Shopping and Cooking From the Bulk Isle

19 Apr

Want health and value?

Shop in the bulk department!  Bulk bins offer a great variety of pantry basics and staples to support your healthy-eating plan at substantial cost savings.  By buying only the amounts you need, additional savings come from less waste.  For value, bulk buying simply can’t be beat.  And there are additional benefits to taking advantage of the variety of ingredients in bulk bins:


Bulk Food~Good food for good health!

You can buy as much or as little as you need, so you can experiment with new products without fear of commitment.


Why shop in bulk?

  • Bins are replenished often, so ingredients are super fresh.
  • There’s much less wasteful packaging.
  • Many of bulk offerings are organically grown.
  • You save money because you’re not paying for the fancy labels.


What can I buy in bulk?

All kinds of things: rice, grains, flours, pasta, soup mixes, beans, cereals, trail mixes, nut butters, dried fruits, nuts and seeds.  And don’t forget snacks and treats.


How To Shop In Bulk

  1. Fill the bag or container with the amount you want.
  2. Write down the number you see on the bin — aka the PLU number — on a twist tie or label to place on the bag or container.
  3. Check out as usual — the cashier will weigh and price your purchases.*


PRICES: To get the best buys at the store, you have to do your homework

Polenta from Bob’s Red Mill costs 59 cents per pound versus 99 cents to $1.79 per pound (the latter price for organic) at the different grocery stores.

Dried beans also are big money savers compared with canned. One pound of dried organic pinto beans costs $1.99 and will make about 5 cups of cooked beans.  At the same store, one 15-ounce can of organic pinto beans costs $2.29 but is equal to less than 2 cups.  You’d have to pay $5.73 in canned beans to equal the same amount that about $1.99 will get you when they’re dried.

Then there are the spices.  At one store, a bottle of cardamom cost $4.99 per ounce versus $1.68 per ounce in bulk.  Not only that, the jar of cardamom is 1.9 ounces, so the final price is $9.49.  That’s steep — especially if you only need a little bit.  If you buy the spice in bulk, you could buy just a tablespoon, if you want, for about 80 cents.


Ready to bulk up for healthy eating and budget savings?

If you like pasta, try quinoa.

If you like white rice, try brown rice.

If you like potato chips, try popcorn.

If you like couscous, try barley.

Homemade Refried Beans…this is my FAVORITE dish from bulk!
(Feel free to cut this recipe in half it makes quite a lot.  However, they also freeze well.)
  • 4 cups cooked pinto beans (You may used canned whole beans if you like. I prefer to use dry beans and cook them myself. Directions follow below.)
  • 3 T. healthy fat for sauteing (Butter or coconut oil.)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 t. cumin
  • 2 t. paprika
  • 2 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 t. chili powder (more or less- the intensity of chili powders seems to vary)
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • Milk, as needed (water or bean broth can be used if your family is dairy-free.)


To prepare dry beans, place the beans in a large bowl, cover with an ample amount of water and allow to soak overnight. (Keep in mind that 1 cup of dry beans equals approximately 3 cups of cooked beans).

The next day, drain and rinse the beans.

I like to make up a big batch of beans and freeze the leftovers in 2 cup portions.

In a pot or saucepan, saute the onions until they are soft and translucent.


Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.

Transfer everything to your crock pot and add the beans.

Stir in the cumin, paprika, chili powder, and black pepper.

Cover with 8 cups of water and stir it up a bit.  Cover and cook on HIGH heat for 8 hours.  No need to lift the lid, stir or baby sit these. They take care of themselves all on their own!

After the 8 hours they look soft, plump and ready to be blitzed or mashed.

With your hand protected by oven mitts, lift out the crock pot “pot” and pour the beans and their juices into a strainer that is resting in a large bowl.

I prefer slightly chunky beans, versus a super-smooth “puree” consistency.


DO NOT throw away those beautiful bean juices.  I’ll add anywhere from a 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the juices back into the beans.  It all just really depends on how thin or “loose” you want your beans to be, so go slow.

Work your way mashing through the beans until just about blended.  This is when I add the salt, I taste a bit to see how much is needed.blend-620x415

Blend a little bit more and then stir with a spatula to make sure that salt is evenly spread out through the beans.

NOW your done.

Enjoy with tacos, burritos, or alongside chips as a dip.  One of my favorite ways to eat refried beans is by the spoonfuls!

Homemade refried beans are:

1. Healthier –– Canned, store bought beans are usually full of hydrogenated oils and preservatives.

2. Frugal – I can get a 25-lb. bag of pinto beans for around $25.  That means I’m only paying about 75 cents for the beans I need to make this recipe. (This recipe makes at least as much as 2-3 cans from the store.)

3. Better tasting –  Homemade refried beans have a much better texture and are full of flavor and it’s that whole congealed fat along of the perfectly can-shaped blob-called-beans that I find utterly gross.

With reasons like that, you have to give these beans a try, at least once.


There are no two ways about it — when you eat whole foods, you spend more time preparing meals than you would if you’re just heating up a pre-made dinner.  The good news is that the extra time spent cooking is a great investment in your health.

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One Response to “Shopping and Cooking From the Bulk Isle”

  1. healthiestbeauty April 19, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Reblogged this on The healthiest beauty.

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