Cooking with my friend the other week started a conversation about where to buy ingredients so I thought I'd let you know where I get some of mine.
It's just not cost effective to buy your ingredients from the supermarket - $5.00 for 500gms of rice flour - I don't think so. I sometimes go to the bulk barns (places like the Bin Inn in NZ or Bulk Barn in Canada) but sometimes they are also expensive.
The best way is to find a place that sells in bulk to the food industry, cafe's etc. In Wellington it's Moore Wilsons who do 5kg bags of rice flour for around $11, tapioca and potato starch come in similar amounts for a similar price (try Gilmours in Auckland).
You may think that 5kgs is a lot of flour but it does last and once you get started, you'll be surprised at how quickly you use that up. By the way, I have a 5kg container in which I mix my flour. Just pop it all in and shake it up.
Guar gum can also be bought in bulk, you certainly don't want to be buying it from the health or organic shops as it's way too expensive! Before I left for Canada I had an arrangement with the organic shop to get me 1kg of (non-organic) guar gum for around $16.00. Unfortunately, this shop no longer exists so I'm on the lookout for somewhere else to buy it. I'll let you know once I find somewhere. I guess my point here is that you should always ask. Places like that have access to things that you don't and are generally happy to talk to you about getting things you need.
Buckwheat flour - I haven't found anywhere that does this cheaper than the bulk places. If you find anything let me know and I'll be happy to repost it.
If you find somewhere that sells good quality ingredients for good prices, please let me know and I'll share it with my friends. It's really important that we share information so that we can support businesses who support us.