It's ok; admit it. Lacking ingredients for a quick and healthy homemade meal is often the number one reason you turn to frozen or fast food. A stocked pantry transforms a kitchen into a creative way to connect with our food year round. While our produce options change with the seasons, staple foods like whole grains and beans, spices and baking ingredients are always useful.
Buying in bulk can help keep your diet healthy and it can decrease your food costs too. Try these tips:
Create a system: It's easy to get lost in the cupboard if bags are hidden underneath bottles and boxes. Put all your dry staples into jars. You can purchase nice sets for relatively cheap or reuse juice, preserves, nut butter or pickle jars for your beans, grains, flours and spices. Though most can keep indefinitely, label and date them each time you refill. Organize your shelves to contain like items—grains and beans, flours, seeds, spices, are all easier to find if you narrow them down to their own shelves.
Keep staples year round: Grains such as rice, quinoa, millet and bulghur are always key for fast meals. Ditch the canned beans and stock up on the real deal. They're a lot cheaper and healthier, and after soaking overnight, they cook in an hour or two while you're doing a million other things. Got the baking bug? You only need a few items to make a batch of cookies or pancakes on a Sunday morning.
Buy on deal: Bulk food sections of stores will often have items on special—take advantage. You'll thank yourself later when you turn those sunflower seeds, coconut shreds and oatmeal into tasty homemade granola on a snow day.
Buy the case: Bulk bins can look a little scary sometimes. A lot of bulk items come in 5 or 10-pound bags before they're dumped into the store bins. If you go through a lot of something, just ask to buy the whole box. Some stores even offer a discount when you buy the case.
The freezer is your friend: Canned vegetables have virtually no nutritional value. But freezing can preserve vital nutrients. Whether there's a great deal at the market or you just happen to stumble on a blueberry patch, keeping a selection of fruits and veggies in the freezer will definitely come in handy whether you're sick, snowed in or just don't feel like leaving the house.
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