Cooking healthy meals for your family doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.
In our home, we keep things really simple.
Each week, we buy the same staple foods and make many of the same meals. Between working full-time, writing this blog, my kids and everything else that has to get done, there’s no time for guesswork or experimenting with new recipes.
And buying foods in bulk is one way we’re able to make sure we always have ingredients on hand to make healthy meals.
Although we don’t have a membership to a wholesale club because it doesn’t make sense for our family of 4, we stock up on sale items and buy foods that stretch our food budget.
Buying in bulk can save you money, but you’ll need to watch your kids’ portion sizes or you could end up spending even more. On the flip side, if you don’t consume it in a timely manner, it can spoil and create food waste.
The key is to stock up on a few key ingredients—fresh, frozen, and non-perishable—
so you’ll always have what you need.
Here are 7 of the best healthy foods to buy in bulk.
1. Beans and Legumes
If you’re trying to get more plant-based foods into your kid’s diet, buy beans and legumes.
Black beans and lentils are two of my favorites to stock up on because they’re high in both protein and fiber and excellent sources of iron.
Black turtle beans in particular, are high in calcium: 1/2 cup provides 160 milligrams.
I prefer to buy dried beans and then soak and cook them because they’re more robust and lower in sodium than canned but canned beans are just as healthy and delicious.
Swap beans for meat in Mexican dishes, add them to soups, stews and chilis or as a replacement for eggs and oil in your favorite baking recipes.
When it comes to healthy foods to buy in bulk, cinnamon is at the top of my list.
High in antioxidants, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and studies suggest it’s beneficial for controlling blood sugar, improving LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides.
I keep several containers of cinnamon in my home because it’s so delicious and can be used in a variety of meals.
I add cinnamon to oatmeal, pancakes, muffins and desserts and sprinkle it on roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes.
I also like to mix cinnamon into my coffee grounds which adds a robust, delicious flavor to my morning cup.
3. Chia seeds
An excellent source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are by far one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.
I keep a large mason jar of chia seeds in my pantry and incorporate them into pancakes, breads muffins and overnight oats, add them to smoothies and use them to make chia seed puddings.
Frozen vegetables are picked at their peak freshness and flash frozen so they may be healthier than fresh varieties.
In fact, a June 2017 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found in some cases, frozen produce is more nutritious than fresh that’s been stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are some of the best frozen foods to buy in bulk because they’re high in fiber and antioxidants, and low glycemic so they won’t spike your kid’s blood sugar.
Add frozen berries to smoothies, use your blender to whip them up into a healthy dessert, or serve them as a snack—something my kids loved when they were toddlers.
Or add berries to oatmeal, yogurt and baked goods for extra fiber and a natural sweetness.
High in both fiber and protein, quinoa (a seed), is one of the best healthy foods to buy in bulk.
Quinoa is a gluten-free, whole grain carbohydrate that’s high in fiber and a good source of B vitamins and magnesium.
I love keeping plenty of quinoa on hand because it cooks super-fast and it’s so versatile.
Swap it for oatmeal, add it to a fruit parfait, incorporate it into green salads or serve it as a side for dinner.
6. Olive oil
Whether you’re roasting vegetables to make them healthy and delicious for your kids, making your own salad dressing or coating a pan to scramble eggs, olive oil is a necessity when you’re cooking healthy meals.
High in monounsaturated, healthy fats and vitamin E, olive oil also makes food delicious and satisfies hunger.
Store olive oil in a cool, dry place away from the sunlight to prevent it from becoming rancid.
7. Rolled oats
Another whole grain option that’s high in fiber, rolled oats are also a good source of iron, selenium and manganese and are low in sugar.
Oats are naturally gluten-free but because of cross-contamination, look for brands that are labeled accordingly. I like Bob’s Red Mill.
Swap rolled oats for recipes that call for flour or use them to make oatmeal, overnight oats, cookies, energy bites and protein bars.