buying in bulk.

In an effort to be more frugal & “green” we decided to start purchasing items in bulk.
We were already purchasing things like toilet paper, vitamins, coconut water, etc in bulk; but hadn’t started buying much food in large quantities because our apartment doesn’t even have a pantry!

But now that we have started; we are making it work…. plus, the money we are saving and the less frequent shopping trips are making the process of dealing with the excess goods around our house worth it.

We received a Vacuum-Sealer for Christmas from Aaron’s parents which has granted us the ability to purchase cheese in bulk! It may not sound like much, but we go through a LOT of cheese in this household. We we going through so much pre-shredded cheese and it was costing us a small fortune ($4 and $5 per bag! and that was at Trader Joe’s!) but we couldn’t use up the [cheaper] blocks of cheese before they would start to mold. But, thanks to the Vacuum-Sealer we are now able to buy blocks of cheese without the worry of them molding before we can eat them.
The savings there is amazing. Instead of buying a few ounces of pre-shredded cheese for $4 or $5; we now purchase a 1-lb block of cheese for $7 and it lasts us a few weeks (and we were going through an entire bag, if not two, of the shredded stuff each week!)

We invested in some (okay, a LOT) of Weck canning jars which are perfect for storing bulk goods and keeping them organized (especially in small spaces). We have also started acquiring several swing-top jars and I recently purchased a case of wide-mouthed quart & pint sized Mason Jars which are also great for easy, air-tight storage.

Its amazing the money you save when you purchase things in bulk. Some examples include:

We used to purchase 1/2-lb bags of quinoa from Trader Joe’s or Whole foods for $2-3 a bag. I purchased a 5 lb bag of quinoa at Costco for not even $7.

We normally purchase oats in the cylindrical cardboard containers at Trader Joe’s or Target… which cost about $3 per container. At the bulk section of Whole Foods we purchased rolled oats for .99 cents a pound!

We went to our nearby Whole Foods the other day just to see what else we could start purchasing in bulk… and to our surprise, they just expanded the bulk section! Perfect timing for our new goal to purchase as much as possible in bulk. They also added a bulk spice section as well, which we are really excited about.

When I was going through our “pantry” and putting all of our grains, beans, nuts, rice, etc into the Weck and swing-top containers I ended up filling our empty recycle bin to the brim. Its incredible how much packaging we go through when we don’t purchase things in bulk. Another great thing about buying in bulk is reducing our waste/recycling!

So, lets summarize the perks to buying in bulk:
Less packaging, less to recycle/discard, less trips to the store meaning less frustration to find parking AND less emissions into the environment having to get there, more money in the bank, and large quantities of great food in your house at all times! 

And, as soon as I find suitable canisters; we will start purchasing our flours (whole wheat, all purpose, bread, etc) and sugars (brown, granulated, turbinado) in bulk too.
I’m just having a hard time finding canisters that meet all of our requirements:
– glass
– air tight
– big enough to fit a few (if not several) pounds of flour/sugar at a time
– has a mouth big enough for Aaron to put his hand in, in order to grab the scoop.

If you know of anything, let me know!

5 responses

  1. Great ideas, but what do you initially put everything in before you put them in your containers? Plastic bags would be wasteful but I can't think of an alternative.

  2. great question. Some stores allow you to use paper bags instead of the plastic ones; although, not all do. We try to use paper bags when we can and if we have to use the plastic bags then we re-use them and bring them with us like we do with our re-usable grocery bags. Works out pretty nicely.

  3. Tanis, I bought muslin vegetable bags at the farmers market and reusable vegetable bags from reusit.com I go to the bulk section, fill up my bag, then dump it in my glass container when i get home and throw the bag in the laundry. I even save the twist ties with the PLUmcodesmwritten on them so I,can use those again. That way there is literally,no,waste! And for the cheese….well I,buy huge blocks of ,cheese and shred them myself with the cuisinart, dump,them in freezer bags and keep the shredded cheese frozen. It last forever and you,cannot tell it was frozen!

  4. You should check out azure standard. The bulk deals on dry goods are awesome plus I am able to get everything organic! I finally switched to 5 gallon food safe buckets with gamma lids.

  5. We love bulk purchasing! And I'm with Maltagirl – Azure Standard rocks. While they have things in 50 lb bags, they also carry most of their bulk ingredients in smaller 5 lb bags too.I transferred all my pantry good to mason jars a few years ago (after a pantry moth invasion freak-out. gag.), but I had plastic container hold-outs for my flours, sugars, and oats. I hated them, but like you I wanted larger glass containers with wide mouths (that I could fit my measuring cups in) that were air-tight. I looked and looked and kept coming up empty. BUT! I recently found some at Target that fit the bill. I don't know that they are totally air tight, but the have a reasonably good seal and in all other ways are up to snuff. Plus, the come in a few sizes. I'm not totally sure that this is it – it doesn't have anything on the description about a seal, but this is at least what it looks like if you want to check it out. http://www.target.com/p/1-5-gal-Montana-Silver-Lid/-/A-10620262#?lnk=sc_qi_detailbutton

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