Bulk Ingredients {Frugal, Fresh & Good for the Environment}

Bulk Ingredients {Frugal, Fresh & Good for the Environment}

I think I must live under a rock sometimes. Seriously, as much as I enjoy variety, change, being spontaneous, the latest & greatest… seems like I am always – ALWAYS – the last to person to know. It seems that I always have to figure things out for myself and when left to my own devices, I typically learn things the hard way, through trial and much error. This was one of those times and I’m sharing with you, so don’t be like me.

I’m frugal for many reasons, it’s how my parents raised me and how their parents raised them. I have 4 children, pay tuition and am a stay-at-home mom. Everyone has expenses and who doesn’t want to pay less for necessities, including food.

As I’ve been doing more whole food baking & cooking, I ventured into the organic section of the store. I know $$$, or so I thought. I discovered or rather, re-discovered the bulk section. You should still compare prices of bulk vs. pre-packaged. However, for most items, buying in bulk will save you money (and save the environment with less packaging). Also, when you buy in bulk, you buy only what you need; as little or as much as you want.

Since I’ve bought in BULK when possible, I recently learned that WinCo has a huge bulk section. I also learned that WinCo stands for (Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, and Oregon – clever, huh? actually it stands for Winning Compnay and has stores in Utah, too…). Until recently, I didn’t shop there because it’s about 25 minutes from my house while other stores are less than 5 miles & about 5 minutes away. This weekend, I stopped by Winco because I was shopping for red, white & blue candy for a patriotic themed party I was planning. Winco was on my home from cotton candy machine purchasing adventure – thanks, honey!

The picture in this post if from the Winco website and shows a small part of their bulk area. Aside from bulk candy (yum, but SO not necessary), I discovered many practical bulk items like the following:

  • flours,
  • rice
  • grains
  • seasoning & spices
  • whole wheat pastas
  • actually…. pretty much whole wheat everything – great for people with home grinders who make their own flours
  •  baking ingredients, and
  • 2 really cool machines where you can make your own almond & peanut butter in store*

According to the WinCo website, there are over 600 bins of bulk itemsFYI: Even if you don’t have a WinCo nearby, but my guess would be that there is a store in your area that sells bulk… just google bulk foods. Update: there is a now a website (and an app) that you can search specifically for stores that sell bulk where you live. It’s called Zero Waste Home

My favorite finds ~ Dutch Process Cocoa for a little over $3 a pound – not only can this be difficult to find, but I paid about $10 for 8.8oz at Christmas time, perfect for Iced Mochas.

Instant Yeast at a little over $3 a pound (Pan di Mie)

…and 3 types of “local” honey. The boxes which you pull the lever & the honey oozes out, actually house live bees, living inside, making honey because, they are each labeled with a sign that reads, “Please do not lift the lid, as the bees will escape.” (Next time I  go back, I’ll try to remember to take a photo and add it to this post.) I purchased “blackberry” honey. Mmmmm…. you know what I’m thinking? Blackberry Honey Lemonade.

I hope I’m not supporting cruelty to bees?? I have no idea. Do they ever let the bees out or what?? I might have to ask someone. Meanwhile, I would be interested in comments on this (and I’m kinda tempted to hold one of my kids up and let them peek – I won’t, but it’s tempting… maybe, an employee will let me peak inside.)

note: I recently headed back to Winco to buy some more bulk items (not candy). My favorite find was the CAKE FLOUR at around 50 cents a pound. Also, I discovered that they sell many different sized containers/buckets for storing the bulk items. They also sell different lid choices (I saw 3)…including gamma seal lids for $5.

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