Save money by purchasing bulk food in bins


Todd Kluger of the Bulk Is Green Council said consumers can see 10 to 65 percent in savings in they buy in bulk.

Shopper Diana Woods said she finds items such as rice, oatmeal, bulgur and dates cheaper in the bin. So does Bob Griffin, who came for quinoa.

"I can get it in bulk, and I can get it at a good price," said Griffin.

"Spices are actually a really great value. When you're buying spices, you have to buy the whole jar of it or whole jar of bay leaves when you may only need one bay leaf," said Kluger.

Pasadena's Whole Foods didn't carry bin spices, but it has plenty of variety. Kluger also said singles to big families can buy just a little or a lot.

Some of the best bin bargains are grains and legumes. Comparing bins to major store brands, we found long-grain brown rice a dollar cheaper per pound in bulk versus packaged. The lentils were 80 cents cheaper at the bin. Bulk black beans cost 99 cents per pound, compared to packaged at $2.19.

Oatmeal's a bin bargain at 69 cents per pound compared to $2.92 if you opt for a name brand. But not all foods are cheaper.

"Coffee is a decent value, but a lot of times now, packaged coffee is around the same price as bulk coffee," said Kluger.

Breakfast Blend bin coffee was $12.99 per pound, as opposed to generic packaged blend, which was $10.65 per pound.

Peanuts and trail mix, both packaged or bulk, cost about the same.

But beyond cash, bin foods can help save the planet.

"The WRAP study looked at bulk bin shopping versus package shopping and found that you had a 96 percent environmental savings of reduction of packaging," said Kluger.

When you think about the environment, you also might think about food safety. There's the issue of germs for bins where people can open up and put their hands in. You might consider only using those bins with foods that you could cook.

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