Buying in Bulk
So you’ve walked by the bulk sections many times, wondering what are in all those bins but never stopping. Go ahead, give it a try—it’s worth it. Here’s how and why to shop the bulk section.
Reasons to buy bulk:
- Buy only what you need
- It can be less expensive than buying a packaged counterpart
- It’s good for the environment, less packaging
- Try a new recipe without being stuck with leftover ingredients you won’t use in the near future
- Make your own spice mixes
- It’s easy to try something new—that spice your curious about or an ancient grain you’ve never cooked
- Don’t have to worry about unused product going rancid, such as flours and nuts, which can spoil fast
- It’s fun to shop bulk
Want to try a new recipe without buying packages of all the ingredients? Worried about product going rancid? The fun thing about the bulk section is you can buy what you want in just the quantity you need. So you’re not left with 5 packages of different types of flours you don’t plan on using again in the near future. And, flours and nuts can go bad in warm temperatures, buying just what you need means you’re always using fresh ingredients. If you’re curious about a certain spice or want to make your own spice mixes, buying bulk makes it easy. Or if you’ve always wanted to try cooking with millet or dried beans, here’s your chance. The bulk section makes it easy to try new things and to stock your pantry with all the basics you need on hand. Of course, the added bonus is that you don’t have to deal with extra packaging. You can even re-use your own bags in the bulk section if you like. So what are you waiting for? Dig in!
Handy Bulk Foods
Of course, there are plenty of items to buy in bulk from cookies to pasta, to spices and grains. These items, in particular, are perfect to buy bulk to have on hand when baking up a storm strikes your fancy, or when you need spices and staples to help a meal.
If you don’t bake often, buying in bulk allows you to buy just the amounts you need, so you can avoid having ingredients go rancid. Here’s a guide to how long pantry staples last on a shelf or in the fridge. It’s best to store items in airtight containers, especially in the fridge to keep moisture out.
Spices: From cinnamon sticks to thyme and cumin. Whole spices (peppercorns, cloves or cinnamon sticks) are said to keep up to four years, we recommend changing them out every two years. Ground spices and dried leafy herbs have a shelf life of one to two years.
Dried fruit: Most dried fruits last 6 to 12 months in a pantry and from 1 to 2 years in the fridge.
Flours: Wheat and Spelt flour will keep in a pantry for 3 months and in the freezer for up to 6 months. Sorghum flour has a shorter shelf life at 2 months, and will keep for 4 months in the freezer.
Oats: Keep oats up to 4 months on a shelf or 8 months in the fridge.
Brown Rice: Whole grains like brown rice can last on a shelf for up to 6 months and up to a year in a freezer.
Quinoa and Amaranth: These ancient grains can last 4 months in your pantry and up to 8 months in your freezer.
Millet: This grain has a shelf life of 2 months and can be kept in the freezer for 4 months.
Nuts: Nuts can go rancid quickly in warm environments. The best bet is to keep them in a tightly closed container in the fridge. You can even freeze nuts, but you need to make sure they are in sealed packaging when doing so, to ensure that moisture can’t get in.
- Raw shelled almonds last 2-4 weeks in the pantry; 9 months in the refrigerator; 1 year in the freezer.
- Cashews are the same as almonds except they only keep for 6 months in the refrigerator.
- Pecans are the same as almonds except they can keep for up to 2 years in the freezer.
- Pine nuts and pistachios tend to go rancid faster than other nuts. Keep pine nuts in the fridge for 1-2 months and pistachios for up to 3 months. Both can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Dried beans and lentils: Some say dried beans and lentils can last indefinitely in the pantry. But after 2 years, they begin to lose their moisture, which means you have to soak them for longer than normal before cooking them.
For more information on how long foods keep in your pantry or fridge, we found this fun website that covers just about everything in your kitchen: