So I love to eat healthy foods. I also like to go on trips. I also like to think about saving up for future life events. I also like to go thrifting. I definitely also like to experience things that always cost money, like paddleboarding on the Puget Sound, or going to the zoo. Fact: I have to eat to live. Fact: My job only pays so much. Fact: I like to buy organic. Problem: Organic foods are expensive. Problem: We have a limited budget for groceries. Problem: I’d rather spend money on all of those other things than on food, but, see fact 1. Thankfully, I don’t give up easily and there is a way to have my quinoa and paddleboard too.
The solution to my money, grocery dilemma is: BULK. Important note: I DON’T MEAN COSTCO. I don’t think you need that much mayonnaise, EVER! The kind of bulk I’m talking about is that aisle in the grocery store lined with clear bins full of the same products in those other aisles, but without all of the packaging and processing. This is a double win for me. On one hand, it’s way cheaper. On the other hand, it produces less waste because there’s less packaging. Right now I just want to talk about the cheap hand. By buying in bulk, you choose how much you spend. The price per pound is what you’re looking for. In most cases, the price per pound is cheaper in bulk than it would be as a packaged product. In my eyes, my bulk raisin purchase gets me one step closer to seeing my favorite zoo animal: the pudu (tiny deer, I repeat, it’s a tiny deer; like cat sized, but it’s A DEER). You can look at saving money however you like, though; I mean if tigers are more your thing, that’s grrrrrrreat.
What’s in those bulk bins? A lot more options than you think! The basic groups most bulk aisles cover are: nuts, grains, dry baking goods, dried fruits, seeds, pasta, beans, granola, nut butters, oils, candy, spices (huge money saver), dry mixes, protein powders and snacks. From what I have noticed, most grocery stores are providing a well stocked bulk section with a vast variety of options. If you’re lucky, your store might even offer bulk bathroom supplies, like shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion. If so, hit that up! It’s just more money at the zoo. From quinoa and rice to black beans and lentils, you can make the majority of a meal from the ingredients in the bulk aisle. Don’t be afraid of it. It does require a bit more of your time; meaning you have to open a bag, scoop out some flour and write down a number on a twist tie. You can do that, trust me. Your effort will pay off when it comes time to slide your plastic.
An important lesson you should learn before you bulk buy: most bulk items are dried goods, which means they require additional prep come meal time. This may sound daunting, but when I say additional time, most of that time doesn’t require you doing anything. For example, you can buy garbanzo beans in bulk, they come dried and you take them home and let them sit in water overnight until they have absorbed it all. End product: a lot of garbanzo beans. Your effort: pouring cold water over a bowl of beans and setting it somewhere where your cats won’t drink it. A similar process is used for all other types of beans, rices, lentils and grains; just add water! So like I said, don’t be afraid, you can do it.
Overall, when I’m making a meal for my husband and I, I enjoy the process. This has been a learned likeness. Once I got a better understanding of what I was eating, I looked forward to putting it all together. Our culture of fast food takes away the pleasure you get, and I must say the smaller waist line, from preparing your meals. Buying in bulk not only saves us money, but it engages us with what we’re eating. You’re not buying a boxed meal, you’re buying ingredients that you put together to create something delicious. Happy bulk buying and money saving! I’ll be at the zoo.