Health-Food Store Bulk Bins: Worth It?
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.
• 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.