Although Hong Kong kitchens often don't have a lot of storage, if you plan out what you use on the regular, you can still stock up to save on money, time, and waste! Check out these tips from The Veggie Wifey
Hong Kong is spoilt for choice when it comes to grocery shopping. We have the convenience of fresh, home delivered local organic produce from the farms up in New Territories, and we have an extensive range of imported foods from all around the world in health food stores and supermarkets. But it is important to keep an eye on the budget when grocery shopping as you can easily get carried away and overpay.
Here are a few tips and tricks for bulk buying, so you can save time and money, and reduce your food waste at the same time!
Bulk buying in Hong Kong
1. Keep a record of what your household consumes on a weekly basis
The first step is to understand your household diet. There are five people (and another on the way) that live in The Veggie Wifey household. We cook 14 fresh meals a day. We do have a Hong Kong style kitchen, with limited storage and space for only one fridge. I have to be practical about how we purchase groceries.
I started keeping a log of what meals we consume as a family, and then organised what we needed to buy in bulk. For example, if we collectively ate meals with tomatoes or mushrooms, I would buy it in bulk rather than small plastic packets from the higher-end grocery stores. There is a significant price difference for ordinary vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, etc. in various markets around Hong Kong. Unless I need a special ingredient for a special dish, I don’t think it is necessary to spend three times the price for ordinary vegetables.
2. Bulk buying fruit and vegetables
Public markets are the best place to buy fruit and vegetables in bulk. You may have to scout around the stalls to find good quality vendors, but there is a significant price difference compared to buying fruits and vegetables from high-end grocery stores like Market Place, City Super, Great, ThreeSixty, and at times, Fusion, ParknShop and Wellcome.
Go to the closest wet market near your home. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of Hong Kong is a great organisation, they have set up building-style public wet markets around Hong Kong that are filled with local, hawker style fruit and vegetable sellers. You can find anything and everything you need for home cooked meals from these local markets, and if you build a great relationship with some of the sellers, they may even give you an extra discount.
Another place for bulk-buying vegetables is the Government Wholesale Food Market. There are a total of four wholesale markets in Hong Kong. There is one in Sai Wan (right beside Sun Yat Sen park) called Western Wholesale Food Market, two in Cheung Sha Wan and another in North District.
These places supply good quality vegetables in bulk to most of the restaurants and supermarkets here in Hong Kong. It opens up at 3am and gets extremely busy with lorries and trucks by 5am, delivering the orders for their retail clients. By 8-9am, some vendors are ready to sell their leftover stock. You may have to tour around as some vendors may be unwilling to sell one-off mangos or avocados (they usually sell it by the box), but it is definitely worth a once-a-week trip for groceries as it has all the fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry under one roof.
Top tip: When you do bulk buy your fresh greens, like salad leaves, spinach, cabbage, herbs, etc. it has a tendency to wilt, even when it is stored in the fridge (thanks to Hong Kong humidity). You must be sure the greens will be consumed within three to four days after your bulk purchase; otherwise it will be best to buy those in smaller quantity. Another tip is to buy these in bulk from the frozen section or chop them up and store them in the freezer to last longer.
3. Bulk buying dry ingredients
Ingredients like flour, oats, rice, pasta, nuts, seeds, lentils, spices and teas are great to buy in bulk because they have a long shelf life. If you can find enough storage space in your kitchen (and freezer), purchasing one to two kilograms worth of these staple ingredients and organising them in clear containers is a great method to reduce waste, and save money.
For general all-purpose unbleached organic flour, CitySuper Times Square and Market Place in Princes Building have good deals with Bobs Red Mill or King Arthur flour.
- For oats, iHerb has the best deals
- For cooking oils, salad oils, seeds, oat milk, nuts like almonds and cashews, HKTV Mall has great deals.
- For spices and teas in bulk, Regency Spices may not be the cheapest, but they have a great variety and their quality is outstanding. Be sure to store these in the freezer to maintain the freshness for longer.
- For lentils, whole-wheat flour, and other types of flour, Asian stores like Maharaja Mart, Sohamna Organics, Star Mart Online, and Bhavika Online have an extensive range with good bargains. Some of these stores also do home delivery.
- For rice & pasta, Wellcome and ParknShop tend to have the best deals for buying those in bulk.
4. Zero-waste stores: Is it worth the trek?
Zero-waste stores are more expensive than bulk buying from the places I mentioned above. However, they do offer organic and high-quality products. I do love exploring the shelves of Slowood, Live Zero, Edgar and Foodcraft. Items like cocoa nibs, flavoured granola, kombucha, plant-based milk, and high-protein pasta are a great off-the-regular grocery list treat for us.
5. Bulk buying for your baby/toddler
Baby Central, an online marketplace for everything baby, has the best deals in town for bulk buying formula (if you are using HiPP specifically). When you’re purchasing items like nappies, baby rash creams, wipes, snacks, cotton and any other baby essentials, HKTV Mall has great bulk-deals.
6. Replenishing your stock
When you keep track of your household diet, it will be really easy for you to understand how often you need to replenish you bulk stock of groceries. For example, I have limited space at home; therefore, I tend to do a semi-bulk purchase from the markets, and the supermarkets (Wellcome, Fusion, ParknShop) once a week. I don’t trek very far for the essentials I need for my house. I go to the nearest market, and nearest supermarket. For the dry items, I would usually buy those in bulk once a month and get that delivered to the house.
Replenishing your stock depends on your budget, convenience, how you will be transporting the bulk ingredients back home. If you’re shopping alone, it can be quite difficult lugging bulk groceries around. Be sure to get someone to help you, or arrange transport. Home deliveries are certainly the best option when available.