The bulk section can be a great way to save money, stock up or try out products, and limit wasteful packaging. Bulk sections can range from baking ingredients and candy to conventional or organic spices, lentils, seeds, pasta, dried fruit, cereal, trail mix, freshly ground peanut and almond butter, and pure syrup and honey. Health food stores and chain stores like WinCo are renowned for their bulk sections’ wide variety and great prices.

Here’s what to keep in mind when buying in bulk:

Price Per Pound: Before purchasing, always check out price per ounce/pound to find the best deal. While a 6-ounce package of walnuts in the baking aisle may be $2.99, the bulk section may have them for $5.99 a pound, which is more than 10 cents cheaper per ounce. If you're buying three pounds, the savings would be $5.95!

Sale Cycles: Just like packaged items, bulk items go on sale and run in sale cycles. For example, I find nuts to be at the lowest prices near the holidays; oatmeal’s lowest in the winter, trail mix in the summer, and sweets around Halloween. If you can, wait until the items you want go on sale, and stock up. When keeping bulk items for a long period of time, try airtight containers or vacuum sealing and storing in a cool, dry environment to maximize shelf life.

Stock Up or Try Out: Need a lot of whole cloves or not sure about that strawberry hemp granola? The bulk bins are great places to stock up big or try out small amounts. This is a big advantage for large and small families alike. When you buy just what you need, you'll cut down on waste and save money.

Environmentally Friendly: Buying in bulk is good for the environment because there is less packaging involved on both the part of the manufacturer and the consumer. You can even help out more by bringing your own reusable bulk sacks (if your store permits). Just remember to write the bin number on the twist tie!

What are your favorite items to get in the bulk section? Let us know in the “comments” below!