The Ultimate Guide to

Bulk Food Stores

Bulk food stores sell goods in large quantities, but more significantly, they eliminate the plastic packaging that usually accompanies them. Even more, they let customers bring in their own reusable containers from home, which reduces waste. 

reasons for choosing bulk food stores

The obvious reason is reduced cost. These stores usually have lower overhead, and they pass those savings on to you. Not only that, but because they eliminate packaging, this further reduces cost. 

preparing for a visit

There are 3 things you need to remember when you prepare to shop at a bulk food store:

1. Containers 2. Tare 3. PLU Numbers


- Mason jars - Cloth bags - Stainless steel tins - Glass snapware - Recycled pillow cases - Reusable produce bags


Weigh your containers. This weight is called the "tare." You need to notate it on your container so that it can be subtracted from the food weight. 

PLU numbers

You'll also need to notate the PLU number or the number associated with the product you're buying in bulk.  You can do this with a wax pen, glass writing pen, or take a picture with your phone. 


Do bulk food stores offer perishables?  Many stores have sections with package free options in the refrigerated sections like tofu or yogurt and milk that are often sold using a deposit system. 

Which bulk food store offers the best prices?  It really depends on what’s available in your area. I’d check around a few different, and don’t forget to check out smaller, independent grocery stores that cater to other cultures.