Health-Food Store Bulk Bins: Worth It?

bulk ingredients

You can find practically any ingredient in bulk bins these days: grains, flours, pasta, beans, cereals, trail mixes, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, teas and coffees. Bulk bins at health-food stores and supermarkets can be a healthy eater's best resource when shopping, whether buying ingredients for dinner or grabbing a nutritious snack. Here's why these products makes sense.

• Bulk bins are typically replenished fairly often, meaning ingredients are fresh. Especially items with a high turnover. Ask the bulk bin manager to be certain.

• When you "bin shop," you can buy as much or as little as you need: a unique spice for a recipe, for example, or a trail mix you'd like to sample before committing to an entire bag.

• Because there's no packaging, bulk items are often much less expensive than those on store shelves. Less packaging also means less waste.

A few tips for shopping in bulk:

• Check out the savings first (it helps if you have a rough idea of prices at a regular supermarket). When companies don't have to pay for packaging and space on store shelves, the savings gets passed on to consumers.

• Decide how much of an item you want before filling the bag. Buy just what you need, whether it's 3 tablespoons of curry powder or 4 cups of whole wheat pasta. It's easy to get excited and over-fill.

• Keep track of bin item numbers, which will let the cashier know how to price the food. Write the bin number on the bag, a label provided by the store or the twist tie.

• To keep prices in check, use the scales provided and weigh your food before heading to the check-out.

• Take note of specials; many stores offer huge savings on bulk items every week.

• If you can, bring your own reusable containers to the store and eliminate the bags altogether.

• When you get home, store dry bulk items in airtight containers in a cool, dry place.

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

Next Up

Food Network Magazine Editors' Favorite Grocery Store Buys

Because some groceries are forever pantry staples!

11 Ice Creams Worth the Trip, According to Food Network Staffers

Here's the scoop on the best spots across the country.

Do Gut-Health Beverages Work?

From kombucha to probiotic sodas, there are plenty of products on the market that claim to benefit your gut. We asked gastrointestinal experts whether these drinks are worth sipping on.

Does Protein Impact Heart Health?

Get to the heart of eating high-protein foods.

The Best Store-Bought Ranch, Tested by Food Network Kitchen

We tasted 20 varieties to save you some time at the grocery store.

The Best Store-Bought Bagels, Tested by Food Network Kitchen

Here are the five best brands to stock up on the next time you’re in the grocery store.

The Store-Bought Jams Food Network Staffers Can’t Live Without

The list is jam-packed with delicious options.

7 Best Store-Bought Stuffings, Tested by Food Network Kitchen

Need to skip homemade this year? Go with one of these boxes.