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.