Less Expensive Herbs and Spices

For years I heard about saving on seasonings by buying from bulk bins. I thought it meant buying in quantity, and I didn’t need quantity, so I ignored it. Turns out, it means buying as much or as little as I want, from a bulk bin at the health food or ethnic food store.

Parsley cost me half as much from the bulk bin at the health food store as it does in a container from the grocery store. Whole cloves cost over four dollars at Walmart for .61 of an ounce. From the bulk bin the same amount was just thirty two cents, 92% less! If there’s something I’m only going to use once, I can buy a tiny bit and have little or nothing go to waste.

The way it works at my store is, I take the bulk jar up to the checkout and they measure out the amount I ask for into a ziploc bag. I save my empty spice jars and refill them from the baggies. An easy way to do that is to get the jar ready, then cut a hole in a bottom corner of the baggie, a little smaller than the opening of the jar. Put the corner of the baggie in the opening of the jar and encourage the contents to fall into the jar.

Seasonings not only make our meals tastier and more interesting, they contain important micronutrients as well. Cooking with fresh or dried herbs and spices can be a rewarding hobby and great for your health. You don’t even have to cook from scratch – many prepared dishes can benefit from added seasonings. Fresh oregano adds depth to macaroni and cheese, or to any pasta-based dish. Fresh dill is good on a ready-made fish dish.

The produce department of many grocery stores carries fresh herb plants. I transplant mine into pots on my balcony, so I always have fresh basil and oregano. Pay once for the plant, and as long as I can keep it alive, it keeps giving me more herbs. Fresh herbs are less intense than dried, so you use more of the fresh leaves. They also have a livelier taste and smell, adding a grace note to the experience of cooking a meal.

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