Create a Low-Waste Pantry with Bulk Food Shopping

I'm sure you've seen photos of these gorgeous zero-waste pantries floating around Pinterest and you've been both inspired but overwhelmed at the same time.

Where do you even start in creating your own? How do you shop package-free? Do you need to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a set of sleek matching jars?

In this post I will show you that it's actually so much easier and less expensive than you may think.

1. The Benefits

There are several benefits to creating a low-waste pantry and bulk food shopping:

  • Cut back on packaging and waste.
  • Save money because you're not paying for food packaging.
  • Easy to see how much you have left of each item when stored in clear jars.
  • Feel good about contributing to something bigger than yourself.

2. Start Slow

You don't have to start all at once. Begin by taking inventory of the items in your pantry by creating a list. As you run out of items note them on your list.

3. Use What You Have

Next begin saving jars and containers that you're used to tossing in the recycling (jars from pasta sauce, almond butter, olives, yogurt containers, etc). These will be perfect for bringing bulk food shopping and storing. Wash them out thoroughly. If the jar has a label, you can soak it in warm water to help the label peel away and then use lemon essential oil to remove the sticky residue.

4. Go Shopping

Now you're ready for a trip to the bulk food store! Bulk Barn has several locations across Canada and a large selection of food and pantry items. We're also seeing more boutique-style bulk food stores pop up, such as The Tare Shop and several grocery stores have small bulk foods sections.

5. Bring Your Reusables

You'll want to bring a reusable grocery bag (or two) filled with your selection of clean and empty jars, containers and /or bulk bags. For jars and containers, my advice is to bring ones that have wide openings because the bulk scoops are often large. I love yogurt containers because they are a good size, lightweight for carrying and have wide openings.

6. Weigh Your Containers

When you arrive at the bulk food store, bring your containers to the cashier and have them weigh or "tare" your container. This is for when you checkout, they will deduct the weight of your container from the weight of the food you're purchasing, so you're not paying extra. At my Bulk Barn they write the tare weight on the lid with a pencil crayon so as long as I don't scrub it off, it stays on and I don't need to weigh my containers every time I go.

7. Fill Up

Now the fun part: go and fill your containers! You can put as little or as much as you like in each one, just remember that you're charged by weight. Each item will be labelled with the price per pound/grams.

8. Add To Your List

While you're there, make a list of items that you didn't even realize were available at the bulk food store so you're even more prepared as you continue to run out of things.

Some of my favourite things to grab from the bulk food store are: all baking supplies, collagen, protein powder, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, pretzels, nut butters, dried pasta, loose tea and granola to name a few - there are so many options.

9. Save Money

Bonus: because you're not paying for the food packaging, you usually end up saving a lot of money this way. If you're curious, save your receipt and do some price comparisons.

10. Organize

When you get home, store your items in the containers you brought or transfer them to glass jars. If you're feeling really keen, you can also label your jars with a label maker or a paint marker.

That's it! Although your first time bulk food shopping may feel a little foreign, it will quickly become a habit. You'll feel so good about forgoing the food packaging waste, saving money and creating a beautiful pantry that you'll want to keep going.

Are you going to give bulk food shopping a go? Let me know how you make out! I think you'll love it like I do.

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