Freezing and Storing Bulk Bin Items

Ever since I discovered the “bulk bin” section at grocery stores, I’ve been in love and visiting them frequently.  Most grocery stores have them and the variety of items varies per store but typically you can find some high quality products.

I try to purchase most things from the bulk bin. Things that I always get are:

  • Variety of raw nuts
  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Oats
  • Spelt Flour
  • Buckwheat Flour
  • Wheatberries
  • Speltberries
  • Dried beans

And then whatever random items I want to try out.  My local Whole Foods has an amazing bulk bin section featuring lots of things like unsweetened coconut, goji berries, raw cocao nibs and other awesome things.

Bulk Bins can be extremely beneficial whether you’re buying a lot of something or just a small amount to try out.  I’ve learned a few things along the way regarding bulk bin items.

Always Write Down The Product Number:

In the bulk bin section, you’ll find a box of twisty-ties that are made from paper and are wide enough to write on.  Each item is assigned a product number, usually four numbers in length.  Think of it like an ISBN number or that little number on produce that you buy.  Those four numbers are like its ID card. The cashier needs to know what those are in order to be able to charge you properly for the item.  Save time at the checkout and make sure you have those numbers written down.

Speaking with a few cashiers, they’ve told me that most people don’t write down the product number and then checkout doesn’t run as smoothly as it should.  Take that extra moment to make sure you write that down.

Label The Containers For Your Bulk Items:

You want to remember what you just purchased and if it’s something not easily recognizable (a lot of flours and grains can look alike), we can easily forget what it is.  Put the items in a container or bag that can be labeled with what the item is and the date you purchased it. This makes storing and organizing really easy.

Freeze Your Bulk Items:

YES! Once you have the items in a storage container and properly labeled, put them in the freezer and don’t use them for at least 48 hours.

The reason being is that bulk items can be hard to manage. Plus as a consumer we can’t be positive on what the turnover rate is for that particular item.  Or perhaps someone left the container open for a period of time.  We just don’t know and therefore can run the risk of some not so desirable items being in the food.

By freezing the product for at least 48 hours you’re going to kill anything undesirable and/or stop any processes from forming or completing its phase.

I’m not saying bulk items are unclean or unsafe.  What I’m saying is since these items are not sealed up in packages, we need to take that extra step to make sure we get a clean and pure product.  It’s up to us to be responsible with the items we purchase and choose to use.

Does your grocery store have a bulk bin section? What are some of your favorite things to get from the bulk bin?

10 thoughts on “Freezing and Storing Bulk Bin Items

  1. Heidi says:

    Great tips! I don’t often buy stuff from the bulk section, but these are great things to keep in mind. It never would have occurred to me to put the bulk items in the freezer to kill anything that shouldn’t be there. Thanks for the post!

  2. The only stores here in NJ that have bulk bins are Whole Foods and health food stores. Our regular supermarkets don’t have them, at least none that I know of here in Morris County. I’m beginning to think that all other parts of the country have better supermarkets then we do…….boo hoo!

    • Evelyn, Hi and welcome! Whole Foods has the best and then a local Kroger has the second best. My other locals stores do not have bulk bins and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s too much maintenance?

  3. Good tips for everyone – I hate when people bring bulk items up to my til and haven’t written down the number. Especially things like almonds, because we have so many different kinds (roasted, unroasted, salted, unsalted, tamari, organic, non-organic, etc), and half the time the customer doesn’t even know which ones they bought. That being said, I find the majority of people do in fact write down the numbers.

    And I’m horrible for buying bulk items, storing them, then going back later on and having no idea what each of them were. Oops!

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