Buying from Bulk Bags

In my last post, I wrote about buying flour in paper sacks or buying it from the bulk bags available at stores in Asalah. Today, I’d like to talk about other food goods that we can purchase from these bags.

Buying from the bulk bags is a great way to reduce the amount of plastic you bring home from the supermarket.

Besides flour, here are a few of the items you can purchase from the bulk bags:

  • lentils, several variety of beans, chick peas

  • karkade

  • white rice

  • sesame seeds

  • sage

  • nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)

There’s more, of course, but these are the items that interested me the most. And all of them are typically sold in plastic packaging and some of them – like the nuts – with polystyrene or plastic trays as well. 

buying in bulk

TIP: Research what’s available in bulk from your favorite shop. Check out other shops if you can’t find what you’re looking for. Our favorite shop is 1,000 Items (Alf Sunf) in Asalah Square.

We bring either a reusable cotton bag (recently washed) or a plastic box. We usually weigh and fill the containers ourselves, but sometimes the store clerk will assist with the weighing by taring the scale (setting it to zero with the container on it). If you don’t have a bag or container to use, you can always REUSE plastic shopping bags that you already have. This is, in fact, what the clerk at 1,000 Items says he sees more people doing.

TIP: Bring your own reusable bag or container and remember to weigh it before you fill it.

Some of the goods will need to be washed and/or picked through before use. We didn’t do this with the first bag of lentils we purchased from the bulk bag – and we have learned our lesson after trying to eat a bowl of very gritty lentils! It’s not uncommon to find a few small stones mixed in (found a couple in my last batch of chick peas), but I’ve also found rocks in food packaged in plastic so it’s just good practice to pick through all dry goods before cooking.

TIP: At home, transfer the goods to a glass or other reusable container for storage.

We didn’t switch to buying these foods from the bulk bags all at once. We started with the nuts and moved on from there. It takes time to form new habits so be patient with yourself. We haven’t actually bought the rice from the bulk bags yet; it’s next on our list. But each item we can purchase without packaging means less plastic trash!

TIP: Choose the one food item that is usually packaged in plastic that you use the most and start with that one. As you – and the store clerk – become more used to this plastic-free habit, choose and add another item to purchase from the bulk bags.

Do you purchase items from the bulk bags? If so, do you have a preferred store? If not, are you willing to try? Why or why not?

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

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