Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Buy Bulk for the Health of It

Want health and value? Shop in our bulk department! Bulk bins at Whole Foods Market offer a great variety of pantry basics and staples to support your healthy-eating plan at substantial cost savings. By buying only the amounts you need, additional savings come from less waste. Plus, it’s a great way to help the environment. For value, bulk buying simply can’t be beat. And there are additional benefits to taking advantage of the variety of ingredients in bulk bins:

  • Bins are replenished often so ingredients are super fresh.
  • Because you can buy as much or as little as you need, you can experiment with new products without getting stuck with a lot of something that doesn’t suit you.
  • Many of the bulk offerings are organically grown.
  • You save money by not paying for fancy labels.
  • All bulk items are required to meet Whole Foods Market’s strict Quality Standards, so you’re still getting the highest-quality of products.

The bulk department can be a healthy eater’s best friend! The January/February issue of The Whole Deal value guide, is bulging with ways to eat healthier on a budget including the $99* Health Starts Here Pantry, which includes a list of basics to have on hand for healthier eating. A lot of these pantry basics are readily available in bulk, including:

  • Dried beans (pinto, white, black, lentils)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, pearled barley, long-grain brown rice)
  • Whole-wheat pasta (spaghetti, couscous)
  • Oats (rolled, steel-cut)
  • Organic raw nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
  • Organic dried fruit (apricots, dates, raisins)
  • Fresh-ground nut butters (peanut, almond)

In addition, the bulk department features great selections of spices and seasonings at a fraction of the cost of their bottled or packaged counterparts. When cooking with your health in mind, it’s always good to add seasonings and spices to enhance flavor without a lot of additional calories. Check out these budget-friendly recipes featuring ingredients that can be found in most bulk departments in our stores:

Ready to bulk up for healthy eating and budget savings? Tell us your favorite ideas on using bulk for health and value.

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43 comments

Comments

Rita says …

The advice that it is a great way to try grains you might not otherwise try, is terrific. I learned that buckwheat is really good. I actually like mixing half oatmeal/half buckwheat for my morning bowl of hot cereal.

Christine says …

Will WF ever consider expanding it's bulk section? I just moved to a new part of the country and WF is the only place to buy bulk out here. Sadly, compared to Sprouts, Henry's, and the even the WFs in California, the bulk selection on the East Coast is pretty sad.

Lotus Flower says …

I love shopping the bulk section! I never buy bottled/ packaged spices & seasonings anymore (except for really special things like saffron or lemongrass) because they are INSANELY cheaper from the bins! Ditto on things like brown rice, cornmeal, and beans (haven't had a stale batch yet!). Oddly though, the sugar and flour are cheaper per pound in the private label organics--- unless of course you only want one lb of sugar or flour, but I still find that odd when the bulk cornmeal is less than half the cost per lb of the packaged kind?

Stephanie Cancienne says …

nuts, trail mix, rice

Hari says …

I would like to know where your dried beans and lentils are sourced from. Are they from China?

Christine says …

Can I buy bulk items in my own containers (rather than bagging them)? If so, what is the best way to do this? I shop at other (smaller) stores that will weigh my container & label it accordingly so that the tare can be adjusted at checkout. Would this work the same way for bulk purchases at WF? I appreciate not needing to use the extra bag.

paig292 says …

@Christine Customers do bring their own containers for bulk products, but I believe there are some stores that are governed by food safety laws that affect this. It's best to check with your local store directly so they can let you know their exact process. Thanks!

Michael Robinson says …

<strong>SENT TO CUSTOMER QUESTIONS</strong> Why did the blend in Pleasant Morning Buzz Coffee change? The new formulation is not anywhere near as tasty. I am now spending a lot of money to try to find a coffee i can drink after years of 100% Arabica Pleasant Morning Buzz.

Karen says …

I like to buy raisins, steel-cut oatmeal and dates from the bulk bins. I'm going to try some other items too.

Jenn says …

Is this charged "per pound?" Can we bring our own containers to fill? If so, is the weight of the container considered?

Dave Doctor says …

After last night's Cooking with Whole Grains class, i picked up a bunch of grains from the Bulk Foods containers. This morning I made bulgur wheat in my "grain cooker," formerly known as my rice cooker.

Beena says …

I love to buy whole beans.My dollar goes much further this way.

noname says …

I can't find nutrition information on your BULK products (like the calories, fat, calcium, etc). You do have this info in the store, but it's very hard to jot it all down at the store. Wish you'd put it online.

Kathy says …

I can’t find nutrition information about your BULK products (like the calories, fat, calcium, etc). You do have this info in the store, but it’s very hard to jot it all down at the store. Wish you’d put it online. June 3rd, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Wholesale Food says …

Bulk buying contributes to your pocketbook. By not paying for all that individual packaging, labeling and advertising, you’re getting more product for your money.

Kaytee says …

Do you guys have ginger chews in the bulk deparment at the Portland store? If you do can you please let me know. If you do can you also tell me how much they are.

Megan says …

@KAYTEE Your best bet is to call or stop by the Portland store, as selection and prices vary by store and region.

A says …

I bought a bulk rice but do nor remember which one it was. Could you list the names and the product numbers on your website? I like to experiment and find that I have several different rice and pulses which are only id'ed by four digits. Thanks for your help. (the one in question is 6690!)

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@A - I was able to contact my local store to find out that the bulk product for #6690 is Organic Brown Rice. At this time, we do not have an online list of bulk codes as they can often vary between store locations. I would check with your local store if you need to know the code on other bulk items. Thanks!

Kimberly says …

Bulk oils.

Brittany says …

I was wondering if your grains (including quinoa, wheat berries, buckwheat, barley, couscous, and farro are 100% whole wheat products? Did they acquire the 100% whole wheat grain council stamp of approval? How do I look up nutrition information for the products I buy in bulk? Thanks!

anthony dee says …

Sure might be nice to find a list of the bulk foods items that certain store lications carry.

Elizabeth Borelli says …

I also like buying olive oil and balsamic vinegar in bulk at the Santa Cruz whole foods. I bring my own containers, have them weighed first so they can subtract the tare weight (of the bottle), and fill 'em up. For bulk bean cooking times and instructions, visit http://elizabethborelli.com/healthy-living-tips-and-tools/.

Grace Kim says …

Hello, Could you please tell me where your bulk quick rolled oats are sourced? Also, are they grown organically? Thank you!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@GRACE - The bulk vendors differ between stores. Contact your local store and they will be more than happy to let you know the vendor, where the oats are sourced and if they are organic.

Joshua Franklin says …

Do all stores offer bulk honey? Did Whole Foods recently change the policy on using your own containers for honey? Our local store will not allow us to bring our own glass jars now. They say we have to use their bulk containers which are plastic bottles which we DO NOT want to use.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JOSHUA - Our exact bulk options differ between stores. Not ever store offers a bulk honey option. We do not have a company policy about bringing in your own containers as this option will differ between stores as well based on the city's health code policies. Were you able to ask the store why this changed? If not, they would be the best point of contact. My guess would be that something changed in the health code policies that restricts this now.

Karen says …

I must be doing something wrong! I can't access what kind of almond butters you have and how much they cost. could you assist me?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KAREN - We don't currently have an online database of the products in our stores since our items differ. Check with your local store to see what exact nut butter options they have in stock!

dev chilson says …

I have been wondering about the heated stainless steel dispensers for olive oil and honey. I really like them. I do wonder though, how long the product sits there at warm temps and whether it affects all the wonderfulness of organic nutrition. Also, do these products come to the store in plastic vats? Is the nice stainless steel only for cosmetic presentation at the end of the chain?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DEV - Since our bulk vendors differ between stores, I would suggest checking with your local store to see what containers they receive the olive oil in.

Desi says …

I tried using my own container today, but it seems no one can figure out how to deduct the .64 pound my mason jar weighs. Help!!!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DESI - So sorry about that. Was the store not able to just include a .64 tare at checkout?

Kristin says …

The Whole Foods in my area (St. Paul MN) informed me that no one can use reusable containers in the bulk section (I brought clean reusable organic cotton bags). The manager said (via email) that it was a health code violation and that they didn't want too "charge too much for containers." (i.e., they don't do tare weights). I am confused as I thought Whole Foods was committed to reducing environmental impact of grocery shopping. I have seen many blogs about people who use reusable containers at Whole Foods. Is this problem specific to the Whole Foods in my area?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KRISTIN - Health code laws are typically regulated at the city or state level. If it is against health code laws, then unfortunately we cannot allow it in our stores in that area. Some cities and states will allow using reusable containers which is probably why you are seeing a variety of comments mentioning it is possible at different locations.

Maria says …

Instead of using the plastic bags could I bring in and use glass jars? I could have the cashier tare out the scale before I fill them up. Thanks!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MARIA - I would suggest checking with your local store to find out if this is possible. This policy will differ between stores based on local/state health code laws about reusable containers.

Nicki says …

I am looking to purchase a sizable amount of organic almonds but have concerns purchasing bulk due to health concerns. My husband will be receiving a bone marrow transplant in September and his immunity will be compromised for at least 6 months. Is it possible to purchase an unopened almond bag? Thank you!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@NICKI - Our stores should be able to order a bulk bag of items that are sealed. The size/weight of the bag will more than likely differ between vendors so check with the Bulk department at your local store for more info.

Rebecca Layne says …

Can you tell me what product is in bin #5808 please. Thanks,

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@REBECCA - Our bulk PLUs can differ between stores. Check with the store where you purchased this and they'll be happy to check!

Ed Short says …

We can't remember what #6690 bulk is at 4th and Harrison store means. Thanks, Ed

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ED - Our PLU codes might differ between stores. I would suggest checking with the store directly at 415.618.0066 to find out what this code is for.