As we, consumers, are becoming more conscious about our purchasing decisions and strive to make more sustainable choices when it comes to buying new goods, such as clothes and devices, it is also crucial to be mindful of the purchases we make on a more frequent basis. While you may avoid fast fashion brands and buy mint-condition used electronics, your grocery shopping experience may nullify all your other efforts if it contributes to food waste.
As such, it might be high time to reconsider your food buying habits and implement some sustainable changes. For example, you may start planning your meals in advance – this will allow you to avoid buying ingredients on impulse, not knowing how exactly to use them, and then eventually throwing them out. And if you are already used to meal prepping, you should consider switching to buying foods in your supermarket’s bulk section.
Apart from reducing the amount of plastic packaging and allowing you to sample ingredients, buying in bulk is also a cheaper option that provides you with fresher products. Continue reading as we explain in detail how buying in bulk can help you waste less food.
Bulk Buying Misconceptions
While the bulk foods section is a staple of many health food stores, it has become increasingly popular in more traditional supermarkets as well. However, there are many misconceptions about buying in bulk.
The first one is that buying in bulk is more expensive than buying smaller quantities in packaged form. However, if you do your research and shop around, you will quickly find that there are many bulk items that are cheaper per unit than the packaged version, especially when you look at them in the context of environmental costs, such as the amount of packaging used.
Another misconception is that buying in bulk means buying large quantities of ingredients, which cannot be used up before they expire. In fact, the truth is exactly the opposite – bulk foods sections allow you to buy exactly how much you need or get just a little for a better price and with limited packaging. If you have been googling, for example, “buy nangs Melbourne” and couldn’t decide if it’s the time to experiment with making your very own, let’s say, flavored vegan whipped cream – buying in the bulk section can help you save money and purchase products that can be then used otherwise if your experiments fail.
And last but not least, it is believed that buying in bulk is only beneficial if you are a cook or a foodie. Well, while this may be true if you plan on making your own almond milk or baking your own bread, if your primary goal is to reduce food waste and save money, buying in bulk can be a great solution for you as well. Here are a few reasons why buying in bulk helps you waste less food:
It Helps You Avoid Impulse-Purchases
There is no doubt about it – the bulk foods section is big enough to make the eyes water, and so are the prices. However, it is easy to avoid impulse-buying when you shop for ingredients on purpose instead of just picking what looks good on the shelf.
This way, you will be able to plan your meals better and avoid wasting food. For example, if you know you will make some granola bars, you can buy a whole bag of rolled oats. The more planning you do in advance, the more likely you are to avoid wasting food and the less likely you are to make impulse purchases.
It Is Cheaper
When it comes to food waste, the packaging size is not the only thing that matters. It is also worth noting that buying small amounts of certain foods will cost you more than buying large quantities of them. This is because these smaller packs cost more, not just because of the packaging but also due to the high amount of marketing costs involved in trying to sell you one tiny pack instead of a full-size one. For example, the common practice of having various sizes of packaging for similar products will often result in consumers buying small packages because they seem more convenient and affordable.
However, this is a false economy when it comes to your food bill, as these small packages may turn out to be more expensive than purchasing a larger pack. If you are trying to reduce your food waste and save money, it is best to choose larger packages to get better value for your money. However, if you prefer to buy an item in smaller quantities and do not want to waste any food, this is also achievable with bulk shopping – just look at the unit price of each item and compare.
It Allows You to Sample Before Buying
If you are not sure about the quality or flavor of a certain item, you can always buy it in the bulk section in a small amount and try it out before committing to buying a whole package. For example, if you are not sure whether a specific brand of dried fruit is any good, you can buy a small bag first and see how well it holds up over time. Once you know that it is worth buying more, you can purchase the larger pack.
This way, you can try out a new product without having to buy a large quantity up-front and end up throwing it away later on if it is not your cup of tea. In addition, many products sold in bulk will help you save money – such as spices, coffee beans, and rice. And although they do not really need sampling, there are plenty of other items that are best tried before being bought by the bulk bag, including:
- raw nuts and seeds,
- dried fruit,
- nutritional yeast,
- liquids like various oils, different kinds of nut butter, soy sauce, etc.
It Gives You Better Control Over What You Buy
One of the biggest advantages of buying food in bulk is that you get to control what goes into your food – this is especially useful if you have food allergies or specific dietary needs. For example, if you are on a gluten-free diet, you can buy gluten-free flours in bulk and mix them yourself instead of purchasing pre-mixed products that may include hidden added ingredients.
If you have food allergies, this will also come in handy when purchasing seeds, nuts, and other products that are frequently cross-contaminated with allergens. In addition, buying food in bulk allows you to reduce the number of ingredients that you use unnecessarily, such as oils and sugars. This will be especially helpful if your goal is to manage your weight better.
It Helps You Reduce Plastic Packaging Waste
One of the biggest downsides to buying food in bulk is that it usually comes in a bag or container, which may not be reusable. However, some stores will provide you with a reusable container, such as a glass jar, while others will allow you to bring your own.
In addition, many grocery stores now provide a service where they refill the containers that you bring after buying them earlier. This way, you can avoid using new plastic bags and containers each time you need to restock your pantry, thus preventing waste and reducing your carbon footprint.
And there you have it – five reasons why buying food in bulk is good for your health and the environment. Of course, buying food in bulk will not work for everyone, but if you want to reduce food waste and save money, it is definitely worth trying out. In order to find out whether or not it is a good fit for you, start by planning your meals in advance and creating a grocery list. Depending on how much you are planning to cook, calculate how much of each ingredient you will need and compare prices in your local food store.
If you are buying food in bulk because you like to experiment with new recipes, consider researching and trying out new ingredients before making a larger purchase. If you plan on eating the bulk item within a week, choose a smaller package instead of buying a bag or two. And last but not least, remember that not all products are suitable for bulk buying – some of them will be better bought in smaller quantities.