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Bulk Up in the Bulk Aisle: Good for Singles, Health Nuts, and Creative Cooks

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Until recently, the bulk aisles of the grocery store remained a mystery to me. You know, the section with all the plastic bins, scoops, and tiny id tags. I always sensed it was an area filled with granola and trail mix, so I would carefully shop around it.

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Sidenote: I’m also allergic to peanuts, and I assumed everything in the bulk aisle would include the dreaded “may contain peanut molecules that will kill you, bwa ha ha!” I was wrong about this. There are plenty of nut-free products here, and each is marked clearly.

Here’s a rundown of the essentials:Get crunchy: I was seduced into Sunflower’s bulk aisle by the idea of making my own granola bars and was surprised by the variety: $2.99 for a pound of French vanilla granola? Strawberry-raspberry, pumpkin spice, or strawberries-and-cream flavors are also available. I started to wonder why I ever got stuck in the boring cereal aisle looking at Count Chocula.

Get your staples: Color me embarrassed: I didn’t know plain ol’ items like flour and salt are also in the bulk aisles. And the flours are plentiful: spelt flour, soy flour, and pastry flour. I also found turbinado sugar, which I can’t even identify, but judging from the root word, I’m pretending it will make me extremely fast.

Legumes and grains: As someone with limited pantry space, I can no longer afford the real estate of purchasing the dog-food-size bag of jasmine rice. Here, I can get smaller amounts of my beloved jasmine, as well as other varieties like wild dark rice and sushi rice. I’ve also been hesitant to buy dried beans–the soaking process always seemed tedious–but the variety of dried legumes that aren’t available in cans is impressive. I noted cranberry beans, green split peas, and red and green lentils.

Extras: A few more options from your bulk aisle: multi-grain pancake mix, soy milk powder, instant refried beans, falafel mix, and hummus mix.

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Storage: There are many storage options for your bulk bounty, but I’ve become smitten with the old-fashioned canning jars. The small size is perfect for my tiny, bachelorette-pad kitchen. Also, they’re easy on the pocketbook: 12 jars cost around $10.

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