Friday, October 1, 2010

Buy in bulk!

One staple of my pantry and life in general is bulk food. Over the last 2 years I have accumulated quite a variety of bulk beans and grains, and the beauty of it is that they just don't go bad.

Wheat Berries. Chickpeas. Lentils. Azuki Beans. Butternut Squash?

Bulk food is a great way to save money because not only are you not paying for the packaging, marketing, and advertising that goes into most commercial products (think Rice-o-roni), but you can also buy the EXACT amount of food you need. A recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of flour? You can buy 2 tablespoons of flour!

  • 40-50% of all food ready for harvest never gets eaten
  • On average, households waste 14% of their food purchases
  • 15% of that includes products still within their expiration date but never opened
  • An average family of four currently tosses out $590 per year, just in meat, fruits, vegetables and grain products
Cutting food waste would go a long way toward reducing serious environmental problems. The same study estimates that reducing food waste by half could reduce adverse environmental impacts by 25% through reduced landfill use, soil depletion and applications of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.

Not to mention the environmental impacts of reducing packaging waste. That means bring your own bags/jars/containers when you're grocery shopping! So hit up the People's Food Co-op, By the Pound, or even Whole Foods to save money and reduce your impact.

The inspiration of this post is my late night task yesterday of cooking wheat berries. These were a part of my pre-challenge food stash but was actually local as well. I bought this bag at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market over the summer from Ernst Farm (they also sell flax seeds, whole wheat flour and corn meal).

Cooking grains may take a bit of time but it is a pretty mindless task and takes little to no culinary skills.

Grain Cooking Chart from GNOWFGLINS
Brown Rice (long grain)2 cups35 to 45 minutes3 1/2 cups
Brown Rice (short grain)2 cups35 to 45 minutes3 3/4 cups
Brown Basmati Rice2 cups45 to 50 minutes4 cups
Brown Jasmine Rice2 cups45 to 50 minutes4 cups
Black Japonica Rice2 cups45 minutes3 1/2 cups
Wehani Rice2 cups45 minutes3 cups
Wild Rice2 1/2 cups1 1/4 hours4 cups
Manitok Wild Rice2 1/2 cups50 to 60 minutes4 cups
Amaranth1 1/2 cups25 minutes2 cups
Barley, Hulled3 cups1 3/4 hours4 cups
Barley, Pearl2 cups1 1/2 hours4 cups
Buckwheat/Kasha1 1/2 cups10 minutes3 1/2 cups
*Bulgur1 1/2 cups30 to 40 minutes3 cups
Cracked Wheat2 1/2 cups7 to 10 minutes3 1/2 cups
Cornmeal (Polenta)2 1/2 cups10 minutes3 1/2 cups
Couscous1 1/4 cups10 minutes2 3/4 cups
Kamut2 1/2 cups1 3/4 hours2 1/2 cups
Millet2 cups25 minutes3 1/2 cups
Oat Groats2 1/2 cups35 to 40 minutes2 1/2 cups
**Quinoa2 cups25 to 30 minutes4 cups
Rye Berries2 1/2 cups1 1/4 hours2 1/2 cups
Spelt1 1/2 cups50 to 60 minutes2 cups
Teff3 cups15 minutes3 cups
Triticale2 1/2 cups1 1/2 hours3 cups
Wheat Berries, Hard (Red)2 cups2 hours3 cups
Wheat Berries, Soft (White)2 cups1 1/2 hours3 1/2 cups
*Soak, don't cook.
**Rinse first.

My method is to cook a large batch (last night it ended up being 5 cups), store it in the fridge, and add more ingredients to individual servings. This makes it so I don't get bored of a week's worth of wheat berries. Plus it makes it very easy to use up all that fresh, local produce I have in my fridge. Sauteed veggies, roasted nuts, beans, dried fruit, herbs and spices all taste great with whole grains so you really can't go wrong...

1 comment:

  1. Gimme wheat berries! cute photo. I'm soaking a jar of them today to sprout for some rejuvelac.
    You are smart to cook big batches of grains. If you make a stir fry here is a flavorful way to reheat the precooked rice. cook the veggies till tender and towards the end add the precooked rice with a little water turn down the heat cover to steam them with the veggies and its juices.