You walk past them every time you go into the supermarket or into many specialist stores, but have you even taken advantage of the many ingredients available in bulk bins?
Buying food items from bulk bins has benefits that reach beyond just saving money. Because you’re not paying for packaging, you are creating less environmental waste; and by buying only the amount you need, there is less chance you will be left with any excess that may hang around in your cupboard for months on end. Here are our tips for buying from bulk bins.
Make sure you use the utensils provided to keep the food hygienic.
Keep an eye on prices for different types of the same thing. Roasted cashews are likely to cost more than raw cashews, which you can toast yourself in a pan.
Buy small amounts of nuts, especially walnuts, as they can go rancid quickly. It’s better to buy these fresh.
Buy only as much as you need. This is especially good for those one-off cooking ingredients you may use infrequently.
Buying bulk gives you the chance to be hands-on with organising your pantry. If you store dry goods in labelled airtight containers, you will be better able to manage the use and re-stocking of your supplies.
Being able to buy a small amount from a bulk bin may be just the inspiration needed to extend your cooking repertoire. If you like what you’ve tried, you can buy more next time. If you don’t like what you’ve tried, you won’t be stuck with unwanted food.
If you have specific nutritional needs, eg. gluten-free ingredients, bulk bins in health food stores and supermarkets often have specialty foods like gluten-free rice flour and gluten-free baking mix.
Take advantage of bulk bins to customise your cereal. Combine flakes, rice puffs, bran and dried fruit in your favourite combinations.
Try out new tastes. Grab a scoopful of pine nuts to toss into salads. Try dried apricots next time you bake muffins, or add sultanas to your next pilaf. Get creative!