rethinking: buying in bulk

Whenever I return home from a trip to the grocery store, be it Costco or Nugget, I always try and sort and store what I’ve bought before it gets tucked away. Oatmeal gets emptied into its container, along with rice and flour and such. I’m always amazed by the pile of packaging that amasses in our kitchen’s recycling bin after I’m done… and while I know things have to be packaged to get them to my store… it’s still a frustrating process to see what’s being wasted.

I have to admit I’ve never thought about buying in bulk, mainly because it’s not an option that’s in front of me in the stores. Then I saw my super-green-sorority-sister Janet’s blog about buying in bulk… and I became highly intrigued!


The idea of stocking up on spices in bulk… instead of buying a whole new jar, is seriously tempting. As well as all of the other items I’d rather keep in a container than their box… like pasta, oatmeal, etc.

I know that the local store, WinCo, offers lots of products in bulk, but since they’re a bit out of the way I’ve never been by to check it out. But if it’s going to save me $$ (especially now that I use more spices!), I’ll probably be there sooner than later!

So are you a bulk buyer? Any tips for the newbie?


  • Janet

    Thanks for the shoutout, Kim!

    Buying spices in bulk is especially awesome – totally cheaper, saves on packaging (of course), and you can get as much as you’d like if you only want a little to try, or don’t think you’ll use up a whole jar. I’m a geek but I had a lot of fun weighing and taring and filling my containers!

    Next time you’re in SF we should totally go to Rainbow and stock you up! They have everything – even laundry detergent, shampoo and lotion, on top of all the dried goods and oils and nut butters!

  • Micelle

    I LOVE Winco for their bulk foods. We buy spices, pasta, even flour and sugar. I love it because you can buy a little or a lot- and since spices way next to nothing..enough to get you a full jar may only cost you .25 cents. I can buy just 2 cups of cake flour if I need it, and not a whole box. It is totally out of the way for us too, but we try to make a trip there at least once/month to stock up at least on the bulk items..heck even the groceries…they are so much cheaper there. To me it worth the drive out of the way every once in a while.

  • Cathleya

    We buy most all staples in bulk — Since we live in Berkeley, we are lucky to be able to buy everything under the sun right out of bins, and it’s all fresh because everyone else is doing the same thing (hippies are good for something, you know). I remember buying treats out of the bulk bins from Raleys when I was young — yogurt covered pretzels, banana chips, dehydrated apples — often it wasn’t that fresh. But if you can find a store locally that caters to a “bin” crowd, then there’s no doubt that you’ll find HUGE savings! Janet offered great advice… Oh, spices! They are SO EXPENSIVE prepackaged! Rice, pasta, beans, irish oats… we buy all of those in bulk. But, I wouldnt worry about all that packaging you throw out… after all, if you buy from bins, you still need a plastic bag to carry it home, right?

    Yay for bulk buying!

  • violarulz

    we buy most of our food in bulk. spices are hard though because they loose their zing after 6 months to a year, so unless you put a heaping table spoon of cinnamon on your oats in the morning, it doesn’t make much sense.

    With everything, my best hint is to use the very last bit in your containers and then wash them in the hotest water you can stand and dry well before refilling. We’ve had problems (especially with bread flour for some reason) going rancid from the old at the bottom of the container contaminating the new we just refilled with.

  • Trish

    A really excellent source with *great* prices is I’ve ordered grains, beans and spices from them and the quality is excellent.