A Little Look Into Groceries, Continued

June 11th, 2009 - filed under: The Food » Food and Health



After writing about my grocery shopping process, I wanted to include a little visual addendum.  A lot of people are unfamiliar with buying in bulk, and it can be intimidating if you’re unsure of the process. So to demystify it, here’s how it looks:



These are the supplies I bring on one of my marathon grocery shopping excursions.

  • Multiple canvas or re-used paper grocery bags, for bringing home the booty.
  • Re-used plastic food tubs, best for bulk liquids like oils and syrups.
  • Many many re-used plastic produce baggies, for dried goods like rice, beans, and baking flours. Also, you know, for produce.
  • Stickers and pens for careful labeling, and notepaper for calculations
  • Glass jars, because there’s never enough containers . . .



And this is what it looks like when I get it all home – you can see why labeling is so important! Now, I could just stop there, throw the dried goods in the cupboard and the perishables in the fridge, and call it a day. But of course, I’m much too meticulous for that sort of haphazard attitude! 



In my kitchen, everything has a home. I use retro glass canisters to store my flours, beans, and pastas, displayed on my kitchen counter (back and second row). The rest are stashed away out of sight. I use old apple sauce jars (they’re perfect!) for all my fruits, seeds, and nuts; of course they have to match because I’m crazy like that, and it also helps them to stack easily. The rest are random jars for random stuff, like the bran that lives in the fridge and the Nooch that hangs on the seasoning shelf. I saved a bunch of syrup bottles from my last Master Cleanse (far left) and they’re great for holding tamari, agave, molasses, etc. Sometimes I keep the original jug and just keep refilling it, like the big brown rice bin (on the right with the green lid) and the olive oil, canola oil, and castile soap bottles (back row left), all of which I now buy in bulk. Organization is key, at least for me.



And just for posterity’s sake, this is what my whole haul looked like. That’s about $160 worth of groceries, and quite a few big-ticket items like nuts, fancy oils and vinegar, those amazing local Thai curry pastes that go for $5 a pop, etc. But, working in tandem with my produce method, this will last us quite a few months. All things considered, it’s incredibly thrifty. But most importantly, eating like this – whole foods, real foods, made-from-scratch plant-based meals – is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself. And SO YUM!


  • http://homegrowntexan.blogspot.com Homegrown Texan

    I love using old jars. Many of mine are mismatched, but I do have several quart sized ones that I get local honey in (the honey guy takes them for recycling for $1 off another jar of honey, but so far I haven’t saved more than I can use).

    I’m wondering how you wash out your syrup bottles? I have similar ones (TJ’s organic syrup? ;) ), but tend to pitch them in the recycle bin because I don’t know how to wash them. Although I’m not entirely sure what I’d use them for; the only bulk liquid I have available is honey, and I don’t care for that one (prefer my honey guy at the farmer’s market). I’m so sad that my co-op closed! :(

  • Kelly

    I am THOROUGHLY impressed!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Homegrown Texan – Yup, TJ’s organic grade B! =) I just soak them in a big pot of water overnight, and then the label just falls right off. It also helps with any dried-syrup crusties that might be stuck. Then I throw it in the dishwasher – works great! If you don’t have a dishwasher, what I’ll do is fill the bottle half way with water and a little dish soap, then cover the top with my palm, and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE! It works to scrub the inside of weird shaped bottles! =D

    So sad about closing co-op!

    @ Kelly – Aw, thanks!

  • http://www.creativeanomalie.com sarah

    I seriously think you must read my mind or something. It’s amazing… due to several life changing events (at least temporarily), we are seriously restricting our budget and keeping track of every nickel and dime. I’m just now pinning down everything, and was like, ok, loose ends – i.e. food, i.e. non produce groceries. Hmmm… I should make a list for like a monthly run… boy sure would be nice to have a reference… oh yeah Sayward’s post! Ha.

    When I’m about to run out of flour, I go buy flour… at least that’s how I’ve always done it. Now I’m going to have to do it your way… and your list does help as a point of reference. I’m horrible about remembering grocery items until I need them. I totally appreciate you sharing your experiences with us – it helps those of us who are still honing our mad skills yo.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ sarah – I’m so glad you’ve found this useful! I love hearing that. And good luck with whatever is going on in your life. So many people are tightening up right now, remember that we’re all in it together! And we’ll all be okay. =)

  • http://thegreengeek.webs.com Courtney Osborne

    How do places deal with your glass jars and other stuff they normally wouldn’t provide? I really want to start buying bulk when I can and love the idea of using my own containers instead of theirs. I’m trying to reduce the amount of plastic I use and I have glass jars to use. I’m just wary of going into Whole Foods with them. I should probably just ask, shouldn’t I?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Courtney Osborne – I know plenty of people who take their glass into Whole Foods! I’m sure they’ll be quite accommodating. All you need to do is put a piece of masking tape on each jar, and bring a pen with you. Then, you just weigh each jar (or have them do it for you if the scale is behind the counter) and write the ‘empty weigh’ on the masking tape. Then you fill it up, and they’ll re-weigh it at check out and subtract the ‘empty weight’. It’s totally doable, and waaaay better than plastic. Luck!

  • Nona

    I’m still catching up on previous readings and was really impressed by your shopping method and the reusing you do. I don’t have a sewing machine but so I purchased ready-made, reusable bags for shopping. I have reusable grocery bags, produce bags, bulk bags and found reusable baggies with zippers that are great. The website Etsy has an endless supply of great handmade items and is great for gleaning ideas.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Nona – Hi, welcome to the site! I’m so glad you like what I’m doing here, and I totally agree – Etsy is AWESOME for all sorts of eco friendly supplies. It’s great that you’re making the changes.

    Hope to see you around the site!

  • Julia

    Oh!!! I love seeing other people with glass jar obsessions. I have rows of canning jars filled with nuts and oats and seeds that drive my husband slightly crazy, but I love being able to see what I have.

  • Gea

    I wish I could buy more in bulk. Cross contamination is our biggest fear. But could do this for all my foods and not my son(with many allergies)