I love the Whole Foods Market bulk isle! I love that I can buy as little or as much as I want of a product.
Keep in mind, not all bulk isles are created equal; there are some differences in products offered.
I recently visited the Whole Foods in Dedham, MA, the state of the art, environmentally-friendly, huge, Northeast flagship store and was thrilled to find bulk local honey, local maple syrup, and agave nectar. The agave was on sale, and I have never tried it, so I bought a container. (PS. I really like it!) Not all stores carry these items, and I’m on the look out! I will definitely buy all three if I can find them!
Some stores offer bulk spices, which I also really appreciate. I buy most of my spices at Penzey’s Spices, but it’s nice to know I can buy a tiny bit of a spice that I don’t use that often (like cream of tartar) or maybe a small amount of an unfamiliar spice like a curry powder. The good news is, unsanitary spice containers of the past are gone; they now offer easy pour spouts which keep out germs and keep in freshness.
I also love buying dried beans in the bulk isle. They must be really fresh, because they take no time at all to cook! I still soak the beans for a few hours, but once I start cooking, they are done in a snap! Almost as fast as the fresh cranberry beans I received in my CSA share last summer. I have been buying navy beans and black beans, along with dried garbanzo (chick peas), as well as lentils and split peas. It’s so convenient to buy a smaller amount, so I’ll always have fresh! Plus, it gives me an opportunity to try out some interesting varieties of beans, that I might not want in a full bag.
Besides beans, I also regularly purchase brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat couscous, steel cut oats, oatmeal, oat bran, sucanat sugar, rye flour, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, filberts, raisins, dates, barley, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds.
It’s almost always cheaper to buy from the bulk isle compared to commercially bagged products. And I love that most of the items are organic!
If you haven’t considered the bulk isle at your local Whole Foods, then I suggest giving it a try. Other stores like Hannaford also offer a few bulk choices as well. But I don’t believe Hannaford is as inexpensive as Whole Foods. Perhaps because the turn-around isn’t as great.