It’s super common—even among non-card carrying Costco members—to buy items like toilet paper, tampons, and soap in bulk, but for some reason, the same logic doesn’t often carry over to healthy food staples. Some believe that in order for something to be healthy that it has to be bought fresh, and therefore buying in bulk doesn’t really apply. But it turns out that this isn’t always true.
According to The Conscious Dietitian blogger Rachel Dickens, RD, it’s actually cheaper and more sustainable to buy healthy bulk foods. Here, she gives the five she recommends to buy this way
5 bulk foods a sustainable dietitian recommends
1. pumpkin seeds
While you’ll often find pumpkin seeds sold in little bags, Dickens recommends buying them in bulk because they don’t go bad and it’s an easy way to add more zinc into your diet, which she says most people don’t get enough of. “I love making pumpkin seed butter for a big dose of these healthy seeds,” she says. “I love buying my pumpkin seeds in bulk so I can make big batches of pumpkin seed butter to add to my smoothies, toast or just eat it by the spoon.” Giving your morning smoothie the pumpkin pie treatment? Done.
“Canned foods, [including chickpeas] are often lined with BPA, which is a known endocrine disruptor, so I like purchasing dried chickpeas in bulk instead,” Dickens says. To cook with them she recommends soaking the dried chickpeas in water for 24 hours, draining the water, and boiling them for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the chickpeas are tender. “Make a large batch and freeze the rest for later,” she says.
3. black rice
Like pumpkin seeds, Dickens says this is another food often found in small packages in grocery stores, but it’s one that pays (literally) to buy in bulk. “This super nutritious grain should be purchased in bulk so it can always be had on hand,” she says. “Black rice is not only higher in fiber than white rice, it also contains the potent antioxidant anthocyanin—the same antioxidant attributed to blueberries health benefits.” Who doesn’t need more fiber, am I right?
“Sustainable almonds, grown on heirloom trees without the use of pesticides or herbicides can be purchased in bulk giving a better option compared to conventionally grown almonds,” Dickens says. When you have them on hand in abundance, she says you can use them to make your own almond butter and cut down on glass packaging, placing less weight on transportation costs and resources. And it’s easier than you may think to make your own almond milk, which, as a bonus, won’t have any fillers or extra ingredients in it if you make it yourself versus buying it.
Dickens likes this plant-based protein because it’s versatile enough to be added to almost anything, including soups, curries, and salads. “Canned lentils are often higher in sodium, more processed—so quicker to digest—and come in BPA lined cans,” she says. “Purchasing dried lentils in bulk cuts down on aluminum can use, and ensures this healthy plant-based protein option is always on hand.”
Speaking of healthy grocery shopping, this is what to buy organic:
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