The Verdict | Dry Bulk Goods

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I am constantly re-evaluating my bulk goods usage. Using my bulk goods to determine whether or not its worth keeping things in my pantry and recently conclusions have been reached. Let’s begin with the Mason Jars.

1. Red Lentils: Keep

I constantly make a dish with red lentils once a month. They are easy to make, can be used in many ways and are great fillers for meals. I have been through two jars, I currently only have a 1/3 of a third jar left, so I will continue to keep Red Lentils as  part of my bulk food storage.

2. Chickpeas: Re-purpose

I do not soak and cook beans enough to justify their place in a Mason Jar. I more frequently use canned beans because I usually make beans on impulse. I do eat beans a couple of times a month, all different kinds. Resultantly, the beans in my jars rarely get used. Meaning, it makes more sense for me to keep canned beans in my pantry.

3. Popcorn: Keep

This one is a must!  really do eat quite a bit of popcorn and I may buy a large Mason Jar for popcorn storage because I find myself filling my current Mason Jar quite frequently. Its definitely a must have for me.

4. Kidney Beans: Re-purpose

Its the same story here. I like beans and eat them frequently enough, but I rarely soak and cook beans. I will keep canned Kidney Beans on hand, but once these are done, I will put something else in this jar.

6. Wasabi Peas: Keep

I consistently put Wasabi Peas in my homemade trail mix. Its a must! No way will I stop eating this sweet treat, so I will keep my little jar stocked up.

7. Pasta & Rice: Keep

I have brown rice, brown Basmati Rice, and brown rice pasta. All of these work well for me. When I make saucy chicken dishes, Basmati Rice is ideal. When I make dishes where I just need a filling grain side, I read for brown rice or quinoa. I make a pasta dish every couple of weeks with whatever type of pasta I have, and I always try to keep red sauce and spaghetti on hand for last minute food ideas. I also keep Egg Noodles on handle for my frequent impromptu Chicken Noodle soup.

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8. Israeli Couscous: Re-purpose

This jar is just about as full as it originally was. I need to purposefully use that couscous and then not purchase it again. I simply find myself going for the Semolina version of Couscous with much more frequency than I do the large round ball option (Israeli option). Thusly, I will replace that with hemp hearts once I run out.

9. Couscous (Semolina): Keep

I like this version of couscous because it truly takes flavor quite well. Just needs the addition of hot water to be ready for consumption and lasts longer because it is such a fine grainy substance.

10. Quinoa: Keep

I had tri-color Quinoa, and then I move to just one color, but either way, Quinoa is a must in my pantry. Its a great grain that soaks up flavor, is packed with nutrition and is filling. Yep, I will keep this stocked in my pantry.

11. Rolled Oats: Keep

Yea, I need these in my life. Its funny because I do not Oatmeal. Cooked oats does not appeal to me, its a consistency issue. However, raw oats in Yogurt equals breakfast perfection, lunch ease, and a tasty sweet snack. I have yet to get the courage to put oats in my smoothies, maybe one day.

12. Milled Flaxseed: Re-purpose

I prefer to get my flax in Omega pills or by chewable vitamins. I rarely put this in my smoothies because I do not like the affect it has on the taste of my smoothie. Its not nearly as cheap as everything else in my bulk food storage, so I am going to use that jar for something else in the future.

12. Chia Seeds: Keep

I almost always add a tablespoon of Chia seeds to my cream of wheat and my green smoothies. They are so filling, filled with nutrients, and, are for the most part, flavorless.

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So I’m keeping a little over half of the items in my bulk storage and re-purposing the jars for the rest of the items. If I see anything else I want to try, I will, but of the moment, the only swap will be hemp hearts.

 

 

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My Pantry Staples

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I have spent a good portion of the year developing MY pantry staples, determined by what I actually eat. I mostly refill my pantry from the bulk foods section of my local health food stores. I refill the spice containers with spices bought from my local Indian Store as well as the bulk food section of my local health food store.

M y Pantry

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Left to right: Quinoa, Milled Flaxseed, Israeli Couscous, Rolled Oats, Semolina, Chia Seeds

Once I run out of Milled Flaxseed I will replace it with Hemp Hearts. I prefer to get my Omegas from nuts and fish oil pills. I put the milled Flaxseed in my smoothies, plus it does take away from the great taste just a little.

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Top From left to right: Red Lentils, Chick peas, Popcorn, Kidney Beans, Wheat Farina, Wasabi Peas
Bottom From left to right: Brown Rice Rotini, Egg Noodles, Brown Basmati Rice, Brown Rice, Brown Rice Spaghetti, Brown Rice Angel Hair Pasta

You may have noticed that I now have a brown rice arsenal! I enjoy pasta and brown rice is often a perfect side dish, so I keep it all stocked. I am in love with brown rice pasta as a healthy tasty alternative that just soaks up sauce.

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Canisters: All purpose flour, brown sugar, rock sugar, tea. Lazy susans: spices, sauces, vinagrettes, Coconut oil, Olive oil. Bottom: Spices

There really isn’t anything more important in my kitchen than my spice arsenal. There is no better way to compliment your meats, vegetables, soups, stews, etc than with spice. Like I stated above, I buy a spice from the grocery store and once that container is empty, I replace it with spices from my local indian grocery or health food store. I find that those spices have more intense flavor and the containers provided at the grocery store last forever. Plus I do not have to buy separate expensive spice jars, nope, I recycle and reuse. About a month ago I did a spice overhaul in which I wrote down my most used spices and got rid of the expired ones. If I need a spice that I rarely use, I just go buy a tablespoon or two in the bulk foods section and use it up, so that no spice in my pantry expires. Let me know if you want a full listing of my spices and how I use them.

Not pictured are my stash of nuts, and cans. The cans include tomato paste, whole tomatoes, curry sauce, garbanzo beans, black beans and vegetable broth. The current nuts are sunflower seeds and almonds.

I am so happy with my pantry now, it truly supports healthy habits. There is no candy stash, no sugary cereal stash, no juice stash, no cans of soup, no cans of fruit, etc. It took over half of a year, but I now have a pantry that supports healthy eating habits. I am still working on my refrigerator staples, just when I think I have a good base, I change something, that may take all year.

Snacking at Work

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I wrote a post awhile back discussing how and what I am taking to lunch these days. Well, I feel that the snacks I take are just as important, so as promised my work snack:

snack

My lunch consists of an entree + a vegetable and fruit side (1/2 portion each). Naturally, I usually do  not get through all of that food during lunch as my entree is always pretty hearty and filling, but I do eat some of the sides. Later, when I get hungry again I tend to finish the sides, but I am still a little hungry and this is when my snack comes into play. As you may be able to tell above, my snack is nuts, seeds and wasabi peas. Why?

Well, I should really eat nuts and seeds every day as they are full of Omegas, protein, fiber and other vitamins, however it has been hard figuring out how to get them in alongside everything else you are supposed to ingest each day. I thought to myself, what better way to ensure I get my Omega’s each day than to take them as a mixed nut snack. So I put together a portion of nuts, a portion of seeds and wasabi peas because I like a little bite and sugar in my nut mixes.  The nuts I like to keep around are Peanuts, Almonds, Pecans or Walnuts. The seeds I tend to go for are Sunflower or Pumpkin (I want to try flax, but I’m scared!). I keep myself stocked up on Wasabi peas by way of the bulk foods section in health food stores. I do not add any dried fruits because I bring fresh fruit with me and that would just drive up the cost.

I do not actively go for a certain number or a certain measurement of nuts. I just grab, mix and go, resulting in about 4 ounces of the mix. I find it quite satisfying and since I change up the nut or seed when one runs out, the mix continues to hold my interest. So, I will add this change to the list, now I regularly eat Nuts and Seeds. Can you tell that I feel proud of myself 🙂

What’s In the Mason Jars?

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My Grains, Beans & Seeds

 

From left to right: Flaxseed Mill, Chia Seeds, French Couscous, Israeli Couscous, Tri-Color Quinoa, Rolled Oats, Red Lentils, Garbanzo Beans, and the last two are popcorn. I plan to buy a large airtight container for the popcorn, I have so much that my quart Mason Jar’s are just too small. I do go through a whole lot of popcorn as it is one of my favorite snacks, so I must accommodate its quantity in my life by getting a large/long jar. Putting everything in Mason Jars is one way to get these foods out of the bulk bags and into preservative storage. I also make sure to use something from a Mason Jar with each meal, for example today:

Meal 1: Cream of Wheat + 1 tbsp Chia Seeds

Meal 2: Turkey Sandwich + Vegetable Stew (includes garbanzo beans)

Meal 3: Green Smoothie with 2 tbsp Flaxseed Mill

Meal 4 (in the oven right now): Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, 1/2 cup Israeli Couscous, Asparagus & a Sweet Potato

Before I put everything in the Jars, it was an out of sight out of mind situation, now that everything is in the jars, I simply take a peep at them and make a choice of what to use. I bought a box of 12 Jars from Walmart and I do plan to use them all eventually as part of challenging myself to eat healthier. I will be emptying the popcorn jars, so I will have 4 empty jars. So far I plan to put kidney beans in one of them and my own cream of wheat mixture in another, other than that I do not know what to put in the last two jars. Any suggestions?