And there is more to beans than chili! I consider myself a master at economical and healthy shopping. And one of my secrets is shopping in the bulk aisle. Luckily for me there is a health food store not too far away that has an extensive organic bulk section. I make an afternoon of heading over to Nature’s Temptations in Ridgefield, CT to stock up on bulk items, have a nice lunch in their deli and meet CT friends for coffee (or a fresh organic juice!). Whole Foods stores also usually have a good bulk item sections, but you have to check every item to make sure it’s actually something healthy. Often their bulk items are not organic, or are processed. But they do carry a good selection of organic beans, grains, nuts, dried fruits and granolas.
Shopping bulk organic makes sense.
Some items are less than half the price per pound than buying the same brand item pre-packaged!
Having base dried ingredients like these means I can always make a meal with a few fresh ingredients and these staples, and I always know exactly what’s in my food. I soak beans the night before, rinse and cook on low during the day. I make White Beans and Oregano, classic Vegetarian Chili with sweet potatoes, and in the winters love split pea or black bean soups. Quinoa is quick cooking and delicious, especially with a few chopped veggies, some sauteed onions and some chili powder and a little olive oil tossed in.
Here is my bulk shopping list for month of dry goods, all organic.
- 2# short-grain brown rice
- 4# brown basmati
- 1# red quinoa
- 1# white quinoa
- 2# small white beans
- 1# black turtle beans or 1# split peas
- 2# small red beans
- 3# maple or agave sweetened granola
- 1# thompson raisins
- 2# raw sunflower seeds
- 3# rolled oats
- 1# whichever nuts are best priced at the moment: almonds, raw cashews or walnuts
- bulk grind-your-own-fresh peanut butter
- bulk coffee, and if they have it, bulk tamari and oil.
A Bulk Buying Green Tip and A Word of Caution
If you want to make your shopping trip greener, try bringing your own re-useable containers to fill. Clean, clear plastic bag, plastic or glass containers. Just check with your store before you do this to make sure they can figure out how to accommodate you. The rule is they are not allowed to re-use containers, but a customer may bring their own. But I recently faced a problem with the local chain Mrs. Green’s. Someone in the community told me that they wouldn’t allow us to bring our own containers. So I called them and they said of course we may. I then went in armed with 5 matching Ball jars which I intended to fill with bulk rice, quinoa and nuts. I got the bulk section manager and got her permission and weighed my jars before filling them. But alas! When I got to the register, they charged me for the jar weight! I asked that the cashier take into account the weight of the jar and she said she couldn’t do it. I asked her nicely to please call the bulk manager. No help, they couldn’t actually figure it out. They called the store manager who also couldn’t do it and offered to dump all of my food into plastic bags for me, then put it back into the jars. But then they would have to throw out the plastic bags they said! Geez. This means that for nuts which were $7.99/lb, they wanted to charge me an extra $4 for using my own jar! I tried calling Mrs. Green’s for a response but got none. So double check with each particular store as to how this would work for them, before bringing your own containers and trying to save them money, and save a few gallons of petroleum product from the wastestream.
Have local shopping tips? Send them to editor [at] katonahgreen.com