Here’s a tip to reduce packaging and its resulting waste: visit the bulk section of grocery and other stores. Unlike warehouse-style shopping, bulk allows for exact portions so you buy only the amount you NEED, which reduces cupboard clutter and lessens the risk of things spoiling or becoming stale before being used up, such as spices.
Follow these tips to improve your bulk section shopping skills:
1. Match the style of clean containers and reusable bags you bring with you to the items on your shopping list. Carry them in a reusable shopping bag. (Some stores will not allow customers to use outside containers, so check with the store manager first.)
2. If you bring in containers and bags, you’ll need to weigh them in advance (to find and record the “tare” weight). The exact weight to the ounce will be subtracted at checkout so you pay for the food, not the weight of the container. Ask customer service how and where to weigh your containers and how to record the tare weight. They might allow you to write the tare weight on the jar or bag with a marker or record the weight in a note on your phone.
3. Fill your containers with food and other bulk items and record the PLU (price look-up) code for each item. The PLU is a code that identifies the item and its price for check-out. Avoid wasting store-provided tags by recording PLUs on your own scratch paper or in your phone or by taking a photo of the number to show the cashier at checkout.
For more tips on buying in bulk, check out this post from NC State University.
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