Shopping for food in bulk can be such an easy way to reduce your environmental impact. Of course, we mean those bins of unpackaged food at your local health food store (or, increasingly, even in chain grocery stores), not the supersized-cereal-box type of bulk.
When you choose to bring your own containers to fill up from the store’s large bins or canisters of unpackaged food, you can reduce the amount of packaging waste you make. It has a few other advantages, too:
You can buy just the amount you need, which is perfect for more unusual ingredients like coconut flour or wheat berries (you know, if you’re getting adventurous). Plus, bulk food is often cheaper because you’re not paying for packaging – just for food.
If this sounds like the answer to your food waste and money saving prayers, well get ready! Below we’re walking you though the process of shopping for food in bulk with stasher.
here’s how to shop the bulk aisle:
1. Find one near you.
You may already know of a store with one, but if not, check out this guide to bulk shopping in the u.s. and canada to find your nearby aisle.
2. Gather your gear.
While at home, put together a small kit of clean, empty containers. These could be stasher bags, glass jars or cotton produce bags. Compare these to your shopping list to make sure you’re bringing enough containers and that they’re the right size.
3. Tare your containers.
Once you’ve made it to the bulk aisle, you’ll need to tare each of your containers, which means writing down the amount they weigh when empty. This ensures that the cashier can subtract the original weight of the containers, so that you only pay for the weight of the food you buy, not the container. To do so, find the scale near the bulk aisle and place the containers on the scale one at a time, recording the weights. you can write the weight directly on your stasher bag with a ball point pen or dry erase marker— it wipes off easily with a damp towel. And, pssst… to save you a bit of trouble, here are the weights! The small stasher bags weigh 0.12 pounds and the medium stashers weigh 0.15 pounds (at least going by our scale).
4. Start fillin’!
Pour or scoop food into your stashers, taking care to record the PLU (price look-up) code for each different type of food. That’s the 3-6 digit number listed on the bulk bin, which will tell the cashier what’s in your container. You can write it down alongside the tare weight so you have all that info in one place. as for which food to put in what container? We like to put snacks like pretzels, nuts, dried fruit, and popcorn in stasher bags, so they’re ready to grab and go. Larger glass jars or cloth bags are perfect for things that you need to purchase in larger quantities, like oatmeal or rice.
5. check out.
That’s it, you’re done! Take your full stashers to the check-out, read off the plus and tare weights as the cashier scans each one, and pop them in your reusable shopping bag.
We would love to hear how your trip to the bulk aisle goes! Send us an email (hello[at]stasherbag[dot]com) or document your trip for us on social media and tag @stasherbag!
Thank you for reading this guest blog post from Celia at litterless.co. Celia is the co-founder of Zero Waste Chicago. She writes about everyday sustainability and simple, zero-waste living. Connect with her on instagram.