How we save money: the bulk bin edition

Ah, the bulk bins. I once found these intimidating. Now we’re best friends. 

Here’s how it works: health food stores stock a wide variety of goods in big bins with scoops. You grab a bag, portion out what you’d like, write a number on it, then pay. Packaging is minimal (eco-friendly!) and you buy only what you need (no waste!)

I first ventured onto the bulk aisle seeking the freedom to experiment. Say you have a recipe that calls for a tiny amount of something you’ve never tasted, maybe buckwheat flour. The smallest package you can find is 1 pound. If you try the recipe and hate buckwheat flour, you’re stuck with a useless, expensive product. But if you hit up the bulk bin, you get the amount you need and you’re done. The risk is minimal. No fuss, no muss.

There’s also an argument in favor of bulk bins as a less expensive way to buy grains, nuts, etc. I ran across this article today proving the theory has its skeptics, but I’m a believer. It may not be 89% cheaper as one study claims, but it almost always saves a little something.

Why don’t I prove it? The image below shows the bulk bin items that made their way into my cart this week.

I wandered the aisles, picking up a few of the name brands. Check out the comparisons:

How about those oats! This savings makes organic doable for our family, which is a big deal to me. And the mushrooms? Wow. Half off!

For the items we buy, the bulk bins are almost always a better deal, some by a little, some by a lot. Here’s my advice: take a few minutes to comparison shop on the things you buy frequently. Saving $1.50 for every pound of oats you buy is HUGE if you eat them for breakfast daily.

Now that I’ve got you sold on the bins, what are you to do with the contents of the baggies you bring home? That’s coming tomorrow in a post I think I’ll call, “I love this jar.”

If you shop on the bulk aisle, what’s your best bargain? 


11 thoughts on “How we save money: the bulk bin edition

  1. Nice one! Love the graphic. My mom and I recently made some simple drawstring cloth bags to eliminate needing to use any packaging at all when using bulk bins. You simply ask customer service to give you a tare weight of the bag which gets subtracted from the item’s weight and then write the item code down on the bag with a washable crayon.
    Now all I need to do is talk all the stores near me out of pre-packaging all their bulk goods!

  2. Pingback: I love this jar. |

  3. I never looked at it this way before! Thanks for sharing. I will start utilizing the bulk section now and try a little instead of buying a lot (which is one reason I don’t try a lot of new stuff – I’m afraid it will go to waste).

  4. I’m totally intimidated by the bulk bins! Although I do always get distracted by the ones with different chocolate items–but I still never know what to do in the bin section, other than imagine stealing some of the chocolate. I love your idea too with using glass jars for the bulk bins. I will definitely give it a try–very Clean & Proper approved!

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