Making use of Bulk Foods to Ease the Budget
Sometimes it is hard to know how to incorporate bulk foods into your diet if you are not use to cooking them. I remember years ago reading cookbooks and health related books and filling my head with great ideas on how to save money and cook better food for my family. I found a store way on the other end of town that sold bulk foods in barrels that you scooped out, bagged and labeled yourself. I felt so, oh I donít know, 60ís or 70ís ish! LOL But I loved it! So I brought home my treasures and then thought.. now what do I do with it. I tried some recipes and a few turned out and some did not but in the end most days I went back to what I knew how to cook and the bulk items sat on my shelf. However, slowly I began to learn more, cook more and figured out how to incorporate these cost saving, nutritious foods into my diet. That began my journey into not only saving money (I admit this was my biggest desire when I started) but also I began to see and understand the health benefits for my family.
So now I fast forward some 20 years later and I have large buckets and a 15 cubic foot freezer full of bulk foods that we eat all the time. I have learned a lot when it comes to incorporating these foods into a basic everyday diet.
But if you are similar to me and trying to move away from packaged convenience foods and cook more naturally, healthy and ultimately cheaper meals than I hope to be able to show you how to do this.
What types of Bulk Foods?
What type of bulk foods am I referring to? They would be mostly grains and beans and a few other miscellaneous types of foods. Here is a list of what I buy in bulk:
Wheat (I use to buy flour before I started grinding my own wheat)
Corn (this would also include cornmeal if you donít grind your own)
Pop corn (a great snack and very inexpensive snack when you buy it in bulk)
Whole wheat pasta
Cane juice crystals
Baking items such as:
It is amazing with the above list and a few items from your freezer and refrigerator what you can create to feed your family.
Where to Find Bulk Foods
I often get emails from people asking where they can find bulk foods. I live in the Northwest and use a food co-op for mine. My co-op is Azure Standard. I know there are other co-ops that work similarly all around the US. Some health food stores will also carry bulk items. We also have a grocery store that sells the scoop, bag and label your items as well as carrying various items in 25 and 50# packages. So you will need to do a little shopping around to find a supplier. Some places will also mail order. This could be work (as far as cost savings) if you order with one or more other people and split the shipping costs. You will have to pencil out the math to see what the best choice is for you.
Where to Start
If you start simply you will be more likely to be able to incorporate these bulk foods into your diet. Begin with something easy. Try whole wheat flour. When you bake substitute whole wheat flour for white flour. Use hard white or hard red wheat in yeast breads. If you are buying flour it should say something like ďbest for breadĒ. Use soft white wheat for all quick breads like muffins, biscuits, cookies, etc. This is often called ďpastry flourĒ.
The next place to start is with a basic grain like oatmeal. If you currently buy breakfast cereals then replacing this with oatmeal or granola is a huge cost savings. If you would like other recipes for using oats I have a nice list of ideas and recipes here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/25lboats.htm
Now it is time to move on to a really big cost saver and that is.. beans! I canít begin to say how much I have helped our grocery budget over the years by learning how to cook and use beans. Beans are inexpensive and full of nutrition. Many people donít like beans or donít really know what to do with them beyond making chili. I have created many bean recipes over the years that are creative and delicious. You can find some of them here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/beanrecipes.htm If you need more ideas I have an article on what can be done with a 25lb bag of beans here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/25lbsbeans.htm I have also written an ebook on cooking with beans that has step by step instructions, with pictures, on how to cook a delicious pot of beans. The ebook has even more recipes and a few photo tutorials to walk you through some of our favorite recipes. You can find more info on this here: http://crystalscountrystore.com/cookingwithbeansebook.htm
Another easy grain to incorporate into your diet is brown rice. Brown rice is so good for you! Switching from white rice to brown rice is often one of the hardest transitions to make for some. But I have some advice on how to make this transition here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/enjoyingbrownricel.htm Plus another nice list of ideas and recipes here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/brownricegrocerybudget.htm
When learning how to incorporate healthy bulk foods to your diet remember to start slowly. Make goals to try and add something new to your familyís menu each week. Try incorporating these bulk foods into your own recipes to make the transition a little more familiar to your family. And then you can begin to reap the health benefits as well as the savings to your grocery bill.
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