I think I must live under a rock sometimes. Seriously, as much as I enjoy variety, change, being spontaneous, the latest & greatest -you name it… I am always – ALWAYS – the last to person to be “in the know”. It seems that I always have to figure things out for myself and when left to my own devices, I typically learn things the hard way, through trial and much error. This was one of those times and I’m sharing with you, so you don’t have to be like me.
I tend to be frugal for many reasons, it’s how I was raised and how my parents were raised; out of necessity. I have 4 children, pay Catholic school tuition and am currently a stay-at-home mom. Everyone has expenses whatever they may be, wants to stretch their money and would like to pay less for the necessities, including food. Locally, there is a grocery store called Raley’s (also known as Nob Hill Foods and Bel-Air). It’s a typical grocery store & could be classified on the higher end of the typical grocery store spectrum without being a “high-end” store. Which means, without shopping sales/using coupons, it can be expensive. However, lately, I’ve been doing the bulk (no pun intended) of my shopping there and saving A LOT of money with coupons. For more information about Raley’s, many other stores, weekly deals, and using coupons I recommend The Frugal Find. (click on the name of the store for details).
I digressed a bit… (I LOVE details – right, honey?) Anyway, as I’ve been doing more whole food baking & cooking, I ventured into the organic section of the store. I know $$$, or so I thought. I discovered or rather, re-discovered the bulk section. You should still compare prices of bulk vs. pre-packaged. However, buying in bulk can & will save you money (and save the environment with less packaging). Also, when you purchase in bulk, you buy only what you need; as little or as much as you want.
Now that my eyes and ears have been re-opened to BULK buying… I heard that a store called WinCo had a huge bulk section. Winco opened a few years ago in a nearby town – btw, WinCo (Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, and Oregon – clever, huh? actually it stands for Winning Compnay and has stores in Utah, too…). I don’t, actually hadn’t, shopped there because it’s about 12 miles/20-25 minutes from my house (while other stores are less than 5 miles & about 5 minutes away). I stopped by this weekend to check out the bulk section, I was on my way home from a little trek to purchase a cotton candy machine – thanks, honey! – I was actually shopping for red, white & blue candy for a party that I’m planning.
This is what I found – aside from bulk candy (yum, but SO not necessary), I discovered many practical bulk items like the following: whole wheat pastas, flours, rice, grains, seasoning & spices, and whole wheat everything – great for people with home grinders who make their own flours < you know who you are 😉 >, baking ingredients, and 2 really cool machines where you can make your own almond & peanut butter in store; Raley’s has a peanut butter machine, too; Peanut butter cookie post coming soon on Baking 4 Six). According to the WinCo website, there are over 600 bins of bulk items. FYI: Maybe you don’t have a WinCo, but my guess would be that there is a store in your area that sells bulk… don’t be shy, ask around. And, when you find out, share the information. Btw, I did a swagbucks search and came up with a lot of stores all over the U.S. and other countries that sell in “bulk”.
My favorite finds ~ Dutch Process Cocoa (yes, I said DUTCH PROCESS cocoa for a little over $3 a pound – not only can this be difficult to find, but I paid about $10 for 8.8oz at Christmas time- gasp, head slap & *sigh) Amongst other recipes, perfect for Iced Mochas.
Instant Yeast at a little over $3 a pound.
…and 3 types of “local” honey. The boxes which you pull the lever & the honey oozes out, actually house live bees, living inside, making honey because, they are each labeled with a sign that reads, “Please do not lift the lid, as the bees will escape.” (Next time I go back, I’ll take a photo and add it to this post.) I purchased “blackberry” honey. Mmmmm…. you know what I’m thinking? Blackberry Honey Lemonade.
I hope I’m not supporting cruelty to bees?? I have no idea. Do they let ever let the bees out or what?? I might have to ask someone. Meanwhile, I would be interested in comments on this (and I’m kinda tempted to hold one of my kids up and let them peek – I won’t, but I am tempted… maybe, an employee will let me peak inside.)
Update: I recently headed back to Winco to purchase some more bulk items (not candy). My favorite find was the CAKE FLOUR at around 50 cents a pound. Also, I discovered that they sell many different sized containers/buckets for storing the bulk items. The are sell different lid choices (I think I saw 3)…including gamma seal lids for about $5.