Grocery Shopping: Tips & Tricks
Grocery shopping. Woof! I had no idea how much plastic I used while I was grocery shopping until I purchased some reusable bulk bags and started counting how many of those disposable bags I would have been using previously. Shopping zero waste in my city, Dallas, is actually super easy so I am very lucky. I know that not everywhere has places like Winco, Central Market, and Whole Foods. And that sucks! So if you live in an area where bulk shopping isn't an option yet, please don't feel bad, keep doing the best you can, and keep calling your local stores and asking for bulk bin options.
In this post I wanted to dive into how easy it has been for us to switch over to a low waste shopping style, and how much money it is saving us in the process.
This is a photo of one of my Winco grocery hauls that cost only $41.46! This haul included lots of fresh veggies, raw cashews, TVP, Extra Virgin olive Oil, Agave, and Smoked Paprika.
Before switching over to the bulk section I was spending $60-$80 per week on groceries, so we are for sure saving money!
I am finding that most places I go there is tons of plastic being used in the produce section and it frustrates me to no end. I can't even shop for produce at Trader Joe's anymore because everything that needs to be chilled is in plastic. WHY? However, there are places that make plastic free produce shopping easier! Winco, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Whole Foods, & Central Market all have tons of produce that aren't packaged. The photos above are just a few of the options at Winco. I love that they sell Portobello mushrooms individually, and I've noticed that Whole Foods and Central Market have a variety of loose mushrooms in their produce section!
Shopping for plastic free produce is beneficial on many levels:
1. You save money because you only have to buy what you need
2. You help the environment because you are saying no to plastic
3. You are creating a higher demand for plastic free produce
4. You decrease food waste, because again, you are only buying what you need
5. You more than likely are eating more seasonal foods because you aren't buying frozen or canned vegetables
I cannot get over how extensive the Winco bulk section is. Holy moly! It beats out any health store I've ever shopped at, and I love it!
I get my organic coffee for only $6.98 a pound, I get all my vegan "essentials" like nutritional yeast, TVP, raw cashews, beans, rice, lentils, nuts for making milk, etc. from the bulk section and save so much money. I can get four pounds of all purpose un-bleached flour for $1.00! If you have a Winco within an hour of your home or work, I would say it's well worth the drive for the bulk section.
The only down side to Winco, in my opinion, is that they don't zero out the weights of your reusable bags/containers. Other places with bulk sections usually will do this, but they don't. So I always bring my cotton of mesh bags, that weigh very little, and my plastic containers that I've saved from restaurants that also weigh very little. Don't bring mason jars, or heavy containers because then you're paying for the weight of your container.
They even have a bulk tea section!
If you are bringing your reusable containers to use at stores with bulk sections, PLEASE make sure they are clean. It only takes one person bringing a nasty bag or container to the bulk section to make a store change its' policies. Don't be gross. Wash your bags, wash your containers, and also write down the PLU so that the person checking you out doesn't have to look everything up. Don't make zero waste, or being eco conscience a hassle for grocery store employees. We already have a pretty bad reputation thank to the media, so please please please prove people wrong.
Also, please remember that the zero in zero waste is a goal, it's not reality. I don't think I've ever met a zero waster who is truly zero waste. So don't be discouraged, keep doing your best, keep making small changes, and keep saving the world! You rock for even looking into going zero or low waste, and I hope you will keep researching.
If you want to keep up with my zero waste journey please follow me on instagram!