One of my favorite recipes is my recipe for earth muffins. An earth muffin is a cute girl who recycles and goes green but still showers regularly; my earth muffins are the most delicious, healthy, non-tree-bark-tasting bran muffins I’ve ever come across. They also taste great made as mini loaves of bread.
The only downside to this recipe is that it requires ten thousand dry ingredients. I got smart this time around and cut the recipe in half, because honestly, working with that much flour is just exhausting. But it still required a lot of ingredients I didn’t already have.
Enter the best broke-ass ho solution to cooking with random ingredients that can only be found at overpriced stores like Whole Foods and that make you say, “Eight dollars for one vanilla bean!? Fuck you, delicious homemade dessert!”
Use the bulk section.
The bulk section is changing my life.
Now, not every supermarket has one (although they should) but Whole Foods does, and even though Whole Foods is a ridiculous store in many ways, you can justify a trip there if you promise to stick to the bulk section. Fortunately for me, I’ve been lucky enough to find one at Central Market — just another reason that grocery store is one of my favorite things about living in Houston.
I never understood the appeal of the bulk foods section because I always said to myself, “I don’t need that much flour.” But then I realized, Yes! Exactly! You don’t need that much flour…you only need a little flour…and you can get that flour in the bulk foods section and then be on your merry way!
For my earth muffins, I needed oat bran, nonfat dry milk, flaxseeds, and raisins. Nonfat dry milk is annoyingly expensive, so I decided I was only making the muffins if Central Market had it in bulk. Luckily, they had everything I needed!
I’m really glad I found the ingredients I needed because those earth muffins are the deal; I had forgotten how much I love them. Seriously, I don’t know why it’s so hard to find a decent healthy bran muffin box mix, but I’m kind of over trying.
There are few things more satisfying than realizing your single serving costs under $2 (and in some cases, costs just 13 cents). It’s so nice to be able to just buy a small amount. I’ve visited the bulk section for things like whole-wheat pastry flour and pumpkin seeds for my pumpkin bread, and just two cinnamon sticks for the hot buttered rum recipe in my Christmas card.
It’s also great if your recipe requires nuts; nuts are so expensive by the bag, and really, what are you going to do with all those extra hazelnuts? I love the fact that by buying in bulk, I will no longer have four pounds of nuts taking up space in my pantry for the next year.
I took some time to browse in the bulk section at Central Market and I was wholly impressed; they have tons of those ingredients that always make me say, “Nope, can’t, I’m not investing in a barrel of star anise right now. Sorry, Giada.” So not only is it helping me save money, it’s also helping me try recipes that I never considered making before!
No one wants to make Giada sad. And now we don’t have to.