A guide to buying bulk foods for your family, to save resources & money

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1. Collect reusable glass containers for storing food

It’s worth the investment to purchase some sturdy, glass containers for storing your bulk food items since you probably don’t want to store your food in plastic bags for months. You can also use empty canning jars for an affordable option, or simply save and wash the glass jars you buy that contain food products such as applesauce. Storing food in glass containers also keeps it fresher for a longer period of time.

If you bring in your own bulk bags or containers, most stores will weigh the containers themselves and then deduct that weight from the final weight of the food product you’re purchasing. There are also many products available now designed for temporarily storing or carrying bulk items. If you happen to forget your containers or choose not to bring them to the store, just use the plastic bag at the store and then fill your reusable containers when you get home. We recycle any plastic bags that come into our house or repurpose them to hold perishables from the farmer’s market.

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2. Pick and Choose Your Bulk Goods

Take stock of what your family often buys and eats. Some foods like pasta or grains can be kept for long periods of time (even years), so buying in bulk is cost-effective. Also, keep in mind the changing tastes of your kids. As any parent can attest, especially when it comes to toddlers, today’s favorite food may be on tomorrow’s “no way” list, so try to buy foods that multiple family members will eat on a regular basis. Also make sure you are not sacrificing quality for price. Some brands may be cheaper because they have fewer quality ingredients in them. Take a moment to read the labels and ingredients.

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Image © flickr user ell brown

3. Don’t Go Overboard

Buying in bulk is definitely cost effective (You’ll be amazed if you compare organic brown rice by the pound in the bulk section with its prepackaged counterpart!), but choose the amounts carefully. Some products like flours or nuts spoil within months, so be careful not to buy more than you can consume in that time period of time. Wasting food is never good for your wallet or the planet! If you are trying out a new-to-your-family grain or prepared bulk item such as granola, try a smaller amount at first before buying three pounds of it.

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