How to buy in a bulk food shop

You have likely not missed the array of aesthetically pleasing jar lined pantries splashed across Instagram and Pinterest!

These jar lined pantries are probably due to the rise in the zero waste movement and the greater general awareness of the need for waste reduction.

Although I cannot vouch for all of these full pantries being as a result of bulk shopping, as it’s possible that some are buying their food as normal and decanting the contents, I would like to hope that the majority are buying in bulk!

Read on to find out how to buy in a bulk food shop…

Step 1:

zero waste produce bags

Ok, so the first thing you’ll need to do is to figure out how many containers/bags you will need to bring.

Think about what items of food you plan on buying. If you are only purchasing dry pantry goods then produce bags are probably all you will need. However, if you are planning to purchase oils, nut butters and/or any other wet goods then you’ll want to bring a couple of jars or other types of reusable containers.

Another thing to consider is the amount you plan on buying. If you plan on buying a lot we would recommend using produce bags as jars take up more space, and also may break in transit.  However it is handy to fill the jars and place them straight into your pantry, with no need to decant!

If you’d like to purchase produce bags for your sustainable shopping needs, we sell produce bags in three sizes here at Fig Drop. You can find them here.

Note: Make sure that you also bring enough big bags to carry your jars or produce bags!

Step 2:

empty glass being weight on scale

Weigh your container. You can do this at home (basic digital kitchen scales are suitable) or at the bulk shop.

The form of measurement needed will depend upon the country you are buying produce in. If you are unsure of the measurements needed by the bulk shop, weighing your containers in the shop, at least the first time you visit, may be the best option.

The weight of the container is the tare weight. 

If you are using produce bags that are made from light fabric you can skip this step if you wish.

Step 3:

writing weight on jar lid

Write the weight of each container on the container itself, with paper tape or make a note on your phone.

Bulk food shops usually have tape and pens for you to do this there.

Step 4:

jars full of bulk food for How to buy in a bulk food shop blog post


Pick your items and fill your containers.

The prices on the bulk containers are usually specified by weight e.g £2.30 per 100 grams.

As it can be difficult to eyeball specific amounts, I would recommend re-weighing your containers as you go to check how much you are getting. Unless your aim is to simply fill all of your jars of course!

Step 5:

product numbers in notes

Make a note of the product number onto the container or on your phone.

Note: Smaller shops often do not have a product number, in this case make a mental or physical note of what items you have chosen.

Step 6:

full jar of quinoa being weighed on scale for How to buy in a bulk food shop blog post

The cashier will now deduct the tare weight from the total weight (the container with contents) and calculate the cost for each container taking into account the weight of the food purchased and the type of food.

Now choose how you wish to pay and complete the purchase! Voila!

How to buy in a bulk food shop

If you’d like to reduce your waste even further:

Check out our guide  – 10 simple steps to zero waste 10 simple steps to zero waste pinterest image
Browse eco-friendly & sustainable products in our shop!

Have you tried bulk shopping or have a great tip you’d love to share?

Do you have any questions about bulk shopping?

Please comment down below, we would love to hear from you!

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