Shopping At A Bulk Food Store

In 2019, I embarked on a 100 Recipe Challenge. You can read a little more about the challenge here, but the gist of it was… I challenged myself to make one hundred new recipes from scratch. I wanted to improve my cooking and baking skills, which were very lackluster at the time. At the start of the challenge my pantry was a bit sparse; a few spices here and there, some old baking powder, and an unnecessary yet diverse selection of sprinkles. 

A few weeks into my culinary journey and several long trips to the local grocery store later, I realized the pantry really needed an overhaul. We were creating additional waste with the numerous bags of flour, plastic spice jars, etc. Also, it just wasn’t efficient for us to make weekly or even bi-weekly treks to the grocery store with an infant in the middle of a Michigan winter. Finally, I wanted the freshest and best ingredients possible and that 3-year-old baking powder definitely needed to go. 

We sought out our local bulk food store, Country Corner Bulk Foods. I had so many questions. HOW do you shop? Do they have containers? Will they think I’m weird if I walk in with a 5-gallon bucket and ask to fill it with bread flour?

How does it work when you’re bringing containers and jars from home?  

If you’re bringing containers from home, prep ahead of time. Make sure that everything is in good condition and give it a wash beforehand. Have a couple spots for labels – one for the weight of the container and one for the ingredient itself. I’ve been using old masking tape for now because that does just fine for me, but I encourage you to get creative and make things pretty for yourself! I use cardboard boxes and reusable bags to tote everything back and forth. 

When you arrive, stop by the check-out and let them know you have containers. Almost everything in the shop is going to be priced by weight so they will either want to weigh your containers ahead of time and label it themselves or point you to an area to do it yourself.

Do they have containers for sale? 

The last time I visited, my local food store did not have containers for sale. They had complimentary plastic bags of various sizes and durabilities to use. Some items are offered pre-packaged. For example, they have delicious coffee samples for sale and pre-measured amounts in little bags. It’s best to bring your own reusable containers.

What kind of containers are suitable?

Any and all containers are suitable. I often get lucky at thrift stores and find containers. It’s twice as nice bringing something pre-owned to stock up your pantry. The Talenti ice cream containers and glass baby food jars are perfect for stocking up on bulk spices.

I challenge you to find a bulk food store near you and stock up your pantry with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. You won’t regret it!

Written by Kayla

Kayla is the creator of the Homesteaders of Michigan community on Instagram. She resides in Central Michigan with her husband and son. She and her husband began homesteading in 2017 and have a passion for self-sufficiency and self-improvement. You can follow her on Instagram at @kaylaelucia.

What do these stores even have for sale?

Our store is strictly dedicated to dry food products. Some stores may have a little more, some a little less… You won’t find out until you visit your own local bulk food store!

How are the prices?

Every store varies but we were shocked at how inexpensive it was for us. We very much felt that what we paid was worth the product we were taking home.

And finally…

Will they think I’m weird if I walk in with a 5-gallon bucket and ask to fill it with bread flour?

Maybe. But should you care? No! The folks at my bulk food store laughed and assured me that it was perfectly fine to bring in a 5-gallon bucket and they would fill it up with what they had.

Shopping at this store has been beneficial for us in many ways. Driving minimum twenty minutes less in each direction saves us time and stress, we produce almost no waste by reusing our own containers, it’s cheaper, and best of all, the food we make at home is better than before.

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