>>Where do you buy grains in bulk?<<
I used to buy grains in bulk directly from a bulk distributor that had an option to sell to private individuals (at a markup from what they charged the stores), until I found a store that also ordered from them that allowed me to place my order with theirs, and pick it up when I do my shopping there. This has been much more convenient for me, since the distributor was three hours from my house and then another hour-plus to any other place I was doing shopping. And I’m a very good customer of that store, so they were happy to do it for me – but it’s not something they generally do so something like this has to be worked out with the store manager personally. (I had another store that also agreed to do this for me, so I’m sure this is an approach others can try).
>>Do you have suggestions on where to find stores or food wholesalers or distributors from whom to buy in bulk?<<
I started looking for suppliers by asking local health food stores who they ordered through, then contacting them to see if they’d sell directly to me. Those suppliers wouldn’t but I knew someone was out there who would, so I kept nosing around the internet and making calls until I found my supplier. I had to pick my order up locally, but another company I spoke to said they’d deliver if my order was above a certain amount, and we had access for their large delivery truck. There are also co-ops you can purchase through who have either local drops or will deliver – Azure Standard comes to mind, but there are others. If you know others in your area who are frugally minded, they might know of other local options or would be willing to share costs if you organized a large order.
>>How do you store them (bulk items)?<<
I store everything in buckets. I used to stack the buckets 2 or sometimes even three high, but then it got to be too many buckets for the small area I had available. At that time, I made a platform using a free pallet to keep them off the floor. So last year I bought very heavy duty shelving units that can hold a lot of weight and that has made it very easy to find space, since I can use the space vertically all the way up. Very nice, and I always have plenty of space now. It’s lots more organized, no more stacking buckets.
>>Where do you get your storage buckets usually?<<
Restaurants often have these for free since the bulk foods they purchase come in them; you may have to wash them out, but they’re generally happy to give them to you if they have them. You can also approach bakeries, who get frosting in large buckets. These are all (obviously :)) food grade buckets. I prefer square buckets, which are harder to get hold of, but I find they’re much more space efficient – you lose a lot of space with round storage containers (this is true of refrigerator storage containers, too – I try to stick with square or rectangle shapes for this same reason). Also, the lids on the round buckets are often different sizes and it can be a chore to match the right lid with the bucket it goes to. But I still have to use them since I don’t yet have enough square buckets for my needs.
(This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.)