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Bulk Pantry Staples

A well-stocked pantry helps us feel secure in our homes and opens up our from-scratch cooking to more interesting and healthier possibilities. But beyond these obvious benefits, the advantages of buying in bulk also include saving money, reducing waste and enjoying a better, fresher product.

To help you build your bulk pantry, we divided the bulk section at your natural foods store or co-op into three sections:

Food Staples

  • Select long-storing whole grains, beans, split peas, lentils, quinoa, whole nuts, salt, sugar and seeds like pepitas, flax and chia. Also, look for rice and even pasta.
  • Buy lesser amounts more regularly of more processed bulk items like flours, freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, nut meats, and cereals, such as oatmeal.
  • Store your bulk food products in larger glass canisters so you can easily find the staples that you are looking for. Try the old Amish trick of storing a few dried bay leaves in each container to help protect and preserve the contents in storage.

Spices and Seasoning Blends

  • Select basic go-to spices that appear in a wide variety of dishes and ethnic cuisines, like black pepper, cayenne, oregano, thyme, cumin and ginger. Select basic blends that correspond to your oft-served dishes like Italian or pizza seasoning, Mexican, Asian or BBQ seasoning blends.
  • Experiment with new spices and seasoning blends by purchasing a small amount to start.
  • Buy smaller amounts of spices and seasoning blends and replace them yearly in order to utilize their full flavoring potential.
  • Store spices in airtight tins or glass canisters with firm-fitting lids to block out light. Spices and seasonings contain volatile, essential flavor oils which can change and evaporate over time if not stored properly.
  • Dedicate one tin or jar to each spice and affix a clear label so that you can easily identify each without having to open the lid.

Herbs and Tea

  • Select basic herbs and tea, like chamomile flowers, lemon verbena leaves and hibiscus flowers. Choose a basic Irish or English breakfast tea for black tea and a good basic green tea such as Japanese sencha and bancha or a Chinese green such as dragonwell or gunpowder.
  • Evaluate herbs that are used in body care or home remedies on a case-by-case basis as to how best to store them and how often to replace.
  • Store delicate herbs like lavender flowers or calendula petals in airtight containers and replace yearly.
  • Replace sturdier dried barks, roots clay powders and bath salts after one to two years.
  • Store all teas in airtight, clearly labeled tins. Teas are perhaps the most delicate bulk commodity. Black teas are a bit more stable than green teas but all teas should be replaced yearly.

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