Sunday, July 20, 2014

How I Shop

So, I've been trying to buy almost everything I can from bulk bins to eliminate disposable packaging. This is the system I've rigged up for myself after some trial and error.

1. First, I grab a stash of empty cloth bulk bags. (I've made some of my own from an old ripped bed sheet, and also bought some of these.)

Note that I've written a different number on each bag with a permanent marker. This comes in handy later.

2. Then I head to the store and fill the bags with my favorite bulk foods.

Note: Foods such as sesame sticks are oily and will leave grease stains on the bag. It's not a big deal, but keep it in mind if there are certain bags you wish to keep in mint condition. Also, ground coffee stains.

3. I usually just fill up to about an inch from the top. If I'm worried about how much it will cost, I'll weigh it a few times as I'm filling. Otherwise, I just make sure I can close the bag without stuff spilling out the top.

4. I then knot the drawstring as tightly closed as possible. Pictured in the steps below is the knot I usually use, which you can easily untie by pulling on the end. 

5. I use an app on my smartphone called ColorNote to quickly jot down the PLU number and the number on the bag itself.

It looks like this, where "1" is the number of the bag and "5034" is the PLU number for the item:

Tip: ColorNote allows you to "pin" the note to the top of the screen so I can easily pull it down and add to it as I wander through the store.

6. When I'm all packed up, I head to the cash register. I try to place the bags on the conveyor belt in numerical order. As soon as possible, I let the cashier know that I have all of the numbers for the bulk items on my phone and that I can read them off as they weigh each item.

This is where the numbers on the bags come in handy. It makes it so that I don't have to guess what is in each bag as it is being weighed. I can easily look at the number on the bag and match it with the note on my phone. As I read off each number, I can mark it as finished on my checklist.

7. When bagging, I try to keep the bags upright so that they don't spill their contents as I travel home. If I have wet/cold foods, I try to keep them separate, as they will sweat onto the cloth bags.

8. Once home, I grab a stash of Mason jars.

9. Then I untie the bags (by pulling on the end of the drawstring) and fill the Mason jars with the contents. I find a wide-mouth funnel to be especially helpful.

10. If it's an item that's hard to identify, I write the name of the item on the top of the lid with a wax crayon.

11. Voila! All of my bulk stuff, in easy to identify glass jars.

Until next time!

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