Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

The Bulk Department: A Shopper’s Best Friend

The bulk department can be a little intimidating for the uninitiated. When I first started shopping at Whole Foods Market®, all of the bins, item numbers, tiny writing utensils and the freeform, help yourself method made me a little nervous.

In the end, curiosity won out. I had heard it was a great money-saver, so I took a deep breath and asked one of the friendly Team Members manning the bins to give me a quick tour and overview of the department. Guess what? The bulk bins are now one of my favorite parts of the store!

The Basics of Bulk

The bulk department can be a shopper’s best friend, here’s why:

  • Bins are replenished to help keep ingredients super fresh
  • Since you can buy as much or as little as you need, you can try a variety of 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 extra packaging
  • All bulk items are required to meet Whole Foods Market’s strict Quality Standards, so you’re still getting the high quality products that you expect from us

Stock Up

Most of your 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)
  • Dried herbs and spices (oregano, paprika)

Bonus: put these staples in glass jars and clear containers and your pantry gets an instant facelift.

Explore More

Is your family trying out new whole grains, beans, rice, nuts or seeds? Buy just what you need in our bulk department.

Learn to Cook Quinoa

If you're new to cooking with beans and grains, start with our Learn to Cook recipes: Learn to Cook Beans, Learn to Cook Quinoa, Learn to Cook Whole Grains.

Or you can go wild with ingredients like forbidden black rice, unsweetened flaked coconut, golden flax seed and nutritional yeast. Because you’re not paying for packaging (or a full package), you can explore a new world of ingredients. Looking for inspiration? Ask our friendly Team Members about their favorites or use our recipes app to find out what to do with a new ingredient. 

The bulk section also holds endless kid-friendly options if you're trying to get the whole family to eat better. Check out these fun activities to try with your kiddos when exploring the bulk department, courtesy of Whole Kids Foundation.

Bulk Finds = Meals and Snacks

From morning to night, I am always turning to bulk staples to fill up my plate.

Chewy Coconut Granola Bars

New to cooking whole grains? Here’s a handy chart for soaking times and liquid-to-grain ratios.

  • Get your snack on with popcorn, raw nuts, trail mix, fruit and nut bars or roasted seaweed.

Wholesome snacking is easy with these recipes on hand, starring some of our favorite ingredients from the bulk department: Chewy Coconut Granola Bars, Popcorn Trail Mix, Oat Date Bars, Whole Grain Almond Granola with Cranberries and Pimenton Roasted Garbanzos (you can cook dried garbanzos from our bulk bins by following this simple method).

Tell me, do you shop in bulk? What’s your favorite thing to buy?