With hundreds of items to choose from, our bulk department gives you the chance to buy pantry staples and try new foods while saving money and reducing wasteful packaging. We offer everything from breakfast cereal to wheatberries, and our staff is glad to help you. Our bulk spices and teas are fresh, aromatic, flavorful, and a great bargain as well. We have more than one hundred black, green, white and herbal teas in stock every day. You can download a list of our current basic bulk selections here (as a PDF file).
Buying in bulk is economical. In the bigger scheme of things, your co-op is founded in part on the advantages of bulk-buying principles; it combines member resources to buy in bulk together, from distributors, to offer access to the best food at the best prices. In fact, many food co-ops started as bulk buying clubs, with members of the club buying in bulk together and divvying up their purchases. Your storefront enables you to share in the same kind of bulk buying with even greater advantages — like great selection and no-minimum purchases.
When you shop the bulk section of your natural foods co-op, you can purchase the amount you need. Most products (herbs and spices especially) are much less expensive per ounce than their prepackaged versions; after all, you’re not paying for all that packaging and advertising! And there’s no need to pay for what you won’t use. Instead, you can choose exactly what you need, whether it’s just enough tarragon to try that new salmon recipe or enough oats to make a jumbo batch of granola — without any waste.
Speaking of waste, it takes enormous resources and energy to produce all of those cans and boxes and cartons and labels — almost all of which wind up in our landfills. Even recyclable food packaging takes energy to produce and recycle (and some of it still ends up in landfills). You’re making a significant environmental difference by buying in bulk — especially when you reuse your own containers and bags. Make the co-op your food shopping mainstay and stock up while you’re there and you’ll save fuel, too, with fewer trips for groceries.
In addition to economic and environmental advantages, buying in bulk feeds tendencies to eat more healthfully– because they offer the opportunity to expand your healthful recipe repertoire. You can try quinoa or currants, adzuki beans or pine nuts or any item that’s new to you before you commit to stocking up on it. (You’ll often find a wider selection of items in bulk than on the prepackaged shelves, too.)
Your food co-op takes steps to make sure that the bulk product you buy is fresh, too — by purchasing the freshest product possible and by rotating stock to ensure that you receive the freshest product.
All of this adds to the fun of buying in bulk, too, which is not to be underestimated! When you purchase a product in bulk, you have first-hand experience with its aroma, its color, texture and its appearance. No need to shake a box or trust the picture on a can to envision what’s inside.
Tips for Buying in Bulk
Once you’re in the bulk aisle, look to see what items you usually purchase in packages or cans that you can now purchase in bulk. Explore a bit, maybe trying one or two new items each visit! Here are just some of the kinds of products you’ll most find in the bulk aisle: dried beans, cereals, flours, grains, herbs and spices, nut butters (you may even get to grind your own), oils, sweeteners, teas and coffees (Fair Trade), flours and other baking staples, and snacks.
Linden Hills Co-op has bulk scales that will print the weight, price, and even ingredients of your bulk purchases on handy sticky labels — and both paper and plastic bags ready for you to use. If you bring your own clean container from home, just weigh the empty jar or canister, write down the weight and the PLU number from the product bin on a sticky label, and the cashier will weigh and price your purchase for you at check-out.
When filling your containers, use the scoops provided. You’ll want to take your time and not make unnecessary messes, but if you spill something, don’t panic. Ask a staff person for assistance in cleaning it up. Also ask a staff person if you’d like to order a large amount of an item (a 25-pound bag of millet or a 10 -pound block of mozzarella, for example), your co-op may be able to special-order it for you.
Most important, don’t be intimidated by the bulk foods section. It really is as fun and as shopper-friendly as it looks. For your own benefit and that of the planet, make a habit of bulk buying!
Want more information on some of the great healthy options we offer in our Bulk Department? Download these great brochures from the National Cooperative Grocers Association, filled with great tips on how to cook and store rice, beans, sweeteners, oils, grains and flours, with nutritional information, too!