Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

The Whole Deal™ on Bulk

By Winnie Hsia, October 30, 2008  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Winnie Hsia

One of my favorite aisles to walk down in any Whole Foods Market is the bulk section.  Towering clear bins brimming with grains, dried beans, dried fruits, nuts, spices and more - all waiting to be weighed out and taken home - in exactly the quantity you want and need.  Plus, everything in the bulk section comes with minimal packaging and can be stored without the aide of refrigeration.  It's arguably the greenest, healthiest and most economical place to shop in the store.  So if you've never taken a spin down the bulk aisle, I encourage you to give it a try! Remember, each week, we choose tips to be featured in our weekly The Whole Deal™ blog post.  Every chosen tip gets a $25 gift card, so submit you tips and recipes here. And without further ado, our tips of the week, featuring some great tips on shopping in this great section. From Claire:

Beans are a great way to stretch a meal and add protein to your diet. The best way to save on beans? Ditch the can! I used to buy all my beans in cans until I realized I could spend the same amount on dried beans and end up with 3-4 times more food! If you plan ahead and put them in a slow cooker over night, you’ll have all the beans you need for your recipes the next day. Whole Foods has a really awesome selection of dried beans and peas in the bulk bins that are even cheaper than the prepackaged dried beans!
From Ed:
When the money is running a little short, its time to make sure the perimeter of the store is on the radar. Many of the packaged foods we like can be made by hand and save a considerable amount of money. Instead of buying a fancy granola cereal, go to the bulk foods section and buy oatmeal, various nuts and seeds. Get some sugar cane or honey or fresh fruit (will need to dehydrate if you want to keep the cereal for any time). Then with a little creativity add the ingredients together. Congratulations: cereal. Then head to the dairy section and get yourself some organic milk. Eat and enjoy.
From Marissa:
I love the bulk section of the store. As a recent college graduate not making much money, this section is the place to shop. You can buy HUGE bags of quinoa or barley, even polenta, for a fraction of the price. I also love the 365 brand. Everything from their shampoo and body wash to their frozen fruits (which are AMAZING once that particular fruit has gone out of season, just buy and stock in your freezer!!) are sooo cheap that you’d be silly NOT to buy it.
Category: Value - Whole Deal




Maria says ...
the bulk section is the BEST! A few years ago I shyly went byt the bulk section not knowing what I should buy or how to cook any of it.. A few weeks later I snuck by again and took some time and looked around.. Whew hew for me they tell you how to cook the grains. I am now the Eastern Cous Cous Queen. I follow the Cous Cous recipe but use Veggie broth instead of water. I add in lemon juice, hot sauce, sun dried tomatoes, black olive, chopped red onions and fresh basil, cracked black pepper too... Grill a little tilapia on the side with lemon pepper serve over the Cous Cous and it is the SUPER BEST HEALTHY comfort meal you can get..
11/03/2008 1:46:59 PM CST
Dina says ...
I use a pressue cooker to cook my beans and legumes. I soak them overnight in a plenty of cold water before cooking. The indian spices go really well with the bean dishes.
11/03/2008 5:03:06 PM CST
Neal Rubenatein says ...
Hi, I'm trying to figure out which of your bulk granolas I like best,and, foolishly or not, I think about doing this methodically. So I thought I would go to my local WFM, Bedford, MA, and write down the names of all the granolas, their contents and prices, buy some of each, and review each according as I liked them. Then I could be sure, in my compulsive little mind, that I had chosen the best one. Then I wondered if the information was available on-line, and I could save myself some trouble; I can't find it, but is it? Thanks, Neal
01/25/2009 9:34:53 AM CST
Neal Rubenatein says ...
Hi again, Here's a general queswtion about bulk granolas: nut oils in such products tend to become rancid with time. So time or turnover is the critical thing. Do you know, (i.e., have any figures) for the granolas, what the throughput, or rate at which they move, is? Thanks, Neal
01/25/2009 9:44:01 AM CST
hsiaw says ...
@Neal We do not have nutritional information for our bulk items available online; however, you can check with Customer Service at Bedford, MA to see if they could provide you with the nutrition info on the bulk granolas you're interested in to avoid having you take all that information down manually. You can also check in with them about the turnover of their bulk items. Again, this will vary from store to store. Thanks for your inquiries!
01/29/2009 1:24:03 PM CST
Rocky says ...
Is cross contamination a problem in buying bulk items from bins for people who need to avoid gluten?
02/04/2009 12:41:44 PM CST
hsiaw says ...
@Rocky We make every effort to avoid cross contamination in our bulk department; however, if you are particularly gluten-sensitive, you may want to avoid any items that are not explicitly marked 'Gluten-Free'.
02/04/2009 1:14:49 PM CST
Mike says ...
I shop at the WF store in Roswell, GA (Harry's Farmers Market) and am desperately wanting them to bring back the bulk isle.
03/03/2009 2:13:11 PM CST
Larry Cravey says ...
We go through a lot of black pepper at our house and Whole Foods peppercorns are some of the best we have ever used. So, what happened to bulk black peppercorns? The folks at my Winston Salem store tell me that they can't get black peppercorns in bulk packaging any more. The only alternative now is to purchase the peppercorns in small glass bottles. We recycle the bottles, but the cost is more than double. Any way to get those bulk package peppercorns back on the shelf?
08/10/2009 8:18:59 AM CDT
Nate says ...
Can anyone tell me if Whole Foods stocks paella rice? Bomba or Calasparra would be great but any medium-grain "paella rice" would be fine. Would it be in the bulk bins or the grocery aisle? Thanks
08/22/2009 10:26:44 AM CDT
Karl Schilling says ...
Is there someplace on-line where I can view the Whole Foods bulk item codes? We have a some bags of various grains from Whole Foods bulk and are having trouble determining what they are! Thanks
11/22/2009 12:45:29 AM CST
hsiaw says ...
@Karl Our bulk selection and associated product codes vary between stores. Your best bet is to call up your local store directly in case you've forgotten what something is. :)
11/23/2009 4:33:04 PM CST
Jane says ...
Will Whole Foods start stocking some low- or no- sugar cold cereals in the bulk bins (e.g. shredded wheat, Uncle Sam, Grape Nuts, or Cheerios type)? I'd love to be able to eliminate all those plastic bags from the cereal box liners that are not recyclable (we get way more than we are able to use/reuse). We use re-usable bags for our bulk foods purchases. Being able to buy cold cereal in bulk would be great. The granolas are nice, but we need more cold cereal variety - some non-granola types would be most welcome.
02/07/2010 11:02:02 AM CST
Peter says ...
It would be 4-ply useful if Whole Foods posted their bulk food database online, listing name, code, and availability by store: 1. Purchase leftovers with just codes scribbled on the ties could be identified 2. Shopping trips could be planned for the best stock in a multi-store metro area 3. Stick-on labels could be preprinted for a shopping trip, instead of scribbling on ties in real time 4. Menu planning at home would be facilitated
03/30/2010 9:36:47 AM CDT
vaughnm says ...
Our product selection varies from store to store, so talk to your local store about stocking these items. Thanks! http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/all/index.php
04/05/2010 11:26:46 AM CDT
Beth Delfino says ...
recently discovered the bulk section, I have been enjoying those delicious little brown chunks of carob and spirilina with other ingredients, just one a day and my sweet tooth is satisfied and I was told it gives you energy - I believe it does.
01/10/2012 1:12:11 PM CST
Lucia Marino says ...
The products in the "bulk foods" bins do not, as far as I've seen, specify the country where they were grown. For example, the "organic 'Whole Almonds (Supreme)'". Why is this information not generally provided? And where are said almonds actually grown? Thank you so very much - L. Marino
12/28/2012 11:17:45 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LUCIA - The vendors where each store receives their bulk items will vary between regions and store locations. I would suggest reaching out to your local store and they can help look in to where the almonds are sourced from if they have this information available. You can find their contact info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.
01/02/2013 12:32:38 PM CST
Lauren says ...
do you carry organic dried whole peas for sprouting? thx.......
04/11/2013 8:51:54 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LAUREN - Our products vary between locations. Check with your local store to see what they have in stock.
04/15/2013 4:51:54 PM CDT
Diane Fernandez says ...
What are the ingredients for the strawberry bulk granola? Is it vegan?
09/24/2014 6:16:17 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@DIANE - The vendor for our bulk granola will differ between stores. Check with your local store to see if they have a strawberry option in stock and if so, they'll be happy to let you know if it's vegan.
09/25/2014 12:18:57 PM CDT
Hillary Kusko says ...
I love filling mason jars in my pantry with bulk items. I love buying various beans, lentils, and spices to make a big batch of chili. You can also use them to make so many other meals like tacos, lentil stew, and bean veggie burgers. I like buying items that can be used for a variety of recipes. One of my favorite recipes is so simple: Red lentils, white onions, a splash of oil and top off with sea salt and black pepper. The lentils naturally have such a powerful taste so even though it sounds so basic, it is full of yummy flavor!
03/01/2015 7:39:44 PM CST
Connie Phillips says ...
I'm trying to find out what these bulk items are and cannot on the website. Please give me a way to look these up, or if you know what they are, that works too. 5875 7236 5887 THANKS!
06/13/2015 9:03:29 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CONNIE - We don't currently offer online ordering so it's best to check with your local store. They can look up the PLU number for the bulk items.
06/16/2015 6:21:33 PM CDT