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The Zero-Waste Shopper’s Kit: What to Bring to the Grocery Store to Buy in Bulk

Peg and Awl Bake House Market Bags

If you have access to a grocery store with a bulk section, we highly recommend that you take advantage of it. Bulk shopping comes with a ton of benefits—it’s easier on the environment, reduces food waste by encouraging you to buy only what you need, and saves you money. Win, win, win.

To make the most of your bulk shopping experience, there are a few items you should invest in (or scavenge from your house) before you head out to the store. We like the idea of assembling a bulk shopping “kit” and storing it in the same place (your car, perhaps?) for easy access. Here’s what we would put in ours:

For grains:

Bulk Shopper Kit Linen Reusable Bags
Above: For dried goods like nuts, seeds, and grains, you’ll need fabric bags of some sort. We like the colored drawstring ties and multipurpose appeal of the Rough Linen Produce Bags; $40 for a set of three.

For produce:

Bulk Shopper Kit Produce Net Bags
Above: Replace the plastic bags in the produce section with a breathable net bag for transporting your fruits and veggies home. A medium-sized Net Produce Sack is $5.25 from Package Free Shop.

For bread:

bulk shopper kit baguette bag
Above: A bag in any breathable material will do for fresh bread from the bakery, but we especially like Dans Le Sac‘s Baguette Bag for an extra-long loaf; $17.

For nut butters:

bulk shopper kit le parfait jar
Above: For things like nut butters or even soap chips, a glass jar is our vessel of choice. You’ll have to “tare” your jar (find out how much it weighs) before you fill it or top it off, and label the jar with that weight either at home or at the grocery store’s customer service counter. Glass Terrines from Le Parfait range from $5.49 to $9.99, depending on size, at The Container Store.

For liquids:

Ikea Korken Bottle with Stopper
Above: For liquids (like soap, shampoo, or laundry detergent), we like a bottle with a tapered neck that makes for easy pouring. Ikea’s Korken Bottle With Stopper is $2.99.

For spices:

Bulk Shopper Kit Spice Jars
Above: You could portion bulk spices into small bags (like the linen ones above), but we also like using petite jars for this purpose. A 3-ounce Glass Spice Bottle is $1.99 at The Container Store.

For meat:

bulk shopper kit pyrex glass containers
Above: You can avoid getting your meat wrapped in paper by bringing your own glass container to the meat counter. These work well for other staples too (think prepared foods, antipasto bar, or salad buffet). A 3-cup Rectangular Storage Dish is $11.99 from Pyrex.

For your haul:

Bulk Shopper Kit Reusable Bags
Above: You can’t forget about something to carry everything home in. A canvas tote (or two) works well, but we’re particularly enamored with the familiar charm of reusable totes that look like paper bags. Peg & Awl’s Bake House: No. 7 Market is $30.

More zero-waste living inspiration:

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