Bulk Food Bin Bags: How I Got Mine for Cheap
You know that final hurdle in plastic bag transition I've been trying to jump? The one I was going to initiate with leftover bread bags? Well, I was able to make the full leap to fabric this weekend with over a fifty percent savings. Turns out the answer was in the children's aisle at Jo Ann Fabrics. Wanna know how I finally got my bulk bin groove on? Keep reading.
I've known for a while now that making the transition to non plastic bulk bin bags was going to sink me a chunk of change. When I pantry shop, I don't screw around. For the people out there who can just walk a half a block and pick up enough for that day, I'm happy for you. I really am. You can probably make the transition with no more than five bags total. Even at three bucks a pop (a killer price, if you've shopped around), you're looking at under twenty dollars for the one time purchase. Shopping little bit by little bit isn't something I've been able to do since I lived in an extremely walkable European community with a weekly market day and a very close Penny Market.
Sure, I go once a week if need be to fill in with produce, dairy and the occasional protein sale. But for the most part, I shop once a month, and I shop big. It's also some distance for me to get to the stores that even have the bulk bins, so I combine errands when I go and get a large number of items while I'm there. For example, Whole Foods is a good forty minutes away from me. There's no way I'm coming home with just a pound of oatmeal. I'm coming home with twelve. I'll also be snagging quinoa, TVP, cashew pieces and a boatload of black beans. Then there's the stop at Al Aqsa for affordable lamb as well as by the scoop bulgur, red lentils, garbanzo beans and pine nuts. I also found another store online this weekend that's on my way to Costco where I can buy package free spices and a large number of other bulk bin items. Needless to say, three – five drawstring bags just won't cut it.
So when I spied the Jo Ann's in the same plaza as the Home Depot my husband needed to go into Friday, I decided to go in and poke around. Here's what I came out with:
One large tote bag with a zippered closure.
I got a denim one to hide the dirt, but they had different colored ones. They are located by the aprons and smaller totes designed for “decorated it yourself” projects with the children. I've been wanting one bag that seals up to hold all of my larger fabric grocery bags, drawstring mesh produce bags and any fabric bags for bulk bin shopping I was eventually able to find.
Is something like this on your list too? For just under six dollars, this one fits the bill, has a long enough carrying strap, is roomy and even makes a great back drop for pins, baubles and other pieces of flair you generally accumulate as presents from younger family members or classroom students.
Two five-packs of small, multicolored cotton, drawstring bags.
These are the perfect size for spices, pine nuts and other package free dry goods you only need a small amount of. At five dollars a bundle (a buck a bag), they're completely in my price range. I'll bet they fit into the budgets of many other households as well.
Six large cinch-sacks of hot pink rip-stop nylon.
These are the kinds that have the bottom corners stitched off to hold grommets where the extra long cinch strings get threaded through and knotted, forming a sort of impromptu backpack. All I had to do was unknot the strings, pull them out through the bottom grommets, and reknot the ends. Presto! Flat bulk bin bags. These were technically the same price as the other organic cotton ones I'd been looking at, but individually at least twice the size if not larger. This makes for fewer bags needed.
Tax included, I came out just shy of forty bucks. Transition accomplished. I can fill in the gaps with bread bags, twisty ties and rubber bands. My very conservative estimate is that I saved an easy fifty percent, although I think it was a bit more than that. Forty dollars as opposed to eighty - one hundred? I can deal with that. Got another affordable suggestion for making the switch? I'm all ears.