Buying in bulk can be a great way to save on money and packaging and there is a fruit and veg wholesaler not that far from me – TG Fruits which I have always intended to go and check out. I wanted to find out if shopping there was a cost effective and practical way to buy unpackaged food. They are happy to have anyone shop there, you don’t have to have a business. It opens early (in the middle of the night) and you have to get there by 7.00 am ish to be able to buy anything. I had never quite managed to get round to visiting until recently.
When I got there I asked for help, as I didn’t have a clue how the place worked. They were really helpful and pointed me in the direction of the stuff I wanted and although they are a wholesalers, they let me buy half a box of bananas and half a bag of carrots as well some things like cucumbers and peppers individually. There weren’t any prices on anything, so I had to ask how much stuff cost as I went along.
I worked out that some things were cheaper than in the supermarkets e.g. apples and some things worked out more expensive e.g. bananas. None of the produce I bought was organic (at least I don’t think it was), but it all came unwrapped in open boxes. The apples I bought had a couple of layers of plastic holding them in place, but some of the other types of apples had paper/ card layers instead.
I was really excited to find that they sold unpackaged cucumbers as they are so difficult to find and at a reasonably priced 35p each!
I ended up paying £29 for a few cucumbers, a box of sweet potatoes, a couple of peppers, what seemed like 5000 apples, a million carrots and a bananas amount of bananas! I’m hoping the apples, carrots and bananas will last a couple of weeks. The bananas might not survive that long, but we have plenty of uses for over ripe bananas (recipes here, here, here and here) so they will definitely get used! Plus my kids would easily eat 3 apples and 3 bananas a day each if I let them! The only plastic was in the apple box and I put the cardboard boxes in the recycling, so it was almost a zero waste shop and at a very affordable price!
Buying unpackaged fruit and veg in bulk can save you money if you shop at a wholesaler like this and you set a few rules:
Price check – shopping in bulk isn’t always the cheapest option. It is well worth looking at supermarket price checkers online or having an idea of what you would pay for the equivalent wherever you usually shop before you buy.
Don’t buy more than you can eat – a bargain is only a bargain if it doesn’t end up in the bin! Ask if you can buy things individually or half a box or bag of it if a whole thing of it is too much. You could also speak to friends and family about clubbing together to buy boxes before you go.
Make sure you have enough space in your fridge to store the fruit and veg you buy – things like apples and satsumas will last longer in the fridge than out in the fruit bowl.
It probably won’t be organic and fair trade, but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, you want unpackaged food bought from a local business and you have a hungry growing family to feed I would definitely recommend checking out your local fruit and veg wholesaler!