November 15, 2010 by Leah
So, I generally operate on the assumption that buying things in bulk is a way to save money – isn’t that the whole premise of Costco? Sadly, this was not the case this week. A trip to the bulk section imperiled the integrity of our entire food budget – and we had been doing so well!
Aaron and I were frequent users of bulk sections in Alaska, when they were available in many, if not most, grocery stores and full of interesting items. When we moved to California, the grocery store options were initially dazzling, but upon closer inspection, they fell flat. In the six months since I’ve moved here, I’ve discovered two bulk sections: one at Sprouts “Farmer’s Market,” which has no organic options, although it does have spices and teas, and one at Whole Foods. The prices between the two places vary considerably, and not always in the way one might think – I’ve found quinoa to be over a dollar per pound cheaper at Whole Foods, but steel cut oats to be forty cents cheaper at Sprouts. (Yeah, so I used to manage a business. Nobody ever said unemployment was glamorous.)
Since Whole Foods is closer and has organic options, I found myself there last week, on a mission to fill up the BPA-free nut-and-dried-fruit container we keep on top of our fridge and affectionately refer to as Beatrix. The trip cost $52 ($2.50 of which was a bottle of kombucha which I’ll use to grow a new SCOBY), which was definitely NOT something I accounted for in the budget. Part of this is because I accidentally got twice as many cashews as I meant to (I blame my awesome bulk bags that aren’t see-through although my forgetfulness is probably the real problem). The larger part is that the deliciousness of walnuts and cashews is expensive. I guess I could try to buy less at a time, or I could buy “conventional” instead of organic. Maybe I should check out the pre-made trail mix type things to see if any of those would be cheaper and meet our needs. Or maybe I should just avoid the bulk section.