6 Foods to Grab from the Bulk Section (and Why)
In addition to being a meal prep maven, I’ve also become increasingly frugal in my late 20s. Yes, we eat a whole food diet, but NOPE, we don’t spend any more on groceries than the standard American. That’s because my husband and I have mastered whole-food grocery shopping while staying within our means.
We steer clear of Whole Foods (tiny violin solo)
We clip coupons
We buy meat in bulk and freeze it
We grocery shop with a plan
We reduce food waste by eating our meal prep
We buy from the bulk section
Check out this post for all of my money-saving strategies
For today, I want to share six foods with you that you should never pull off the shelf. For some reason, these items skyrocket in cost when they’re wrapped in plastic or boxed. Get friendly with the bulk section of your grocery store, instead. Bulk foods are the WAY TO GO for meal prep staple foods, snacks, and even healthy fats. Are you ready to save big?!
Grains like quinoa, oats, and rice
We cook quinoa almost every week (usually in the Instant Pot, couldn’t be easier!) But instead of buying 16 ounces boxed for $4.99, we purchase a pound of it for less than $2 from the bulk section. Most grocers even offer tricolor, red, and whole grain quinoa options so you can have extra options!
Boxed quinoa is sometimes sold by volume instead of weight, so you are really saving in bulk since everything’s measured by weight.
The same principle goes for oats and rice. Oats cost no more than $2 PER POUND in bulk and they last for months when stored in a cool, dry place.
(particularly those you don’t use often)
I like to give the example of bay leaves. Bay leaves aren’t something we always have on-hand, but if we make a roast or a batch of soup, it’s nice to throw in one or two. On the shelf, bay leaves cost $3.99 or more for a glass jar of eight. In the bulk section, they’re sold by the pound. Eight bay leaves would run you about 75 cents. WIN.
Nuts and seeds
Some nuts (like macadamia or pine nuts) are very expensive—even if you buy them bulk. Nonetheless, you will save some dough choosing to buy bulk. Because they’re sold by weight instead of volume, you will always get more bang for your buck. Two nuts we almost always have on hand are almond slivers (for salads/toppings) and cashews (for vegan sauces and eating raw).
The best thing about bulk nut butter is that you watch it being made! Most grocery stores have nut butter grinders that process raw almonds or peanuts into butter before your eyes. No added canola oil, no added sugar, just whole ingredients.
If you want to spice up your nut butter (literally), try bringing it home and adding your own cinnamon or local honey. That way, you can control what’s inside and cater it to your preferences.
Nutty, cheesy, and incredibly nutritious. Nutritional yeast looks like fish flakes (sounds delicious, huh?) and it’s loaded with 9 grams of protein and a sucker punch of B vitamins. In the bulk section, nutritional yeast is also sold by the pound. It’s incredibly light and you probably won’t even need a whole pound.
How to use nutritional yeast:
Stir it into mac & cheese
Stir it into soup or chili
Sprinkle it on popcorn
Make vegan sauces
Whiz it into blender soup (like my golden cauliflower soup)
Honey (if you’re lucky)
Some grocery stores also have local honey in the bulk section. While the price might be comparable to jarred honey on the shelf, the value of real, local honey is worth the price. Recent studies suggest that local honey may help prevent seasonal allergies!
Let’s Talk About Reducing
plastic + waste
Okay, this isn’t an environmental blog or anything, but like many of us, I am trying to be better about plastic consumption and contributing to unnecessary waste.
If this is something you value, then bulk is 100% the way to go. Less plastic, less packaging, and all the good stuff. You can get really into it and even bring your own containers and reusable bags to the grocery store. Some of my faves are linked below.