Now, more than ever, we need to be sure about what we're buying, and the way in which produce is packaged and delivered.
Melbourne has a range of bulk food stores that can give you the confidence you need in doing your weekly shop. And during isolation, it's more important than ever to start changing some habits.
Here are the best bulk food stores Melbourne has to offer. And you can have peace of mind in the fact that many deliver, or offer click-and-collect to keep contact at a minimum.
The Source Bulk Food
The Source may not be the cheapest bulk food store, but with 12 stores throughout Victoria, it is the most accessible.
They cater for those avoiding gluten with every kind of gluten-free flour you can imagine, and stock a great line of vegan treats, ready-made cereals, soap, detergent and body washes amongst their 400 products.
Their scoop-and-weigh system is easy to use with no minimum or maximum of what you can buy, and the spacious layout and relaxed environment of their stores guarantee a peaceful shopping experience. Simply bring your own jars or containers (or buy one of their own) and stock up in one of their user-friendly zero-waste stores.
Friends Of The Earth Co-op
Thriving on Smith Street for more than 30 years, Friends of the Earth is a not-for-profit co-op run solely by volunteers.
If you provide your own bags, jars and containers, Friends of the Earth provide affordable bulk food (including non-packaged tofu), fruit and vegetables, health and eco-cleaning products.
There’s a focus on supporting small companies and producers, with the majority of their stock being locally grown and owned. After you’ve done your shopping, have a hot organic vegetarian meal and a sweet treat at the attached cafe, served from midday until late afternoon every day.
There is a reason this Northcote health-food haven is always busy. Terra Madre has everything you need at affordable prices under one colourful roof.
While some call it crowded, we’d call it cosy, and although the narrow isles might not be for the claustrophobic, the queues move quickly and you’ll be at the front of the line before you can ask ‘is this gluten-free?’. For the unfortunate lactose intolerant people among us, never fear, Terre Madre sell a dairy-free alternative for every kind of milk product you can think of.
Apples & Sage
This fully certified organic supermarket is a family-run business providing fresh food the way nature intended: there’s no synthetic pesticides, fertilisers or additives in sight at Apples & Sage.
The staff are all well-educated and up for a chat about any one of their many products. There are weekly tastings from local suppliers, organic and responsibility sourced meats, organic fruit and veggies, and believe it or not, gluten-free bread that actually tastes like bread, not the dense, sweet imitation we too often pretend resembles our favourite form of flour.
Good luck leaving the store without nabbing one of the hand-made raw desserts they oh-so-conveniently have located at the check-out.
BasFoods Is Australia’s leading importer and supplier of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods, and one of Brunswick’s best kept secrets.
Come here to stock up on herbs and spices, salts, pulses and legumes, and grab something new to try while you’re at it, like Greek trahana or Turkish rose-petal jam.
Admittedly, there is a lot of plastic in use at BasFoods, but their products are packaged in bulk, meaning fewer trips to the supermarket, more money in your pocket, and less plastic in the long run.
Royal Nut Company
Malvern, Brunswick & Rowville
In case you haven’t worked it out already, the Royal Nut Company sells nuts (as well as dried fruit, legumes, grains, spices and more) in bulk.
They stock every kind of nut you can think of plus more that you didn’t even know existed, including a whopping 24 variations of the almond. A word of wisdom if you’re buying nuts in bulk they are best kept in the freezer: they don’t freeze, and only need to be left out for 5 minutes before they’re ready to be eaten.
The Staple Store
The Staple Store is a health-lovers paradise tucked away in the sleepy suburban suburb of Ripponlea.
A seasoned cook and clinical naturopath, owner Catie handpicks only the best tried and tested products and highest quality whole foods. Her vision for The Staple Store was to create a place that brings together health and happiness, resulting in a welcoming and sustainable shop locals know and love.
Open Tuesday through Saturday Catie and her knowledgable, friendly team offer advice about how to eat and what to eat with the selection available right in front of you. Healthy eating has never been easier.
The team at Graina do everything they can to make recycling and reducing waste really, really easy for their customers. They stock a wide range of mueslis, lentils and legumes, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, organic teas, chocolates, and more in their small Moonee Ponds store.
There’s no minimum on any of their products, meaning if you’re recipe calls for just need two heaped teaspoons of bee pollen, you can get exactly that with zero-waste. Their nutmylks are made fresh in-store, and you can customize them with your choice of nut, natural flavourings and superfood powders, and if you can’t make it to Moonee Ponds, you can shop online and have your good delivered to you.
As the largest wholefood retailers in Melbourne, Wholefood Merchants has every fresh, organic, pesticide and allergy-free product you need and more.
As well as their foods in bulk, Wholefood Merchants also stock produce, vitamins, skincare, homeware, gifts and even crystals if your chakra needs fine-tuning. The vegetarian cafe attached to the store caters for people with food allergies and intolerances so no-one has to miss out.
Naked Foods has a range of bulk foods that range from nuts, spreads, honey, to dried fruits and grains.
Brings your own jars and stock up on everything and anything your recipe could possibly call for. There's also a range of oils which you can grab by the millilitre.
Naked Foods also has a great range of sweet treats also, pretty hard to not grab a couple for the trip home.
For more of the best Melbourne has to offer, head to our Best Of Guides section.
Image credit: supplied