Whole Story

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Cooking for One - Bulk Isn’t "A Lot"

By Jaye Joseph, April 29, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Jaye Joseph
It used to be that when I thought of bulk foods, I thought of one of those giant membership warehouses where I could buy a case of pretzels or a gross of cheese balls, but Whole Foods Market has changed that way of thinking for me. Now when I think of bulk foods, I think of buying only what I need of healthy foods like quinoa, brown rice, corn meal or raw nuts. If you’re cooking for one, chances are you don’t need a pound of pecans for that salad you’re making. That’s where the bulk foods department comes in handy. I can just fill a bag with the exact amount of pecans I need to top my salad. Likewise, if I decide I’m going to make some cookies that call for cream of tartar, I can just get a teaspoon in the bulk spice area and not have to buy a full jar, which I may very well never use again. Buy only what you need for what your cooking and you won’t be stuck with a cabinet full of spice jars that go with you every time you move (confession, I just cleaned out spices that have been through over five moves). The bonus is that you’ll pay merely pennies for that little baggie of oregano as opposed to dollars for that jar that takes up space in your cabinet. Similar to the bulk foods department, the salad bar as well as the antipasti bar can be a huge boon for singular cooking. Need some mushrooms for that stir-fry or omelet but don’t need a full package? Pick up some pre-sliced mushrooms from the salad bar. How about a little marinated feta and some Kalamata olives on top of a piece of tilapia? Simple and affordable from the antipasti bar. And with the new grain options seen on many of our salad bars, you can get just what you need of a plain grain and dress it up at home with things you have on hand rather than having to cook a batch you might only eat half of. I think you probably get the idea here: buy just what you need and you’ll save time and money. Here are some other ideas for bulk/salad bar cooking:
  • Season a chicken breast with chili powder, garlic powder and paprika; bake or sauté and top with a squeeze of lime.
  • Combine thyme, salt and pepper to season a piece of chicken, and then roast until done.
  • Make a paste of oregano, feta cheese and Kalamata olives, spread on top of a piece of tilapia and broil until done. Finish with a squeeze of lemon.
  • Pick up a serving of cooked quinoa or another favorite grain from the salad bar. Add some chopped peppers, spinach, onion, vinegar of your choice and a few garbanzo beans for a healthy one-dish meal.
Now that you’re armed with some good starter tips, and the knowledge that bulk doesn’t have to mean “a lot,” what are some of your favorite creative ways to use the bulk department, antipasti bar and salad bar in cooking for one? I’d love to try out some fresh ideas.
Category: Food & Recipes




Sarah Walraven says ...
This is exactly what I've been telling my friends about WFM. I cook for just my husband and myself, and being able to purchase small amounts of things I need instead of whole containers is what allows us to shop at Whole Foods on our budget. For example, I love seafood but can't afford to use it as a main, so being able to purchase half a pound of shrimp to add to a stir fry makes me a very happy girl. :)
04/30/2010 3:27:25 PM CDT
screwdestiny says ...
That is SUCH a fantastic idea. I would really love if my local grocery stores gave me the option to buy smaller portions of some of the foods/spices I need. I'm constantly finding myself wasting food because I use a little and then forget about the other 75% of the package.
05/01/2010 12:24:24 AM CDT
Christina says ...
This is a great article. Does Whole Foods have bulk spices available? Thanks.
05/05/2010 3:27:26 PM CDT
Ann says ...
Do you have the recipe for that yummy-looking dish of beans and bulgar (couscous?)?
05/05/2010 4:27:05 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Christina Yes, we do carry bulk spices in most stores.
05/05/2010 4:36:57 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Ann We sure do. That's actually couscous and here's the recipe link: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/2553 Enjoy!
05/05/2010 4:39:46 PM CDT
Melanie says ...
Great suggestions! I would not have thought about using the salad bar that way.
05/05/2010 8:21:45 PM CDT
leia says ...
One of the millions of reasons I love WFM! I constantly buy little things off the salad bar. Why buy a huge (and costly) head of red cabbage when I just need a little for my fish tacos? Plus, I'm lazy and I can skip the chopping ;-)
05/11/2010 2:36:50 PM CDT
Elizabeth says ...
Great article and suggestions; you've changed my way of thinking about WFM.
05/12/2010 6:40:06 PM CDT
Gwen says ...
I would love to buy spices in bulk but unfortunately my store doesnt have that feature. Please institute that in all your stores. Thanks
05/12/2010 7:23:54 PM CDT
PJ says ...
I love buying bulk from Whole Foods. As and example, I bought a few bay leaves the other day for $.20. I don't use many, so this is just a great way to go. Also bulk cereal, steel cut oats, etc. are a great value.
05/12/2010 7:54:31 PM CDT
Catherine says ...
Thanks so much for this! Please include many more articles for single folks. We have felt so left out! How great that WF is keeping us in mind.
05/12/2010 11:38:16 PM CDT
Hazel Watson says ...
I really enjoyed your article on cooking for one! I hadn't thought of buying very small amounts just for single servings from the bulk food section, or buying precooked grains or single items from the salad bar either. I am a kind of experimental cook, and this means I can do a great deal of experimenting at relatively small cost. Thanx for the ideas!
05/13/2010 8:17:58 AM CDT
Cheryl binkley says ...
Thanks! I have used the bulk items many times to try just a litte of something but always felt "funny" checking out with such a small amount of something. Now I can check out with my head held high knowing I am both both practical and thrifty!! I no longer keep a collection of cook books so please publish more of those yummy reciepts ...
05/13/2010 10:12:33 AM CDT
Linda says ...
Love the article! I am going to look for bulk spices the next time I am at Whole Foods.
05/13/2010 1:50:25 PM CDT
Cat says ...
I love the bulk section at WF but I so wish all the stores had more consistent-sized ones. At some they have spices and teas and flours and at others I'm lucky to find even nuts. Please expand your bulk food sections!
05/13/2010 6:55:11 PM CDT
Sarah Galarza says ...
Wow! A great idea. I love to cook but cooking for one again is hard because I hate to waste the extra. I intend to eat the leftovers but honestly some things are just not as good the 3rd or 4th time around. Did I say I have a hard time cooking small portions? :) Thanks for the great suggestions. Now I will eat better instead of just grabbing a snack.
05/13/2010 6:56:03 PM CDT
Monica says ...
Well done wholefoods! I love & trust your products, especially the fresh organic vegetables & fruits & grassfed beef. I too would welcome pastured pork, lamb, chicken & eggs. I & many others, would welcome a Wholefoods store in Cumming, Georgia. There is money here. Currently, we have to fight the traffic to get to Duluth or Harry's in Alpharetta. Please consider it. Best wishes for the future.
06/05/2010 4:11:46 PM CDT
Lizliterarius says ...
I love bulk food buying! There's nothing like it when you're cooking for one or two, is there? You can also check out http://makinglifeup.blogspot.com/ for great variations on basic baked chicken and rice. By switching up the flavoring every night, you never realize your eating leftovers...and only cooking once! GREAT for busy weeks...and we all have them! :)
06/21/2010 12:36:55 AM CDT
Chris says ...
What a great idea! Our Whole Foods just opened, and I was very impressed with the salad bar when I stopped in to try it this week. I'll now also keep it in mind as a resource for cooking for one! A question ... I just recently started a diet and am watching calories. Is there calorie information anywhere for the soups and other items on the antipasti bar?
07/31/2010 4:56:33 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Chris Our product mix and fresh prepared foods varies by store. Your best bet is to check with your local team members and they may be able to provide you with that information. Thanks!
08/02/2010 7:12:31 AM CDT
Jayne says ...
So true! My first WF purchase was 36c worth of nutritional yeast I needed for a one-off baking recipe, which no other stores in my area carried, and which was so much better than the $16, 1lb container also carried in the store. (And the employees were SO HELPFUL in helping me find both shelves w yeast! I had three people helping me, so much better than any grocery store i've been to in a while). I've been back for granola, and will return soon for some of these ideas, especially the salad bar! How awesome to get a lb of fresh cut veggies for a week of salads to take to work or eat for dinner! Can mix it up and get a bunch of different instead of buying whole veggies that may go bad...woah...loving it :)
03/17/2013 1:27:25 PM CDT