We’ve all heard that shopping from bulk bins can eliminate a lot of unnecessary plastic and waste. And you’ve probably heard that you can save a lot of money that way too. But how much money, exactly? How will shopping in bulk actually impact your grocery budget?
I went on a mission to find out. I visited Whole Foods Market to compare the cost of rice, beans, oats, nuts, cereal, and beyond when purchased from bulk bins compared to their packaged form.
I found that many products were nearly twice as expensive (most often between .50 cents and 2 dollars more per pound) when purchased pre-packaged compared to the bulk bins.
The Most Shocking Price Differentials:
- Nutritional Yeast
- Oats (especially when compared to single-serving oatmeal containers—yikes!)
- Chia Seeds
Items That Regularly Cost Less In Bulk Bins:
Pantry Staples That Surprisingly Cost LESS Packaged (On This Shopping Trip)
- Brown Rice
- Sushi Rice
- Cane Sugar
- Peanut Butter
If you’re buying a lot of these staple whole foods at the grocery store (which you really should be doing because they are among the healthiest foods on the planet and very important for optimal wellness and nutrition), the savings can really add up over time. If you’re really savvy, you can find the best credit cards to get cash back for even more savings. Just make sure you use your credit card responsibly as debt is counterintuitive to the overall mission here.
Plus, you’ll also be helping our planet by reducing plastic waste when you bring your own reusable shopping bags! And when you get home, you can store your bulk items in glass mason jars that last a lifetime (I recommend these wide-mouth quart-sized mason jars because you can fit your hand in them so they are super-easy to clean).
The other neat thing about buying in bulk is the ability to start shopping organic without increasing your overall grocery budget. If you’re used to buying non-organic pantry staples in their packaged form and have resisted choosing organic because of the additional cost, consider shopping for organic in the bulk section and the savings you’ll see from shopping in bulk should balance out the additional cost of choosing the organic option.
If you’re hungry for more money-saving resources and recipes, check out the Plant-Based on a Budget meal plans I created with Toni Okamoto, founder of Plant Based on a Budget! Our meal plans teach you how to cook healthy home-cooked meals from whole food ingredients (like those you can buy in bulk above) and save tons of money on your weekly grocery budget. Cheers to that!