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Shopping the Bulk Section with Mason Jars

Almost every grocery store has a bulk section. If you can’t remember seeing one at your favorite store, there’s a good chance that you’ve just gotten so used to passing it by, you don’t even see it anymore. That’s certainly what’s happened in my case.

If you’re reading this, you probably like Mason jars. You are at, afterall! You probably also like saving money, and I’d guess that you’re doing your part (or at least see the value) in reducing unnecessary plastic waste.

So I’ll just cut to the chase. Grab some jars and head straight for the nearest bulk section! That’s what we did today, and I couldn’t believe all the awesome products we’d been missing by not embracing this idea sooner. Half the time, we pour our items straight into a Mason jar and toss out the packaging, anyway. Why not skip the middleman? Plus, you can buy the exact amount you want – no more, no less!

Here’s a recap of our experience today, with a few tips mixed in to make your bulk shopping experience a little easier.

Step 1: Bring your Mason jars and lids (we recommend plastic storage lids or stainless steel storage lids) to a cashier and kindly ask them to weigh your jars, prior to filling them. This is called the “tare weight.” In our case, the cashier wrote this weight on our lids with a magic marker.

Step 2: Take your jars (and, if you have one, your sweet four-year-old helper) over to the bulk section and assess which jars you brought (if you brought different sizes) are best for which items you want to purchase. Pro tip: Bring more jars than you think you’ll need. I wish we’d brought at least a couple more. You will find something you’ll want that you weren’t expecting!

Step 3: Fill your jars with whatever suits your fancy. In our case, we filled a half pint jar with pepitas, a pint jar with bean soup mix, and a quart jar with steel cut oats. Pro tip: bring a piece of scrap paper and make a list of your items, along with the item numbers. It will make the checkout process go much more smoothly once you get to the cashier.

Step 4: Head to the cashier! I put my Mason jars and list of items on the conveyor belt first and explained everything to the cashier. I must be honest: The process didn’t go quite as smoothly as I’d hoped. We had to do some simple math (which I don’t mind), because they didn’t have any standard procedures or buttons on their register for taking off the tare weight. Overall, the checkout process took an extra couple of minutes, but that’s because she’d never had someone bring in their own jars before. Going forward, she (and the other cashiers who were watching) will have an easier time with it. I think that they will start to see more and more Mason jars used in the bulk section until, eventually, they won’t bat an eye at it! Let’s all be part of that movement!

2 thoughts on “Shopping the Bulk Section with Mason Jars”

  1. I have tried this, with jars and Tupperware containers, but of the 3 grocery stores in my town none are willing to do this. I worked around it for my zero-waste, for larger size bulk foods and produce, by using the zippered mesh delicate laundry bags (doller stores package of 3 for $1). They are light enough to not worry about the tare weight.

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We’re Maggie and Ryan, the Chief Mason Jar Geeks, founders, and owners of Mason Jar Lifestyle. We’re here to help eco-fabulous people (like you!) find the most innovative, charming, and useful Mason jar accessories anywhere (in one convenient location – lucky you!) so that you can “Live the Lifestyle” too!

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