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Shopping the Bulk Section

This page provides an overview of what the bulk section is, how to shop bulk, and what foods the Co-op offers in bulk.

Overview of Buying in Bulk

Food co-ops are known for their bulk foods sections. In fact, many co-ops across the country were initially founded by groups of people who bought items like rice, flour, and beans in bulk amounts (think 25lbs - 50lbs bags) and divvied up those goods between themselves. The Cambridge Food Co-op also began that way, eventually becoming a small grocery with a great bulk foods section.

The difference between then and today, is that you can buy as little or much from the bulk bins as you want. Need five pounds of flour? You can do that! Only need an ounce or two of a spice? You can shop as big or small as you want.

Helpful Tips for Buying Bulk Foods

Click on the images below for some helpful tips on what's in the bulk department and some of the benefits of buying bulk foods.

Helpful tips for buying in bulk
What foods are sold from the bulk bins?
Ask for help!
Do I have to order large quantities?
Buying in bulk is environmentally-friendly
Special order items

Step-by-Step: How To Shop the Bulk Department

Shopping for bulk foods is a little different than your average grocery shopping experience. Scroll through the images below to get a sense of how it works. Videos coming soon! Also, if you are ever unsure, please don't hesitate to ask for help. Working members and staff are more than happy to show you what to do.

Step One: Pick Your Container
Step Two: Fill Your Container
Step Three: Label Your Items; Step Four: Head to the Register

FAQs About Buying Bulk Foods at the Cambridge Food Co-op

What types of foods are in the bulk section?

  • grains and flours,

  • dried beans,

  • herbs and spices,

  • teas and coffees,

  • dried fruits,

  • granolas,

  • candies and snacks,

  • and more!


Do I have to buy large amounts of food?

Buying from the bulk section does not mean you have to buy huge amounts of a food, but rather you can scoop out as much or as little as you want. Need an ounce of tea, but two pounds of dried beans?—you can do that!​


Intimidated by the Bulk Section? Don't Worry!

The bulk section can look scary to someone who is new to the scoop bins, gravity bins (!), and spice and tea jars. Please, ask us for help if you are not sure what to do. We'd be happy to show you how to get what you need. Also, see image below for a visual of how to navigate the bulk section.​


You Can Order in Bulk Amounts

If you find something in the bulk section that you need a large quantity of, you can also special order that item. (anything from 50 pounds of flour to five pounds of coffee).


Is Shopping Bulk More Environmentally-Friendly?

Buying in bulk means we all use less plastic! 

Because foods come to us in less packaging when we buy them in large amounts, and then they are placed into the various bins and jars (instead of being repacked), the foods use less plastic. When you shop with your own reusable bags, you are further cutting down on plastic waste. Less plastic waste means a far healthier earth!

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