocolate & Carob Candies
Shelf Life (Bulk): 12 Months
Storage Requirements: Cool (60°- 65° F)

Veggie Chips
Shelf Life (Bulk): 6 Months
Storage Requirements: Cool (60°- 65° F)

DO Bring your own containers (if allowed)

If your local store allows you to bring your own containers, invest in your own reusable bulk bags so you’re not using plastic bags over and over.

DON’T Toss the plastic bags

You may be feeling guilty using plastic bags for bulk ingredients, but buying in bulk requires less packaging than typical off the shelf products. Plus, the bags are recyclable and reusable. Five creative ways to reuse plastic produce bags; take them to the Farmer’s Market, reuse them as shoe bags, keep plated food fresh, store fresh herbs, and reuse them as doggie poop bags.

Bulk Buying 101: Shop Smarter Than Ever with These Essential Dos and Donts

DON’T Impulse Shop

Even the most frugal shopper may be tempted to impulse shop by the variety of bulk offerings, which isn’t the best tactic. Go with a plan of exactly what an how much you need so you’re not stuck with stuff you will never use. Never shop hungry!

DON’T Cross-Contaminate

When shopping in the bulk aisle but sensitive to other people’s allergies. Always use the right scoop for the right bins. People with a serious gluten intolerance may want to avoid the bulk bins altogether. Don’t assume that something is gluten-free if it is in the bulk bins. If it is store around gluten products, it can become contaminated.

Do you shop in the bulk bin aisle? My favorite place to go for bulk bin shopping is Wegmans!

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