A Beginners Guide To Bulk Food Shopping

So you’ve heard about bulk food shopping but have you ever given it a go? Maybe you’ve walked inside your local zero waste shop but ended up leaving with nothing as you found it too overwhelming? Keep reading and next time you’ll be gliding in and out seamlessly with an incredible plastic free haul!

It’s all about the per kg price...but not for light produce!

Initially the most overwhelming part of bulk shopping is the pricing. Once you’ve nailed that the rest is pretty simple. Instead of a unit price, you have to look at the per weight price. Do you know how much you pay for 200g of peanuts? No us neither. Next time you do your regular weekly shop, take a look at the prices per kg rather than the price per item to get an idea of how much you pay. 

You can ignore this rule for super lightweight products. While the per kg price might make a big difference in dollars for 1kg of almonds, if you’re buying tea leaves even if the per kg price is double what you’re used to it’s likely going to be a few cents difference!

Make a list 

Check your pantry and see what you need. Going in with a list of what you need will be much less intimidating and you’ll also only buy what you need. Check your local stores website or Instagram page to get an idea of what they stock. 

Save your containers 

Once you’ve made your list, start to think about the containers you will need for each item. A great tip is to keep hold of old containers, glass jars and bottles. Think empty peanut butter jars to fill with cocoa powder, finished spice jars to refill your turmeric stock and an old detergent bottle to top up your laundry liquid.

Mark your containers 

If you have a scale at home you can weigh your containers in grams and write it on the container itself with a marker. All of the bulk food bags we sell at Seed & Sprout have the weight listed on them which takes away the hard work! If you don’t have scales at home don’t forget to weigh your containers at your store first before you start filling them, the staff will help you do this. Liquids are usually charged per ml so it’s a good idea to take a previously used container that has the ml size listed on the bottle.

Go shopping - and do it regularly 

The owners and staff at bulk food stores will have the same mindset as you. They’ll want you to shop with them so they’ll be willing to answer all of your questions and to give you a hand with your first shop. Just tell them it’s your first time and ask them to explain how everything works. Check the per kg prices, you’ll find some items may be much cheaper than your supermarket and others may be a little more. Bear in mind that these stores are often small, local, independent businesses and supporting them is great for your community as well as a step in the right direction for the planet!

Once you’ve done a few bulk food shops you’ll feel a lot more confident and you’ll start to know your way around the shop. This makes each shop that much quicker and easier - you’ll be in and out in no time before you know it! 

Common mistakes

    • Don’t forget the per kilo price - If you’re on a budget check the prices and make a decision on what you’ll buy in bulk and what you’ll get from the supermarket. Your local bulk store may only source the most delicious, organic, locally grown chocolate which understandably may be double the price you are used to paying. 
    • Don’t take all your glass jars - I’m sure you’ve seen our beautiful glass Pantry Jars and Eco Stows full of bulk food but don’t take these with you to the store. Glass jars are heavy and once filled they will be even heavier! Take along a range of our Bulk Food Bags and Mesh Produce Bags instead and transfer your food into your storage containers when you get home 
    • Don’t forget a sturdy bag - you might walk into a bulk store with a few grams of containers in your hands but if you do a big shop you're going to come out with a few kg’s so don’t forget to take a bag to put them all in!
    • Don’t assume it’s just lentils and pasta - many bulk stores are now extending their ranges to include laundry liquid refills, olive oil stations, peanut butter grinding machines and even refills on almond milk! 

So now you have no excuses! Go and explore your local bulk store and tag us in your blissful bulk buying state now you’ve got all the tips you need.