The joyous feeling of a full pantry. It’s my happy place. Knowing that I’ve got everything I need to create nourishing meals from scratch makes me immensely, insanely happy… and bulk buying is the best way to make that feeling wash over me again, and again.
But have you ever walked into a bulk store and wondered where to start? Wall after wall of bins and containers filled with goods to make your stomach rumble…. but it can also be a minefield if you don’t know where to start. In my years of buying bulk dry goods and streamlining my pantry, I’ve got some tips that may help you, if you’re new to the world of bulk goods.
1: Keep a running inventory of what you use the most
The top of my list is lentils, chickpeas, spices, salt, buckinis, nuts and seeds, gluten free pastas and olive oil. These are the things that I order month in and month out, as I know they’re staples in my diet, and I can do so much with them.
Less ordered items are snacks, dried fruits and sweets; these are things I’ll order if I’ve got guests coming over or if hubby is away for work and needs some travelling treats.
Household items like laundry liquid, bicarb soda, and dishwashing liquid are bi monthly purchases, as we use such small amounts.
2: Choose non-perishable items (especially if you’re a newbie)
Dry goods are always best in terms of last-a-bility. Where I buy my bulk foods from, the only highly perishable items are oil, tahini, and nut butters. The rest is dry and lasts a while.
However when I’m at the market and I am buying bulk fruits and vegetables, I ensure I use, freeze and store them correctly. (Check out my handy guide to storing fruits and vegetables here)
When buying flours, nuts and seeds, I store them in the freezer and fridge respectively.
3: Choose foods (and bulk stores) that turn over quickly- this means you’ll always get the freshest items
Look for stores and dry goods that are popular. This will ensure you’re getting the best, freshest and healthiest versions of the items you love.
I personally avoid nut meals- as they can go rancid if not stored correctly. My bulk food store is climate controlled, as to avoid these problems, but if you’re buying bulk almond and nut meals from a regular grocery store, err on the side of caution. It’s so much better to buy your nuts whole and process them yourself.
4: Don’t buy something in bulk that you’ve never used or tried before!
Don’t be lured into buying 1kg of mung beans if you’ve never used them before and you’re not sure what to do with them! Likewise with any snacks you’ve not tried before. Being stuck with 150g of an item is one thing- we don’t want to head into wasteful territory now.
If your store lets you buy in small amounts- perfect! Try new things, just in smaller amounts (Like that time I bought freekah….freakin disgusting!).
5: Take your own glass containers and jars if they let you!
This will do a few things.
Firstly, it’ll mean you’ll be buying amounts that you’re used to.
Secondly, you’ll be storing things as you would normally- which will help you to make smart decisions
And thirdly, you’ll be helping keep your footprint much smaller than if you are using plastic bags and containers.
6: Double bag flour, rice and lentils (if you don’t have your own containers)
This will ensure that you don’t have any nasty spills! But to be on the safe side, take some glass jars with you.
7: Don’t be scared to try new things!
Check out some recipes that use food basics like lentils, legumes, and different spices and flours.
This’ll get you excited about cooking from scratch and using things you may have avoided in the past.
These are my favourite recipes using ingredients you can readily find in a bulk food store
Have you got any great bulk buying tips? Pop them below!
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