I agree. Healthy foods do not have to cost more. Much of the cost of foods is related to packaging – not just the wrapping itself, but the people needed to do this job. Therefore, to cut out this “packaging cost,” buy in bulk, preferably bulk organic foods, which ranges from all produce to nuts, seeds, grains, dried fruits; teas, herbs and spices. While organic-bulk may cost slightly more than non-organic bulk, organic bulk is still less expensive than non-organic packaged foods.
Let’s start with bulk or loose organic produce. The great thing about buying items in bulk is that you buy what you need, so that with a little thought involved, little is wasted. It won’t sit rotting in your fridge because you bought too much. There is also evidence that the nutritional content of organic foods is higher, because the product hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides; the soil hasn’t been contaminated with fungicides; and the seeds are virgin, not adulterated with genetically modified God knows what. So you know that what you are getting is a real product, grown from a real seed in honest soil. That fact alone will ultimately save you money if you make a practice of eating organically on a daily basis – you will feel better because chances are, your immune system is stronger.You are what you eat.
Years ago, while shopping in an organic food store in NYC, someone told me that if you could only afford to buy one or two organic items (in bulk), that I should choose the bright orange carrots and the brown rice. Carrots because of their high beta-carotene content and brown rice because it is a whole grain and mixing it with beans makes a complete protein, or so I was told. To this day, I still buy them. For less than a dollar, I can buy three or four good-sized carrots. Grate the carrots for a salad, eat them raw alone or with a little olive oil, or cook them in a stew or soup. Organic brown rice (I prefer the long-grain to the sweeter short-grain) is great with any kind of beans or lentils cooked with some garlic. A while back I was walking my dog and I met a woman from the other side of the state doing the same thing I was. She shared with me that her hybrid-wolf-puppy-dog refused to eat dog food. I told her to give that little wolf some brown rice and beans, because all canines love beans. She called me a week later to tell me that it worked and now cooks up a batch in advance, then freezes daily portions for her pooch. She never has to buy dog food. .
Flax seeds bought in bulk are great for your digestive tract and I buy mine toasted. Eat with with a piece of fruit. Lots of great roughage there. If you buy sesame seeds in bulk, try them with grilled tofu (tofu blocks are sometimes sold loose (i.e. in bulk) in water containers at many health food stores in the tofu section). Baste the tofu with some Braggs Amino Acids mixed with olive oil, garlic and a little paprika or red pepper flakes, also bought in bulk. Very tasty and nutritious.
Have you had a look recently at organic red-leaf lettuce? Gorgeous! Why pay more for packaging, just drop that beauty in a recycled plastic bag.
When I shop on a budget I think: Whole grains, seeds and/nuts; green veggies and a yellow fruit or vegetable.
The least expensive bulk items are the spices and the teas. Usually they are pretty much in the same section of the store. The teas sold are green (several kinds) and black tea – (also Chai tea which is a combination of Eastern spices). I prefer the heavenly green Earl Grey Tea that is full of antioxidants, as with all organic green teas. The great thing about buying bulk organic teas (whether green or black) is that the leaves are still pretty whole – that is, they haven’t been ground or pulverized and packaged into tea bags. At a friend’s house, I was offered some packaged green tea and while the packaging was really snazzy, the tea itself was flat, bland, or shall I say, dead. Instead, try the bulk organic green tea and add a thin slice of raw ginger to it first thing when you pour it. Let the tea steep about ten minutes in the nearly boiled water. Now pour it. You will feel wide awake, alert, focused, smart and energized. There is a world of difference between the packaged non-organic stuff and the real thing. I know, I drink the bulk organic green tea almost daily. It has less caffeine than coffee but the leaves have B-vitamins for energy.
About once a week I enjoy having some coffee. At a supermarket that sells foreign items, I buy cheap Cuban Expresso in a can, then mix it when I’m ready to use it, with organic chicory sold at a health food store. One teaspoon of each to a drip bag. Boil the water and let it drip into a pint-size jar. This is a strong and fairly inexpensive morning buzz allowing me to get more caffeine, that wonderful coffee aroma along with the nutritional benefits of the Chicory.
Buying spices or herbs in bulk is a great money saver, because spices bought in those little tin containers are expensive. Instead, buying in bulk allows you to buy many different kinds of spices – turmeric, delicious on your brown rice; fragrance your potatoes and meats with rosemary; top your beans with tarragon and cheese; marry the oregano with your tomato sauce; sprinkle some holy basil on your eggs; bake your wild salmon with some thyme and so on. For under five dollars, you’ll be able to buy small amounts of several different herbs in bulk and it would cost you about six or even times this much than if you bought these items packaged, especially in tins or plastic containers.
So next time you’re on a budget, walk into a health food store with ten, only ten dollars, head for the bulk section and see just how far your dollar stretches.