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Living green and vegan
Food purchases 
22nd-Apr-2011 10:03 pm
unschooling, homeschooling
I need a better system to transport food purchases- I use reusable bags for carrying the whole order, I have cloth produce bags, but flours and stuff are still going in disposable bags (which I then reuse for cat litter scoopings). I buy LOTS of bulk stuff: most shopping runs are a half gallon each of black beans, rice, pinto beans, oatmeal, flour, lentils, navy beans, then also a quart each of several kinds of nuts, nutritional yeast, etc. That's a lot of big glass jars to lug to the store, and my storage containers are seldom completely empty when I restock. We've also got a few frequent visitors with food allergies, so I worry about cross contamination issues reusing bags. Bag reuse gets complicated when gluten, almonds and cashews are potential toxins. There's got to be a better way to do this. Anyone have a good system?
23rd-Apr-2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
They do make reusable bags specifically intended for bulk foods. Just one example I can think of is this Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/kootsac. Sometimes you can also find them by searching "produce bags" (instead of "bulk bags," which mostly gives you companies selling regular totes in large quantities). The produce bags basically don't have the square base that regular reusable bags typically do. Example: http://www.bluelotusblankets.com/catalog/reuseablebulkproductbags-c-1.html. Some even have a waterproof or plastic lining so that your dry bulk foods stay dry.

I think the cheapest solution might be to take a Sharpie marker and label the plastic bulk bags such that you don't cross-contaminate. Or, at least, label the ones that would be an issue (i.e., the nuts, etc.) and reuse the plastic bags for bulk food that you've already gotten at the store. If you run out of cat-litter-scooping bags, you could always purchase paper lunch sacks, which would biodegrade better anyway (assuming you're using biodegradable cat litter, as well).

Another thought would be to buy bigger and then use actual pails/buckets. Some companies (Eden Foods comes to mind) will sell in larger bulk quantities (and at a discount) to reduce packaging. When I was married, my husband bought flour in a 50-pound sack and then got two food-quality buckets with lids to store it. (Of course, then the trouble would not be with the system of transportation, but rather, with storage!)
23rd-Apr-2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
Could you bring in empty plastic storage containers and have the cashier write a tare weight on them before you fill them? That way you can wash the allergens off afterward.
25th-Apr-2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure if this would work for you, but my natural foods store has plastic bags available in the bulk aisle. I simply fill them at the store, dump the items into my reusable containers at home, and then reuse the bags for dog poop pickup like I do with the generic plastic grocery bags I get when I buy meat for my dogs (I can't stand the thought of raw meat drippings in my lovely canvas bags).
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